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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

More Buju Than You

Posted by on September 26 at 13:12 PM

The whole Buju Banton debate has brought up one of my favorite questions: Should an artist be held morally responsible for his or her ugly, immoral art (or ugly, immoral personal life)?

It’s a great, rich question, but much of the discussion around Buju Banton seems willfully obtuse—specifically, the demands that a boycott of Buju Banton should automatically necessitate the boycotting of other “offensive” artists, such as Ice Cube, Guns N Roses, Eminem, etc, etc, etc.

I resent having to parse the bullshit, but here goes: Yeah, the Beastie Boys considered titling their debut Don’t Be A Faggot, but, um, they DIDN’T, and they never even proposed calling the record Don’t Be A Faggot—Kill a Faggot, Perhaps with Acid and Public Burning, and Trust You’ve Done the Right Thing. Buju Banton’s most controversial track celebrates and encourages the murder of homosexuals, wherever they may be. At least John Lennon had the good taste to only threaten to murder the one “little girl” he was in love with. (And sweet little Neil Young actually went through with it.)

And yes, hiphop and rock is filled with jackasses presenting women as stupid trash that’s hardly worth raping, but show me the Ice Cube or Guns N’ Roses track that calls for the immediate raping of all women, wherever they may be. You can’t, which is too bad, as “A Call for the Immediate Raping of All Women, Wherever They May Be” might make a dynamite GN’R power ballad, but sorry, it doesn’t exist.

There’s free speech—including the troubling sentiments of Guns N’ Roses, Eminem, NWA, Ice Cube, Public Enemy, John Lennon, Neil Young, etc, etc, etc—and then there’s hate speech, which lays out a plan of direct action against an entire people, such as in Banton’s contentious hit.

As for those stores carrying Buju Banton CDs—big whoop. I proudly worked at a bookstore that sold Mein Kampf. If Easy Street were to host an in-store performance by Buju Banton (or if Bailey/Coy hosted an author signing with Hitler), that would be a different story.

Which brings us to Neumo’s, which did the right thing in rejecting plans to give Buju Banton a singular platform to spew his shit in the middle of the gayest neighborhood in town. Booking Banton was a bad idea, Neumo’s realizes that now, and let’s move on, and make sure Neumo’s doesn’t have to pay an excessive price for doing the right thing.

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you just had to whip our hitler, didn't you?

um, that's "you just had to whip OUT hitler, didn't you?" hell of a typo.

Just a small bone of contention: Citing murder ballad-type songs wherein the author deliberately adopts the voice of an unreliable narrator to tell a sordid or chilling tale as an example of hate speech seems like a bit of a reach. By that reasoning any story that contains an act of violence is hate speech intended to spur readers into violent imitation.

Stories where nothing bad happens are boring. Describing a fictional violent event perpetrated by an unsympathetic character is not the same as telling people to go out and kill other people.

FlamingoBanjo: You read me wrong. I was defending murder ballads—hell, I was defending all murder art, from "In the Pines" to GoodFellas.

As you write, "Describing a fictional violent event perpetrated by an unsympathetic character is not the same as telling people to go out and kill other people."


My bad. Just don't tell me I have to stop listening to Johnny Cash.

Hypothetical question (and I'm really not baiting here): What would the community response have been had Neumo's booked '92-era Ice-T and Body Count? I doubt the uber-liberals of Cap Hill (of whom I am one) would have called for the venue to cancel the performance, even though Ice-T explicitly advocates killing cops with a sawed-off shotgun.

Sure, there's a telling difference between urging people to kill cops and urging people to kill homosexuals -- one's arguably a political statement by the disenfranchised against an oppressive government, while the other is hard to defend on any except bigoted grounds -- but the lines aren't all that clearly drawn.

"If Easy Street were to host a in-store performance by Buju Banton (or if Bailey/Coy hosted an author signing with Hitler), that would be a different story."

Would it, David?

Why? Is speech only free when it's recorded in some medium or other?

Why are businesses allowed to sell hateful messages, but not allowed to host hateful messengers?

Thanks, David, for such a great post. I think the other thing that people fail to understand is that Buju has his fans, fans who like his music precisely because he is a homophobic nightmare and they relate to him. They would have no doubt come to Neumo's, on Capitol Hill, in the heart of the gay ghetto to see him perform. It was a recipe for disaster, like inviting a sex offender to kindergarten.

Now, Gays, put your money where your mouth is and get thee to Neumo's.

So faggot is cool, but kill faggot isn't? Sweet.

This legalistic defending of all you and your paper's grandstanding and chest thumping is predictable and will only get more and more absurd as the parallels people draw to other artists you've endorsed get closer to the mark.

There was a time not so long ago when less inflamatory homophobic lyrics sparked outrage in the gay community. Ironically, now those same artists we're recalling are being used as the key defences in this whole overebearing bullying of an awesome establishment.

Sorry, it's a bit fundie for me. You guys all went nuts. We don't need to be protected from words, idiots.

Superfurry Animal: I imagine you're rreferring to "Cop Killa," a totally awesome track about the desire to execute the police. It's not called, "Kill a Cop/Do it Now!," and to me, "Cop Killa" is just another murder ballad.

Robotslave: At Easy Street and Bailey/Coy, Buju's CD and Hitler's book are one among thousands of offerings, all offered on the same level playing field.

But the platform given by a show or author signing or in-store performance takes the endorsement of the work to another level, at least in my mind.

