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Holness says no to censorship of the arts

Prime Minister Reacts To Hanna’s Remarks On Vybz Kartel Music

The debate continues. Prime Minister Andrew Holness in an interview addressed issues raised by Lisa Hanna as well as other members of society regarding Vybz Kartel’s music and dancehall in general.

In an interview with the Jamaica Observer Holness stated that his Government will not give in to any public urge for censorship as a response to controversial cultural activities, including dancehall music.

“My point is, how do we create consumers who are more discerning of the products that are being produced. Because, once you start to censure you kill creativity,” Holness said.

Lisa Hanna in an interview Nationwide News Network, while addressing addressing the issues of violence and culture at the time noted that, despite being sentenced to life imprisonment for murder, Kartel seemed to have continued recording his music, which some Jamaicans consider unfit for public consumption, from behind bars, which music is played publicly.
“If you are convicted, until you are not convicted, perhaps it is that your music need not be played on the radio,” Hanna said in the interview.

“The issue is where Kartel’s music is coming out (more) than any other person, because I have not heard any new song from Buju (Banton) since he has been incarcerated. I think that we need to get to the root cause of that. We need to find out how the songs are being made, how they are getting out. Is there corruption in the prison system? And not only for Kartel, I am not singling out Kartel alone. I am singling out all persons across the spectrum who are having an imprint on our children’s value system,” she said.

However Holness in his response stated the following:

“We have a liberal democracy’, we can’t escape that. And the society is not one that brooks any argument about censorship. We are not a society that holds heavily to censorship.

“The way to combat that, however, is that while we don’t like censorship, that shouldn’t mean that we allow everything to get in the public space. So the important thing that a society that is a liberal democracy must develop, if it is not going to censor, is to develop literacy and education.

“In other words, you combat negative information with positive information.

So the challenge we have is that a lot of people are absorbing, within the public space, much of the artistic creativity but without the context as to how this creativity can lead to the realisation of a certain reality.

“In other societies, you go and you watch the movies and it is not just dancehall, it’s just general. You have hip hop, you have rap music; we are just bombarded with things that have different moral perspectives. But, if you have a well-educated society that can place these things in context,and say this is art, this is from one’s own belief, it’s not what I necessarily believe, or I know that what this person is saying is wrong, then your society can survive that.

“But, if you have a high level of illiteracy or unreasonableness in the society, and people literally take what is being produced — not just as artistic content, but take it literally as their theme or anthem — then you begin to have a problem. So, the solution to Jamaica is not censorship, the solution is to increase our education; our teaching has to place things in context.”


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