Mucho controversy this month over the American tour of Jamaican reggae vocalist Buju Banton, who is rightfully hated in the gay and lesbian community for his homophobic views and music.. One of the performer's song, "Boom Bye Bye," actually calls for the gruesome murder and maiming (pouring acid on them is one suggestion) of gays in its lyrics -- and Banton was actually involved in an armed assault on six gay men in Jamaica several years ago. The Jamaican courts acquitted him in the attack...but that means little in a country where "gay sex" is punishable by as much as 10 years in prison. (It's always seemed strange to me that the country of Bob Marley has also always been notorious for its blatant homophobia and misogyny; "One Love"...just so long as you're not gay or a woman...)
At any rate, gay organizations across the country have been calling for a boycott of the tour, with shows being cancelled in numerous cities. Tomorrow night's show (Wednesday, September 30th) at the Majestic Theatre was on until this past weekend when the venue finally cancelled the concert. We're all in favor of "freedom of speech"...but "hate speech" is a whole other can of worms -- and it's really not censorship by any means when promoters decide that they don't want to host such activity in their venue. The theater management reporetedly is losing money over the cancellation, so kudos to them for doing what they felt was right. The Majestic Theatre sent out the following statement regarding the cancellation:
The Buju Banton concert that was to be held at the Majestic Theatre on Wednesday, September 30th, has been cancelled. This was an incredibly tough decision for us both philosophically and economically. If we had known that there was any controversy surrounding this artist, we would have never even considered booking him. We do not condone any form of hate speech. We have struggled to get out of our contract for over a month to no avail. The Majestic is in essence a family-run small business. It is next to impossible to simply cancel a show without major financial consequences. Yet, that is what we have done.
We feel that our decision to cancel the show is less about making a statement on free speech and more about continuing to provide a welcoming atmosphere for all people. Over the past month, our friends and neighbors within various LBGT groups have reached out to us and expressed deep concern over Buju’s past comments and song lyrics. For decades, The Majestic has been a haven for unique events and people from all walks of life. At this point and time, Detroiters need to stand together more than ever. We could not allow one event to create a divide. We hope that you continue your support and patronage of The Majestic.
The Zainea Family