If nothing else, it's just funny as hell to watch a wide demographic sample flailing to apply concepts of egalitarianism to make sense of what's happening.

Many western countries (ex. Germany, hello) put limits on hate speech, or calling for the torture and deaths of groups of people. It's one of the reasons why you rarely hear psychotic religious fanatics ranting about gay men and lesbians in Canada.
I've often wondered why it's legal to call for the mass murder of groups of people here in the US, but if you say "kill John Smith," then it's conspiracy to commit murder or terroristic threatening.
It's but one event in the US Hypocrisy Olympics, I guess.

SB you really don’t get it do you? We need to be urging gays to withhold financial support from businesses that cut checks to people who advocate for the murder and mutilation of gay people. Period! (This isn’t that complicated.)

David, correct me if I'm misreading you, but it seems like you're saying that the shelves of a store are OK for hate speech because they are a level playing field, and that a stage should not be a level playing field at all, but rather a playing field off-limits to politically unacceptable artists?

So it's ok for record stores to make money off Buju Banton, but not rock clubs?

His recorded word is ok, but his spoken word is dangerous? Huh?

David, I've gotta admit I don't get the subtlety of the distinction you're making. Is it because -- in his, yes, totally awesome song -- Ice-T sings about how he personally is going to kill cops, whereas Buju is telling other people to go kill and maim gays? I.e., it's personal agency v.s. incitement to hate crime? If that's your point, it's an interesting difference, though I'm not sure I buy it as a telling one.

I mean, Ice-T's just as eager to incite a violent urban uprising against cops as Buju is to launch a violent antigay mob riot. It's just that they express it differently.

Record stores can choose which Buju Banton records they carry, if they carry any at all. (From what I can tell, the majority of trouble has come from that one damn song, which can't be on every damn album of Banton's, can it?)

Producing a Buju Banton show--featuring a set list of his choosing, and typically featuring his highly contentious hit--in the middle of the gayest neghborhood in town is a bad, insulting idea. I'm not saying it should be illegal, I'm saying it's a stupid, offensive idea, and Neumo's agrees.

Getting upset and forcing a business to close or forcing a concert to cancel makes me feel morally superior to other people. An artist that is offensive to me should be silenced.

But other people may wonder exactly why the Beasty Boys didn't call their album "don't be a faggot", and question the integrity of performers who would even consider calling an album "don't be a faggot". No one should even consider that um...maybe the Beasty Boys were slimy enough to keep their homophobia to themselves so they could sell more albums.

I believe that the Beasty Boys caved in to market and social pressures and altered their artistic work, therefore they are acceptable artists.

I believe a closet homophobe who caves into market pressures and alters their creative work has great integrity.

But a blantant homophobe who won't cave into market pressures or alter his artistic work should be silenced.

Like David, I believe that being a slimeball sexist, racist, homophobic asshole musician is fine in private. But if your manager is stupid enough to allow you to act that way in public, your artistic work is illegitimate and you should be silenced.

In a million years I would never dream of asking why The Beasty Boys ever considered naming their album "Don't be a Faggot." Their manager nipped it in the bud so Beasty Boys could become super famous even if they are homophobic, sexist assholes.

I dig the Beasty Boys. Does anyone know if they'll play in Seattle anytime soon. (I could care less about what Beasty Boys think about faggots, I just love their music.)

At what cost?

Piss off the Stranger two more times and they're not gonna have a club.

Way to go! You're winning the war!

Whether or not you're saying the performance should be legal is dodging on a technicality, David. The fact of the matter is that you don't want politically unacceptable speech on a stage in your neighborhood.

As to the record stores, are you now saying that they shouldn't stock records containing hate speech?

Perhaps, the first step would be figuring out that after nearly 20 years as a successful artists its actuall spelled Beastie, not Beasty.

As for the song David, it is on his greatest hits package and can and is found in nearly every record store in Seattle.

Good point about Elephant Man, not one peep out of all you thought police when he rolled through town.

Oh, and by the way, the right to free speech gives you the right to say what you want. It does not give you the right to a record deal, club booking or talk show. Duh.

David, you are talking about LYRICS. What some writers at the Stranger helped do was shut down a CONCERT because of LYRICS. How can people applaud what happened here?

Like many have pointed out, the same performer has played in Seattle many times without incident. So we are supposed to just assume their will be violence this time because the show is in a neighborhood with a higher concentration of Gay people?

I am happy that their are a variety of performers to see in Seattle. If I dont like someone's lyrics for whatever reason, I wont go to the show, but I very much like having the choice. I consider myself very lucky to have clubs like Neumos and many others, that consistently book interesting live music to frequent. I think it is very unfortunate that they had to take such a signifigant loss...As Kerri pointed out so well, this sort of action is a step down a pretty fucked up road.

i dont know, GNR in Everett...i think im gonna have to go to that

The fact of the matter is that you don't want politically unacceptable speech on a stage in your neighborhood.

Yup. This isn't thought police, it's market values. Neumo's was ready to supply an artist, for whom there turned out to be an anti-demand, and they changed their minds.

Record stores can stock whatever they hell they want. Neumo's can book whoever they hell they want. But if they book someone known for calling for the deaths of gays, I'm not allowed to whine about it? Who's trying to censor who? (And is it my fault Neumo's agreed so readily, instead of forcing all of us to show up at an actual Buju show and make our voices heard there?)

First off, David... Thank you, honestly, for stepping up the plate. You addressed a lot of points made in the previous comments very well.

