Another side to Banton
Dear Editor: I wish Stewart Oksenhorn’s Sept. 21 article on Buju Banton (“Buju Banton aims for the feet as well as spirit”), who played in Aspen that evening, had included some mention of the controversy that has dogged Banton around the globe. Most of his fans in the U.S. are unfamiliar with his vicious anti-gay side. I hope The Aspen Times will do some research for a follow-up article.Buju Banton is notorious for his violently anti-gay lyrics, and himself recently faced criminal charges for a violent attack on gay men in Kingston, Jamaica. Banton pioneered the current spate of Jamaican reggae’s anti-gay “murder music” with his 1992 song “Boom Bye Bye,” which advocates shooting gay men in the head and burning them alive.The rise of “murder music” has been accompanied by anti-gay violence in Jamaica, including the murder by machete of the island nation’s leading gay rights advocate, Brian Williamson, in his home in 2004. Banton himself was among a dozen men criminally charged with beating six gay men, two of whom had to be hospitalized, on June 24, 2004. Although a warrant was issued for Banton’s arrest immediately, police did not arrest him for 15 months. His acquittal in January amid questions about the thoroughness of the police investigation provoked further distress among Jamaica’s gay and lesbian residents, some of whom have sought asylum in the U.K. Gay Jamaicans still face prosecution under the nation’s 1864 anti-“buggery” law.While “murder music” artist labels often issue apologies for their lyrics while they are on tour outside Jamaica, the artists often repudiate these apologies back home. Clubs in the U.S. who promote Buju Banton are promoting his career and contributing to the atmosphere of fear and anti-gay violence in Jamaica. Buju Banton concerts have been cancelled in Germany, the U.K, Belgium, and the U.S., most recently on Sept. 14 in Indiana. Boulder Pride, Colorado’s second largest GLBT advocacy group, organized a tremendously successful protest outside the Fox Theatre for Banton’s Sept. 20 appearance. The protest educated many Banton fans coming to see the show. Boulder Pride garnered widespread press coverage and support in the community for calling for this concert to be cancelled. The Fox Theater has pledged to never bring Banton back. I hope that Aspen’s music venues will do the same.Michael MillsBoulder
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