Major sponsor pulls the plug on 14 performances.
LONDON – 13 AUGUST 2004
Beenie Man’s US tour is falling apart as venues across the US axe his concerts in protest against his songs that encourage and glorify the killing of lesbians and gay men. Tobacco giant RJ Reynolds is the latest to axe concerts, cancelling 14 performances. Commenting on Beenie Man’s lyrics and the decision to cancel his concerts, RJR spokesperson David Howard said:
“R.J. Reynolds Tobacco does not tolerate this or any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation.”
For more information, see:
(See copy below)
In addition to the RJR cancellations, following local campaigns, confirmed cancellations have been received from:
The cancellations follow an education campaign by US gay and human rights activists. They have alerted promoters, sponsors and venues to Beenie Man’s lyrics which incite the murder of gay people. Many gay Jamaicans believe these lyrics contribute to homophobic hatred and gay-bashing attacks.
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In addition, on 6 August, the management of The Electric Factory in Philadelphia forced Beenie Man to drop two antigay songs from his set.
For more details, see: http://www.planetout.com/news/article.html?2004/08/09/5
A scheduled return performance on 11 October has been cancelled. Beenie Man’s website (www.beenieman.net/tour.php) currently still lists the planned concert on 11 October in Philadelphia, but the Electric Factory has confirmed to the Jamaica Star no concert will take place on that date.
These facts refute the Jamaica Star’s false headline “Gays Lied”
They also suggest that Clyde McKenzie of Beenie Man’s management team, Shocking Vibes Limited, was either dishonest or incompetent when he said he was not aware of any encore performance scheduled for the Electric Factory on 11 October.
Philadelphia activists have also been in discussion with the Clear Channel media corporation, which owns 1500 radio stations across the US. They are pressing Clear Channel to drop from their play lists songs by Beenie Man and other dancehall artists which encourage the shooting, stabbing, stoning, burning, beating and drowning of gay and lesbian people.
“The campaign against murder music is escalating across the US and Europe. We’re teaching these singers that inciting homophobic violence does not pay. It is costing them dear in terms of lost revenue and income,” said Peter Tatchell of OutRage!
“This is just the beginning. We are now building a worldwide network of organisations committed to driving homophobic violence out of dancehall lyrics. These singer’s careers are in serious jeopardy. Their ability to perform internationally is already experiencing major restriction.
“We are willing to call off the campaign, but only if these artists express remorse explicitly for inciting antigay violence and apologise specifically to the lesbian and gay community.
“In addition, they have to give an undertaking to never again perform or produce songs that encourage or glorify homophobic hatred or violence against homosexuals.
“They must also either get the agreement of record companies and producers to withdraw the offending songs, or agree to pay the royalties from those songs to charities dedicated to supporting the victims of queer-bashing violence,” added Mr Tatchell.
BEENIE MAN BOUNCED FROM CHICAGO-BOUND TOUR
By Gary Barlow
Staff writer, Chicago Free Press
In response to protests over Beenie Man’s homophobic lyrics, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. officials said Aug. 6 that the Jamaican musician is no longer part of a 14-city concert tour that includes a stop in Chicago.
“R.J. Reynolds Tobacco does not tolerate this or any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation,” said RJR spokesman David Howard.
The controversial artist, whose real name is Anthony Moses Davis, was scheduled to headline the Stir The Senses Tour, sponsored by RJR’s Salem brand, with a stop at the House of Blues in Chicago Oct. 25.
But Chicago gay activists were gearing up to protest the event, just as gay rights groups did on the singer’s recent European tour. The strongest protests came in London, resulting in the cancellation of a Beenie Man concert in the British capital.
“Securing the cancellation of Beenie Man’s concert is very important,” said British gay rights leader Peter Tatchell, of OutRage. “By hitting him in the pocket it will help Beenie Man and other anti-gay Jamaican singers to abandon their murderous incitements.”
Beenie Man’s tour was to promote a new album and break into the U.S. pop market. But protesters said lyrics such as, “I’m dreaming of a new Jamaica, come to execute all the gays,” in Beenie Man’s “Damn,” encourage violence against gays.
“This man advocates the murder of gays,” said Andy Thayer, of the Chicago Anti-Bashing Network.
Other Beenie Man songs contain similar lyrics, including “Bad Man, Chi Chi Man,” which urges listeners to kill gay DJs. “Chi Chi Man” is a derogatory Jamaican slang expression for gay men.
Beenie Man’s label, Virgin Records, issued what it billed as an apology from Beenie Man Aug. 2.
“It has come to my attention that certain lyrics and recordings I have made in the past may have caused distress and outrage among people whose identities and lifestyles are different from my own,” the statement said. “While my lyrics are very personal, I do not write them with the intent of purposefully hurting or maligning others, and I offer my sincerest apologies to those who might have been offended, threatened or hurt by my songs.”
But activists such as Tatchell and OutRage’s Brett Lock blasted the apology as “so vague that it does not even mention what he is apologizing for. It could be an apology for anything.”
Less than a day later Clyde McKenzie, head of Beenie Man’s management company, Shocking Vibes, repudiated the apology, telling Radio Jamaica that the statement came entirely from Virgin Records, not Beenie Man. McKenzie added that Beenie Man reserved his right to continue criticizing “the homosexual lifestyle.”
“The so-called apology seems to be nothing more than a PR stunt dreamt up by Virgin Records to stave off protests against Beenie Man in the lucrative European and North American markets,” Lock said.
House of Blues officials said they were already in extensive discussions with RJR officials Aug. 6 when RJR pulled the plug on Beenie Man’s participation in the Salem tour.
“Our company is built on the premise of unity and diversity,” said John Reens, of House of Blues. “We didn’t know about (Beenie Man.) …We were very perplexed and disturbed by it.”
Howard said RJR signed Beenie Man for the tour before they had the opportunity to hear his latest album. After protesters made them aware of the offending lyrics, he said RJR made “the decision to no longer feature him.”
“In no way do those lyrics reflect the views of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco,” Howard said.
Aside from the 14 stops on the RJR-sponsored tour, Virgin had, as of last week, booked Beenie Man for 11 other October-November dates in the United States. Virgin officials could not be reached for comment about those concerts or RJR’s removal of Beenie Man from the Stir The Senses Tour.
At a concert in Philadelphia last weekend Davis agreed to not perform his anti-gay songs in order to avert protests. But, on stage, he acknowledged the controversy. Gays, he said, “got our music wrong. If you have sex with a man that’s your own business. We don’t want to fight against lifestyles. We just don’t want anyone to molest our kids.”