I'll admit that there's a language barrier that's preventing me from seeing how much more far gone the Buju track is than, say, "Run For Your Life" in real time. Then again, I heard *about* the Buju song before I actually heard it, so my mind applied cognitive dissonance and didn't want to deal with it. That wasn't the case with "Run For Your Life"

Buju isn't the only man in his field, unfortunately, who sung about such heinous calls to action. Conversely, I'm not sure Buju fans are automatically the types that embrace him just because he had one song about homo-bigotry... in the same way that I don't think Geto Boys fans are the types like them strictly because they want to be the characters they depict in their songs. There's more to Buju than one adolescent song that was horrific. I'm guessing this is why he has fans.

And folks above have addressed my other concern about this supposed line between selling offensive product vs. hosting a live performance by said artist. Sure, a live show would imply that someone along the way knew about the controversy, moreso than someone stocking CDs from said artist. But once the knowledge is there, it just doesn't decay.

The stem of my frustration really comes from a point I initially agreed with.. Charles's initial post -- rhetorically, at the very least. This also applies to Bad Brains as well (who are reuniting by the way! Pray they don't do a Seattle show, or else El Corazon will have to eat the guarantee money after cancelling it.) Bad Brains were hated by everybody because of similar theological views, but the punk and hardcore community basically said "You don't have to like them, but you gotta respect them"


A lot of people need more knowledge about the root of homo-bigotry in Jamaica than what you can read on wikipedia. There needs to be stories here. It's not a fun topic, but I have not been able to find a good one that went forth and explored the topic in depth.

Hopefully by saying that, people here will fill this thread with links to such articles. Power to you in advance.

Yup. This isn't thought police, it's market values. Neumo's was ready to supply an artist, for whom there turned out to be an anti-demand, and they changed their minds.

Actually, Stevin pointed out that the show would have sold out, so you are wrong. So we have the voice of the few dictating what the masses can here.

Man, somebody objects to the appearance of an avowed, unrepentent homo-hater at a venue in the middle of the homo-est neighborhood in the city, and suddenly the comment threads start reading like they've attracted all the bottom-dwellers from LGF or Free

Hey, Morans - listen up! Nobody here has advocated for the position that Buju and like-minded artists don't have the right to spew all the racist, homophobic, anti-authoritarian crap they can put on tape (well, except for the obvious trolls reaching for some semblence of irony, but they don't really count). If preaching the violent extermination of a class or race of people makes you want to jump up and dance, then - as has been stated ad-nauseum - YOU HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO DO SO!

But, you absolutely DO NOT have the right to tell me, or anyone else, that we have to support your bigoted, hate-filled music, nor the artists who make it! If I find something offensive, I have the RIGHT to say so, along with the right to encourage businesses that profit from such material to discontinue offering it for sale. YOU have the right to convince them to keep selling it, and the business has the right to determine whether or not to sell the material based on their own economic self-interest. If more people express a willingness to purchase the offending material, than express an objection to it, then the business has every right to continue to make it available. If, on the other hand, things go the other way, they STILL have the right to sell it, if they so choose, but they DON'T have the right to expect those who object to continue to support their activities. They ALSO have the right to decide NOT to sell it, while YOU have the right to discontinue your patronage as a result of their decision. That's how the system works.

What you, I or anyone else DOESN'T have the right to do is to PHYSICALLY prevent people who want to either make or consume something (regardless of how personally offensive or reprehensible it might be) from either offering or receiving it, if that's what they desire.

In a Nutshell:

Economic pursuasion does NOT equal physical intimidation!

Got it?


David, Thanks for your comments on this awful man Buju. The Stranger is the place I always look first to find out what's currently in fashion. A few years ago Buju was "in" now he is "out". I don't really care about the reasons. I just want to be fashionable.

I just love Beastie Boys and Elephant Man. I went to the last Buju concert because The Stranger gave it such great reviews. But now I know that Buju is politically incorrect. Where can I get my Nemo's ticket refunded?

Are there any more upcomming concerts that will have lyrics that I shouldn't hear? Sometimes it's hard to sort out which artists are politically correct and which are not.

"the voice of the few dictating what the masses can here (sic)"

You've just described the task of the club booker.

And a club booker ultimately made the call on the Banton show.

Not the "thought police."

No one here wants this shit in our backyard, but everyone here wants the right to decide for themselves.

Those bastard club bookers are discriminating against the free speech of my favorite bands all the damn time, by not booking them. Grr. It's so unfair.

Booking Banton was a bad idea, Neumo’s realizes that now, and let’s move on, and make sure Neumo’s doesn’t have to pay an excessive price for doing the right thing.

ahhh, but the fine folks at neumo's HAVE paid an excessive price, to the tune of $15,000, according to sarah mirk's post below.

how many full page ads in the stranger does that work out to be? i have to wonder how a writer at the paper would respond to $15,000 being taken from their salary, based on published words that were deemed offensive?

schmader, i'm normally in agreement with you. not this time. you can't pick and choose when expressing outrage over controversial art. banton's reprehensible lyrics are just as offensive as ice t's call for killing cops, the beastie boys' former use of the word "faggot," and, yes, axl rose's usage of the word "nigger."

to my knowledge, banton has not acted upon the words he penned many years ago. we don't know how he feels about the song now; i have yet to see any report from stranger writers here that includes direct comment from the artist, his management, or his record label.

and, according to a published blurb by nate lippens in 2000, banton has changed his tune considerably. not that that matters now -- homeboy still gets his dough, neumo's gets screwed, and the stranger comes off looking like a bunch of NIMBYs. would this show have even gathered any attention if it had been booked in ballard?

