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McKenzie warns against stupidity of anti-gay lyrics

Published:Tuesday | July 20, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer

Close to the end of his address at last Wednesday's third induction into the Jamaica Music Hall of Fame, Clyde McKenzie moved from the importance of preservation to the impact of free expression.

He was speaking at the Mayfair Hotel, West Kings House Close, St Andrew, as the Jamaica Association of Vintage Artistes and Affiliates inducted Desmond Dekker and the Aces, the Blues Busters, Don Drummond, Island Records, Burning Spear, Jackie Edwards, Jackie Mittoo, Leslie Kong, Toots and the Maytals and Delroy Wilson.

"We have to be very careful about some things," McKenzie said. "The fact is, putting certain things in the public sphere helps to normalise them. I have said to my artistes, when I used to manage them, "you see this thing about every day you go on a stage and waging war against homosexuals, it is a stupid thing"," he said.

The stupidity lay in the fact that it supported the very thing it was supposedly opposed to, as by talking about it in the public sphere, artistes were normalising it by giving it exposure.


Further, speaking about regulating that public sphere, McKenzie said "we have to be very guarded about the kinds of interventions we require of the state."

He added: "You see certain things that we would suggest have been changing in the society in recent times, it is coming from people having the ability to say what they want to say in a climate that does not penalise them."

So McKenzie cautioned that one has to be careful in speaking about the curtailment and abridgement of people's rights to expression.

He also pointed out that "many of the things we are calling for, legitimately, we have tools to deal with them but we don't have the political will. Wi 'fraid". However, McKenzie is confident that once Jamaica garners the courage to make the political decisions, the transformation of the country will be startlingly rapid.

Marie Francis read the citations at the induction ceremony hosted by Norma Brown-Bell.