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Tufton challenged - Co-author of Kartel's book seeks to debate politician over statements made

Published:Monday | November 26, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Senator Dr Christopher Tufton

He is no stranger to controversy but this time, Vybz Kartel's co-author of his book, Voice of the Jamaican Ghetto, has come to his defence.

In a recent Gleaner article, it was revealed that National Security Minister Peter Bunting had introduced the audience at a Jamaica National anti-lottery scam task force forum to Vybz Kartel's song Reparation.

Bunting described the song as an example of how popular culture is used as a vehicle for spreading propaganda. Senator Dr Christopher Tufton, who acted as the moderator for the forum, called for the Government to enact laws to counter the influence of popular culture in promoting crimes such as lottery scamming.

Michael Dawson, who co-authored the book with Vybz Kartel has now issued a challenge to the senator. Dawson stated that he is willing to debate Tufton on his notion that the constitutional rights of some should be suspended in reference to dancehall lyrics.

"I am sick of the hypocrisy of these Jamaican politicians, to put in a Jamaican term, is only the dancehall artistes dem have strength for," Dawson said.

He went on to highlight that an American singer who is a convicted abuser of a Bajan female artiste, performed on the Sumfest stage to much love and support.

"Scarface and Godfather 1, 2 and 3 are some of the most popular movies in Jamaica ... the sick truth is that the bullseye is on poor people's music."

Dawson argues that neither Bunting or Tufton should criticise Kartel without first reading his book. He further argued that in the book, Kartel condemns rape and robbery and appealed to politicians to create more opportunities for youths to reduce bureaucracy so that their 'hustlings' can become legitimate tax-paying businesses.

"Did they bother to mention that the song refers to scamming as being a lesser evil than shooting someone - No? The intention is not to understand where he is coming from or rationalise, the intent is to demonise. Did they bother to mention that the song started being played this summer but scamming has been a problem for years?" Dawson stated.

Defend dancehall

"Until they read what the man has written in its entirety, they can't criticise him by taking one verse out of one song to define him. However, my task in this debate challenge is not to defend Vybz Kartel or scamming, but to defend dancehall against what I believe to be a classist and racist ideology prominent in 'uptown' or 'classist' Jamaica where the dominant belief is that they have the God-given right to tell the rest of us what to listen to and what is moral and what is not. They behave as if Jamaica has a caste system."

When contacted, Senator Dr Tufton told The Gleaner that he would not court controversy to promote anyone's book.

"For the record, I personally enjoy dancehall music and attend dances all the time in St Elizabeth where I have my political base. I am also in full support of freedom of expression. At the same time, I am not in support of any forms of expression that promote violence and criminality, whether it's reggae, rock, jazz or any other form of music. This should not be a discussion about dancehall, but a discussion about promoting positivity in our society, rather than promoting the breaking of the law," Tufton said.