David, there's a difference between whining about a thing and working to abolish it. Whine all you want, I find you rather entertaining when you're whining.

But what you've done here isn't just whine, what you've done is put Neumo's and other Capitol Hill clubs on notice— they must now vette everyone they book and make sure they pass the homo-friendly litmus test, or risk condemnation from The Stranger.

The question you have to ask yourself now is: why stop there?

As long as we're making Capitol Hill Safe From Politically Unacceptable Art, why not use your newfound powers to eliminate bands that promote misogyny or racism or war or regressive fiscal policies or centrist democratic candidates?

Can we expect folks at The Stranger to put at least some token pressure on the White River Ampitheatre to cancel tomorrow night's show? Godsmack is playing, you see.

it was booked in ballard I think in 2003. not a peep.

Just because The Stranger gave Buju a positive review last time he came to Seattle, and just because The Stranger made money off Buju's performance by selling advertising doesn't mean it's hypocritical to oppose Buju now.

Hegel teaches us that Being evolving to know itself creates dialectics. This controversy is simply the revolution of being.

Being against smoking but making money off Big Tobacco, being gay and making money advertising homophobic performer, is in Hegel's view simply the seemingly contradictory energies of Being seeking resolution.

Therefore nothing The Stranger prints is ever hypocritical or contradictory. It's simply write, wright, rite, right?

Clubs of Seattle, how about an advertising boycott? That ought to set things straight. When Tim Keck starts laying off employess we'll call a truce.

Hey Kerri, love you, let's fight.

Your point about Ballard is a good one.

But "Banton's reprehensible lyrics are just as offensive as ice t's call for killing cops, the beastie boys' former use of the word "faggot," and, yes, axl rose's usage of the word 'nigger'"?

Ice-T, I can almost buy. But Beasties and GNRs dumb-ass usages of dumb-ass words? Different beasts. Axl wrote a song about his own damn ignorance, and using the word "nigger" (or "faggot") is not the same as saying "let's kill that nigger/faggot."

The remaining query: Where does this leave the state of free-n-easy aesthetic complaint? Say Chop Suey chooses to book the all-female Styx cover-band Mrs. Roboto for an entire month? Am I supposed to hold my tongue to protect the almighty-yet-ever-fragile club booker then, too?

I think a lot of this is based on speculation.

1. Does the artist still stand behind the song we are talking about?

2. Did he mean to book the concert in a gay neighborhood (like the NRA kept their convention in Denver 2 weeks after the shootings at Columbine, located in nearby Littleton even though that was a total jerk move?)

3. Do the fans go for his music because of or despite the anti-gay message he may or may not still promote? If it's like a hate rally, then that's one thing, but if it's an artist that used to have a controversial song, but has moved on, that's another, at least in my book.

This is less relevant, but is $15,000 the artist's fee, or is that how much Neumo's would have done in busines had he been performing?

Pony Boy:

Make that an ad boycott and a withholding of scheduling information. The Stranger would lose its value for a lot of people if it didn't have reliable listings.

Ain't gonna happen, of course, but what else can you do? Start your own alt-weekly?

David, are you referencing Neil Young's _Down by the River_? Because in that song, his "baby" is heroin. Not a real person. John Lennon _was_ writing about an actual woman, his wife, Cynthia Lennon, who he treated very, very badly, and admitted it to the world. A better "killing" reference would be Nick Cave. Or better yet, "Country Death Song" by The Violent Femmes--

"I gave her a push, I gave her a shove, I pushed with all my might, I pushed with all my love. I threw my child into a bottomless pit...
She was screaming as she fell, but I never heard her hit."

Ooh, I love "Country Death Song"! It's my favorite child-killing anthem of all time.

And I'm not sure I buy your take on "Down by the River," but it's a good story.


In your response to Kerri, you again conflate whining about a band with working to shut down a performance.

Please stop doing that. Whine all you like. We are complaining about your paper's successful campaign to terminate a show that would have been a) finacially successful, and b) politically unacceptable to some writers at your paper. We are not complaining about anyone expressing their opinions of the art or artist in question.

Please stop your deliberate conflation of these two distinct things. You know exactly what you are doing, and you know it is dishonest. Cut it out, already.

David, you're a brave man for diving into this "no win" issue.

I agree there's a distinction between The Beastie Boys and Buju. "Don't Be a Faggot" is a product of it's time, as anyone who went to highschool in the 80's can tell you. Unless you lived in NY, SF, or LA, homosexuality was invisible except in the gay ghetto, if there happened to be one in your town. "Dude, quit being such a fag" was standard teenage lingo. There was no Ellen, Will and Grace, Queer Eye, Savage Love. Even the kids who have since come out of the closet were garden-variety homophobes back then. Thankfully, things have evolved somewhat (I know, long way to go, at least gay marriage is a topic of public debate today - not even gay people would have taken it seriously 20 years ago).

But killing and torturing gay people with acid? That's sick, and as far as I'm concerned, Buju should be held accountable for his mistake for the rest of his life.

With enough hard work and smarts, a new alt-weekly is exactly what Seattle needs right now.

The Stranger is the strongest one, but it barely seems to venture away from the Denny/Pine/Pike strips of Capitol Hill at all.

