Editorial

Freedom of expression at what cost?

Monday, December 09, 2013    

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JAMAICANS usually have a lot to say. Unfortunately, as a nation they are rarely able to speak with one voice on fundamental issues.

That flaw in the national personality has adversely affected development in every aspect.

Let's take this issue of 'murder music' in relation to the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organisations) Act, more popularly referred to as anti-gang legislation.

The executive editor of this newspaper, Mr Vernon Davidson, in his story 'State must deal with murder music, says Ellington' gives a taste of some of the more offensive lyrics produced by Jamaica's prominent dancehall artistes.

In case you missed it, catch a feel of the following:

Witness disappear a mi preference

Yuh caan convict without no evidence

No bwoy nuh try fi report the bad bwoy

No written statement, no arraignment

Yow, criminal measure need criminal solution

Buy out di judge, buy out di prosecution

Mi own di jury before dem introduce one

Dear reader, if that doesn't make your skin crawl, nothing will.

And how about these two lines:

Big gun! small gun! short gun! tall gun!

Any gun! gimmie gun! fassyhole dead!

How does a society under threat from criminals allow such passages to pass as 'freedom of expression'? Yet it appears that there are those central to the ongoing debate on the anti-gang legislation who believe that musical artistes should be free to deliver themselves of such lines for recording and public consumption.

It seems to this newspaper that in one of those low-crime societies, perhaps in wealthy, comfortably liberal northern Europe, such lyrics could just possibly be ignored, or tolerated with a shake of the head.

Perhaps.

We have our doubts, for such societies did not get to their stage of development by facilitating anti-social behaviour.

In Jamaica, a country classified among the world's most crime-ridden with a murder rate in excess of 40 per 100,000 people, society allows such expressions at its own peril. The society has been tolerant of such for too long, we believe.

Jamaicans need to understand that criminals have taken this country to a crossroads. The very survival of the nation state is at stake here.

If Jamaicans are serious about the future of their country then they must be serious about bringing crime under control and criminals to heel.

So far as this newspaper is concerned, people posing as artistes who advocate murder and violent crime are aiding and abetting criminals and should be treated as such. We urge legislators to avoid being sidelined and distracted by what we have referred to previously in this space as intellectualised foolishness.

As our parliamentarians set about the anti-gang legislation they must keep at the forefront of their minds the greater good of the nation state and its people.

Much water has gone under the bridge, but it is not too late for Jamaicans to build a strong and prosperous nation. To do that there can be no cosy accommodation for criminals.

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