Sunday, December 27, 2009

SHUT 'EM UP! 'Too much freedom in the name of creative expression'

Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter

Declaring that Jamaica's music has died, producer Mikey Barnett says the Government needs to restrict freedom of expression if the society is to survive. "The Government has failed in its role to protect the society from itself - meaning artistes of today. There is too much freedom in the name of creative expression," Barnett told a recent Gleaner Editors' Forum.

Barnett argued that the Govern-ment had allowed a small societal sore to turn into gangrene before trying to fix it. He said the decline in Jamaica's music is going to be impossible to address because the State allows everyone to freely express what he or she wants through areas such as music. However, the director of public prosecutions has said freedom of expression is not the problem.

Paula Llewellyn told stated that it is inertia and lethargy on the part of many citizens which is the root cause of the problem. "Everybody is guaranteed - under our Constitution and by virtue of being a human being in a civilised society where principles of democracy hold - freedom of expression," Llewellyn said.

"Too many of us are afraid to rock the boat, in that we do not wish to be singled out as pointing out that the content of a song like Informer Fi Dead can undermine the moral fibre of the society and help to inculcate fear in respect of doing your duty if you have witnessed wrongdoing or a breach of criminal law," Llewellyn.
Last week, Barnett told a Gleaner Editors' Forum that he did not support dancehall music because of what it stood for. He charged that the music bred violence and spewed profanity throughout the society and should be controlled through legislation."It is a lack of political will that has caused this, because whenever they (legislators) attempt to put in laws, people say you are stifling their creative expression, and so they back off," Barnett said.

In defence of his stance, the music producer said persons should not "defend creative expression at the risk of destroying the society". "We have to make up our minds whether we want freedom of expression for everybody, or a controlled situation to protect our children," Barnett said.

However, Llewellyn argued that people should be more cognisant of lyrics and be willing to speak up against transgressions. She said Jamaicans should respect each other's right to freedom of expression but "be prepared to indicate that the particular lyrical content of a song is not appreciated".

Llewellyn's position has the backing of Senator Warren Newby, parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports.
He argued that the State should not infringe on a person's freedom. "If an adult decides that slackness is his or her form of entertainment, I don't think the State should get involved to say 'You can't listen to that'. If he pays to go into a venue that is sanitised from the general public and wants to listen to slackness in that venue, then the Government has no role to play in that matter," Newby said.

He added: "What needs to be emphasised in today's Jamaica is the role of parenting. People must take personal and social responsibility.

"We must empower communities and the parents to take greater care of the socialisation of the children so in the event that they hear music that is not wholesome, they know not to gravitate towards it," Newby said.


  1. Bartlett eeksing himself into the spotlight, I see. Apparently, dancehall is all there is to talk about these days? What about what a fair taxation policy would look like when it comes to the music business? Too complicated?

    Jamaica is not a democratic society, in no way, shape or form. It's one of those things that we think that if we say enough times it will become true. Not even in popular culture, where only ONE form of music is allowed to dominate and to shape people's attitudes about what Jamaican music is and is not. Not even the content of dancehall is democratic! THAT is the problem, not simply whether people sing about slackness or not. We don't need less music, we need more, more, more music, and a whole lot more variety. Right now, people love what they get, but that's also because what they get is so, and increasingly narrow and pointless. What is needed is active promotion of creativity, openness and diversity to what is considered "Jamaican popular music." Law and public policy can be be used to ensure that end, but that's not the only strategy.

  2. Thanks for the comment Longbench yeah its much of the same ol same ol where ppl promote their own aganda or just blame everything and everyone else for what wrong but no one really does anything about problem.