The Seattle Weekly is mostly a non-paper right now.. a couple of good writers, with a craptactular editorial staff.

A paper that takes the best writing to cover the complement of both the Stranger and Weekly would do a lot better than one might think. It's an investment and a risk. But one that isn't shortsighted.

I liked Tablet, but I felt its demise was more of an issue of having a mission that was already subsumed by the other two alt-weeklies already.

David, thank you so much for calling out Buju. I don't care if you did promote him two years ago. I just want to know what's fashionable today.

I love Beastie Boys and Ice-T's songs about killing faggots. They have a great beat especially when I listen to them loud! I can still enjoy those songs right? They are still politically correct? (I'd hate to have to get rid of my Ice-T and Beastie Boy albums!)

David maybe you can start a column about which musicians are politically correct this week. This weekend I'll be telling everyone how terrible Buju is, and I'm throwing out my Buju CD. Is Modest Mouse still considered a rapist, or is it ok to listen to them now?

Third time's a charm, Kimberly....

schmader, love you mass and would love to argue more about this topic but, as tempting as it all is right now, i'm bowing out.

i've now been called an "obtuse cunt" as well as a "bigot" here on the mighty slog. and, as much as i support the right to voice such hateful speech (particularly when hiding behind a clever nom de plume), i will also invoke my right to be offended by such words and do exactly what anyone that was offended by banton's words should have done: not show up.

so, my dear dave schmader, we shall convene in person at some point --perhaps over cocktails -- and argue to our hearts' content. let's hope that such a date is not boycotted by those that are offended by margaritas, the effect of tequila on one's judgement, and the border patrol issues affecting our friends in mexico.

well, considering that the guy put the song on his greatest hits album, which came out just a couple of years ago, then, yeah, i would say he still is all about that song.

i don't see why all you people have a problem with someone saying that they are upset at a club's choice. obviously, people told the club they were making a mistake, and the club owners agreed. the show may have sold out, but you have to look beyond just one show. putting this show on would have alienated the entire neighborhood, as it should have.

It was fashionable to hate faggots in the 1980's. Everyone did it so it was OK for any musician to hate faggots as much as Beastie Boys did. Musicians only write songs about what the mainstream likes. Musicians couldn't be expected to write songs about loving faggots, niggers, or mexicans in 1985 if the music buying public wouldn't buy those songs.

Real Musicans only write songs about whaterver the public wants. Imagine a performer writing a pro-gay song in 1985-that would be stupid. Therefore Beastie Boys were justified in wanting to call their album, "Don't Be a Faggot".

Besides the Beastie Boys are Jewish and are oppressed themselves, so it's OK for them to hate faggots.

Now it's very fashionable to be politically correct. Only musicians who write politically correct songs should be heard. We should only listen to the music that makes money in the current corporate music market. Let the market sort out what music gets heard. That makes good sense to me.

Eep. Sorry, Kerri, and yes, drinks and gabbing soon.

Everyone else: I know it's tempting, but the word "cunt" has no place in civilized debate. Unless you debating the merits of cunt.

David, it's OK to call someone a faggot, but not a "cunt". Did I get that right? But there are so many songs out there about killing faggots, raping faggots, and slashing faggots which ones are fashionable to listen to?

Are the rest of the "kill the faggot" songs on this list politically correct? If the performers come to town may we attend their concerts?

I love how my opinions are now being cast as legislative facts.

Kimberly, you're allowed to do whatever you want. Perhaps you might begin with suicide?

With regard to "cunt:"

I realize David's objection may be rooted as much in a homo's squeamishness about girl-parts as in any misgivings about the misogynist implications of the word when used as an insult, and I respect that, but if the august print pages of The Stranger, replete with mild oaths and imprecations, are a representative sample of "Civilized Debate," then there are 60,000,000 people in the UK who would disagree with him.

Robotslave's right: Folks in the UK have the same way with "cunt" that black folks have with "nigger"--ownership, and full rights to free usage.

"The Seattle Weekly is mostly a non-paper right now.. a couple of good writers, with a craptactular editorial staff."

There's a really good article about Martin Selig and the estate tax in this week's issue of the Weekly (Rick Anderson - Smart, well researched, good interviews, the author isn't pushy with his views. Hard to imagine anything like that coming out of The Stranger news staff.

We all make choices--this is, after all, a consumerist society. What some of us fail to realize is that some of us who make choices are also making choices for others.

David brought up working at a book store that sells "Mein Kampf"--and there are book stores where the buyer decides not to bring in "Mein Kampf" to sell it...

When I worked at Orpheum, we would get an occasional skinhead asking us if we carried Skrewdriver...(we didn't.) That was a decision made by the buyer...

There's talk about an English version of the al-Jazeera cable news network being offered to US cable companies soon. There will be decisions made by the buyers of each cable system as to whether or not that will be offered to their subscribers...

The question that we have to answer, as a society, is how free do we want to be?

Do we all want to make the decision for ourselves...over what we find acceptable, what we find offensive and what we choose to acquaint ourselves with?

Do we want to make the decisions for prevent that which we find offensive to be offered to ourselves and others?

Do we trust the laws of supply/demand when interpreted by those who provide us with our choices to make these decisions for us?

In the internet this discussion moot, or will we see the incursion of "forced non-choice" begin to encroach upon unfettered electronic freedom?

Remember--for every choice that someone else makes for us that we agree with...someone else makes a choice that we might not agree with, and we might never know...

What if your local bookstore didn't bring in any books on homosexuality or other religions or other political viewpoints?

Is it important to better understand things (or even be aware of) you disagree with?

In the name of freedom of speech, do you have to accept the teaching of intelligent design? In the name of avoiding hate speech, do you criminalize holocaust denial?

All of these are choices that we make...or are choices that are made for us...

I've met Steve from Neumo's--he seems like a great guy. In the course of his job, he made a decision that he thought that people who would come to his club would be interested in seeing a popular music performer. That was his decision...

Perhaps he made that decision unaware of the controversy surrounding that performer (although, I certainly followed the story of the boycott of Buju's UK performances from July of this year...and this whole thing has been bubbling around for the past 14 years, I'd like to think that others more involved in the music industry would be just as informed as I am) or maybe the controversy WAS considered (I mean, it isn't an automatic bad thing to be known as the club brave enough to put on shows from controversial artists...)

And, just as surely, in the course of his job, another choice has been made...the choice to cancel this concert, once the impact on the community that would be served by the club regularly was properly illuminated by the discussion here on the Slog.

Again--that's a choice...and you could argue that other choices also have validity...

Is it better to isolate someone who hates something they don't understand...or is it better to put that person amidst those he claims to hate, to show the humanity of us all? (i.e., Is it better to sanction China or assimilate it?)

Is it better to stop a neo-Nazi march or better to let it happen and let people protest against it?

...and who makes those choices?

pg--certainly a lot to think about, David!

David, who here is casting your opinions as legislative facts? Were you responding to something in particular when you wrote that?

I, for one, have been trying in my arguments to preserve a distinction between speech and action, so I'm not sure where you're getting this notion.

Does it matter that in all of the posts and comments about this I can't find a single instance of a Stranger staffer calling for a boycott of Neumos?

I believe that Neumos sincerely thought that the homophobia was in the past when they booked buju. I think that they realized that a large part of their customer base wasn't ready to forgive buju and they decided to cancel it rather than risk alienating their audience. No big deal.

Buju will probably come in a couple of years and play some club and no one will notice or make a big deal about it and that's fine. In this case, I like the outcome.

if you are gay or consider yourself gay-friendly and allow buju to play, you're homophobic, and if you're not gay-friendly you're by definition homophobic, whether or not you allow buju to play. if you don't allow buju to play then you are against free speech, and that is every bit as un-american as hating gay people.

Also: Robotslave: I missed your post back at #43, but obviously, I disagree with you. As you wrote earlier, "what you've done here isn't just whine, what you've done is put Neumo's and other Capitol Hill clubs on notice— they must now vette everyone they book and make sure they pass the homo-friendly litmus test, or risk condemnation from The Stranger."

Uh, how is this alleged "required vetting" different from how thing's have operated in the past? The Stranger has always suggested some shows and dissed others, liked some bands and hated others.
Now we have a situation where we dissed a performer so hard the booker actually cancelled the booking. I'm as shocked as you are, frankly, though perhaps for different reasons.

Also, it was a couple of years ago when I realized that the dancehall genre, which I love, is pretty much saturated with homophobia. If someone could recommend a non-asshole dancehall guy, maybe we could assert our communal influence and drive up that artist's sales. Imagine, guilt-free dancehall jams (at least until he gets stabbed to death in Jamaica).

I read The Stranger to find out what's cool and fashionable right now. You guys are plugged into the young urban scene and can be counted on to promote artists who are currently in fashion. Is there anything wrong with that?

At parties on Capitol Hill everyone is always saying "I heard about it in The Stranger" or "The Stranger hates that theatre group". Don't clubs and restaurants advertise in your publication because you influence local culture? Everyone knows that a restaurant review can make or break a struggling new eatery. Isn't that legislating local taste?

The Stranger now hates Buju - a performer who The Stranger used to promote. I just want to know what's cool on Capitol Hill today so I don't go to the wrong concert. Nemos almost booked a band that's not fashionable and The Stranger helped Nemos by telling them what's fashionable today. Yesterday The Stranger promoted Buju, but today he's not fashionable. Who can keep up with the fashions if The Stranger doesn't state what's "in" and what's "out"?

We love reading you guys because you tell us to it's fashionable today to love the Al Gore movie and hate Buju. That's how it's supposed to work right?

David, I was under the impression that someone at The Stranger had contacted people at Neumo's and said something to them directly that brought about the cancellation; angry words, possibly threats of a continued stink in the pages of the paper, possibly a threat to organize a demonstration.

If that's not what happened, if nobody at the paper contacted anyone at the club directly to apply pressure, if the staff at Neumo's just read SLOG and decided to cancel the show, then I've misunderstood what happened here.

Are you saying Neumo's cancelled the show without any contact from The Stranger apart from reading your published material?

In any event, the normal arts coverage in The Stranger most certainly does not contain calls to censor art or shut down shows for political reasons, such as that in Charles Mudede's initial SLOG post yesterday, which has been echoed repeatedly in subsequent posts by various Stranger staffers.

I just want to know what's the hot new restaurant, what gallery show is in fashion, and which musician is currently cool.

Fashion is always changing to I could care less is The Stranger loved Buju a gave his Ballard show a great review. If Buju is now out of fashion people need to know so they don't waste money on tickets.

first off, what the fuck is up with kimberly? maybe, if she posts the same thing, again and again, it will eventually be funny.

and, as far as i can tell, robotslave, you were incorrect in the assumption that the stranger call the club. the stranger is also not the only people complaining about the show. a lot of livejournal groups were talking about it, and the club's first response was to the livejournal people, not the stranger.

you_gotta_be_kidding_me: Don't underestimate me or play me for stupid. I get it, and what I get is that when faced with strong opposition, Neumo's stood up and did the right thing (IMO). I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt on this--I assume they didn't understand the opposition they would receive at the time they made their contract and they may not have understood the social implications. And while I'm happy to pressure them to cancel the act, I wouldn't go so far as to ask them to expose themselves to contractual liability and the expense of a lawsuit to get rid of Buju. That's just not practical. I'm happy with my ounce of flesh--I'll leave it to you to continue to demand a pound, rational or not.


Do you work at The Stranger? If not, then you don't know whether or not anyone there called the club.

Neumo's first response may or may not have been to "livejournal people," but it is noteworthy that the club's first response was, in essence, "we hear your concerns but we're not going to cancel this show."

This issue has really brought out a lot in people and i have enjoyed reading peoples responses. I hope Nuemos is rewarded through patronage of people who were upset about this show. there is an old saying: "you cant complain if you dont vote" unless of course you are a felon who isnt allowed to, which in this case, doesnt apply.

Seriously. Fuck you Schmader.

You're a perfect example of how easily brilliance and empowerment can be corrupted by ego.

The selective reponses in these threads have almost all been to the idiots who can't see there's no civil rights or censorship issue here.

Most of us understood that before we opened our mouths but you elect to respond to the LCD. Suspect.

This is nothing more than a matter of conscience, ethics and understanding the bigger picture. That's all. You're just being accused of being shortsighted, masturbatory and selectively concerned. Nobody with a brain is accusing you of censorship or civil rights abuse. Duh.

The few times you have responded to items pertinent to your use of judgement in fanning this fire have been the novice chessman's style of reaction in which a new conundrum is created with your response. Shit man, are you studying George Bush's Q & A technique or soemthing? You've got it down pat.

There's no dialogue here, no respecting of any idea bigger than what's beyond your nose. Talk all day, nobody's fooled.

Straight up fuck you. I'm a long time fan, a long time reader and it just occurred to me today that you and a few of these other fuckers at The Stranger will throw anybody to the dogs if it polishes your fucking badge a little.

Screw the semantics, look at the effects. The only thing you guys succeeded in doing was padding Buju's wallet, garnering some attention for yourselves by engineering the news instead of reporting it and putting a wonderful group of people at Neumo's in the hot seat which they're all too happy to pay their way out of right now.

Right on, Brotherman.

It's tragic that Neumos will lose so much money over this, but it was their choice to book a homophobe for a show on Captiol hill, just as its their choice to cancel the show. They must've weighed several factors, including public opinion and the bottom line, when making their decisions. But they were decisions made by the club, not by the Stranger or Kerri Harrop or anyone else. And nothing that's occured here remotely constitutes an infringement on free speech.

As a side note, remember that episode of Strangers With Candy where Geoffery Jelinek cries out against the "censors" that won't buy his art? Fantastic!

A lot of people here are ascribing The Stranger with an almost omnipotent power to shut down businesses, cancel shows, influence the weather, etc. If The Stranger were as powerful as y'all seem to think it is, a lot of us would be planning our next Monorail trip right now. Get some goddamned perspective.

Neumo's took a financial hit, and that's unfortunate, but perhaps its staff should've used more common sense before booking Buju in the first place. Dude's been extremely controversial for years.

yo Robotslave -

In response to your question, "I was under the impression that someone at The Stranger had contacted people at Neumo's and said something to them directly that brought about the cancellation; angry words, possibly threats of a continued stink in the pages of the paper, possibly a threat to organize a demonstration.

Are you saying Neumo's cancelled the show without any contact from The Stranger apart from reading your published material?"

NO, I am the only person from the Stranger who talked to Neumo's and I did not threaten them, ask them to cancle the show or threaten a boycott. So YES, the owners took the initiative to cancle the show in response to numerous messages and emails from angry Seattleites, not pissy phone calls from the Stranger.

Also, I'm sick of seeing this comment:

"the normal arts coverage in The Stranger most certainly does not contain calls to censor art or shut down shows for political reasons, such as that in Charles Mudede's initial SLOG post yesterday, which has been echoed repeatedly in subsequent posts by various Stranger staffers."

Charles is the only person to have posted saying the show should be canceled. Neither Eli, I nor anyone else here posted ANYTHING saying the show should be canceled.

Go back and read the posts before you discuss the "echoes" of "various staffers", please.

Dear Done:

I don't know what to say. You bitch about my allegedly disingenuous Slog responses, then boil down the entire argument to, I guess, calling me dumb.

Whatever. Thanks for spelling my name right.


Your own reporting on this story has been unbiased. The opinions of Eli and David have not. David, in the very post these comments are attached to, said "Neumo’s ... did the right thing in rejecting plans to give Buju Banton a singular platform to spew his shit."

Your assertion that no Stranger staffer other than Charles has "posted ANYTHING saying the show should be canceled" doesn't stand up to cursory inspection.

Now it's your turn. Show me a Stranger staffer who said or implied that the show shouldn't be cancelled. Someone who disagreed with Charles Mudede, who set both the parameters and the tone of this debate.

David Schmader you are a god!

I like you even more after reading your concise rejoinders to these idiots. They are beneath you really.

The Stranger promoted this band the last time they played Seattle (in Ballard), and now The Stranger called for a boycott? So what? Consistancy is boring, but people getting all upset about a stupid band is really amusing.

I flip flop on my politics all the time and love to watch self-rightous assholes get their panties in a bunch. Geeze a person can change their mind already...

Read what The Stranger wrote before for giggles

(Bohemian Backstage) It's always fun to see how reformed bad-boy performers will handle or skirt their older, less-enlightened material live. This show should provide just such an opportunity. Buju Banton started out as a dance hall toaster with all the usual macho bragging about guns, girls, and even one infamous boast about gay-bashing. Now he's changed his tune with songs about spirituality and ending violence. His new album, Unchained Spirit, mixes reggae, ska, and gospel harmony with his love of Jah. NATE LIPPENS

Morality is mostly subjective. So holding someone accountable is a subjective matter in the eye of the beholder.

I don't know if that's the best question to ask concerning this issue.

Ooooh, Mrs. Roboto?!? I'm so there.

"Your own reporting on this story has been unbiased.

The opinions of Eli and David have not.
David, in the very post these comments are attached to, said "Neumo’s ... did the right thing in rejecting plans to give Buju Banton a singular platform to spew his shit.

Your assertion that no Stranger staffer other than Charles has "posted ANYTHING saying the show should be canceled" doesn't stand up to cursory inspection.

Now it's your turn. Show me a Stranger staffer who said or implied that the show shouldn't be cancelled. Someone who disagreed with Charles Mudede, who set both the parameters and the tone of this debate."

Dude! You just totally Capt. Kirk'ed your robot masters, who must now be wigging out with crazy lights, smoke pouring out their grills and sparks a'flying! "unbiased opnions!" Man, that's priceless! Semantic discombobulation!

Because, like, an opinion is always based on the bias of the holder, right? So, an opinion can never be "unbiased", because it's not exactly an assertion of fact, get it? Fucking brilliant!

Oh, yeah. And the part about asserting that Schmader's post influenced Neumo's decision to cancel the show - AFTER THEY CANCELLED IT ALREADY - ooh, man! Just like that time when Cap't. Kirk went back in time and almost changed the future! Amazing!

And, finally, not to be outdone - you DEMAND proof that somebody DIDN'T DO SOMETHING! That is soooo subtle, because everybody knows - you can't prove a negative!

Man, you are like - A God. A God enslaved by robot masters! I'll bet there are just dozens of fanboys lurking in the darkness of their mother's basements already composing K/S fanfic in your honor.

geezus. there are a lot of ass holes on this website. david, i'm glad you have beliefs, and that you stick by them. i agree with you, but even if i didn't, i would hope that i wouldn't resort to the crazy shit that lots of people seem to spit out.

Remeber strategy and tactics? IT was a hot button a few weeks back.

Your strategy is protect the gays from hate speach in "their" neighborhood. Your tactics? Pay the man responisble for hatespeach and put one of your best venues closer to being out of business.

Way to go! Fubu is richer, Neumo's is a little closer to being broke and you're no worse off than if Fubu had played here rather than there.

Rainbow Swazi. Gay Hitler. Out.

I don't give a fuck if Neumo's crashes and burns. Nightclubs are a dime a dozen, and something will eventually rise to replace it, either there or elsewhere.

I don't give a fuck if Buju leaves town richer than when his tourbus rolled in.

I am quite happy that a call action THAT STARTED FROM WITHIN THE GAY COMMUNITY gained mainstream attention and acceptance prevented that vile piece of work from taking a dump in the middle of Seattle's gayest neighborhood.

Oh no, waaah, Gay Hitlers. Is that what you think? Good. Think it. Let it be at the back of your mind before you even consider spewing whatever homophobic bullshit you might otherwise say in public, especially on the hill.

For far too long now, the gay community has just turned the other cheek while suffering the stings of a thousand little assholes like Buju and his supporters, smiling bravely and whispering "tolerance." Fuck that. Find some other group to bully, or reap the consequences of your actions, of your speech.

OK, go do your end zone dance in the mirror, not here.

Also, this the internet so relax on the threats, it's corny.

I ain't the least bit homophobic, all your straight friends can't change the fact that you're harboring some obvious rage against heteros and you can't say that me talking shit on the internet is bullying anymore than I can you.

This ain't your therapy group, this is an internet blog. Snap out of it, tough guy.

I ain't the least bit homophobic

I'm sure you have plenty of gay friends.

you're harboring some obvious rage against heteros

Golly, I've been found out!

you can't say that me talking shit on the internet is bullying anymore than I can you

I don't give a fuck what you spew on the Internet. It's simply my hope that the chilling effects of all the hand-wringers in the tempest do indeed come true.

This thread has gotten so NASTY. Who would have thought that some piece-of-crap artist spewing horrendous lyrics could cause people to just utterly and completely freak out.

I totally agree with you, Schmader. You've done well in the comments, and haven't reacted to baiting, regardless of what Done and Robotslave might have to say.

Buju's a shitty artist. The club realized it. Deal with it, one and all.

you people are SO mouthy! let me break it down for you all.

1. jamaicans are stupid. How can you call it "hate speech" when you can't understand one word that comes out of their stupid mouths?

2. if it is ok for an "oppressed person" to call me a faggot then it is ok for me to call them "stinky poor ghetto assholes"

3.stop boohooing about buju's concert being cancelled. Just take your money, go to the woodland park zoo, and go to the gorilla exhibit. You will see a replica of his concert there.

4. =P

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