Beenie Man - Open Letter to Ken West

My letter to Ken West (feel free to re-use - it would be good if some
people sent it to Ken West, and others to Vivian Lees, Creative
Entertainment Pty Ltd, Lvl1/4 Osborne St, South Yarra VIC 3141). It
costs $1.80 to send a letter to Australia via NZ Post - if anyone finds
an e-mail address, that would be better.

11th of November,

Ken West

Creative Entertainment Pty

8 Marlborough St

Surry Hills

NSW 2010

Dear Mr West,

It has recently come to my
attention that the line-up for the Big Day Out 2010 includes Beenie
Man. I am concerned that the inclusion of this 'artist' in the BDO
lineup could lead to violence at the Big Day Out. I am also concerned
that the performance of many of Beenie Man's songs in New Zealand
could constitute a criminal offence. I would therefore like to
encourage you to review the decision to include Beenie Man in the
2010 festival.

Many of Beenie Man's songs
include direct incitements to violence against homosexuals. For
example, his song “Han Up Deh” includes the following line:

chi chi gal wid a long piece a rope

Note that 'chi chi gal' is a
Jamaican English term for a Lesbian, and the sentence therefore
directs listeners that they should murder lesbians. This is only one
line out of many, across a large number of Beenie Man's songs, which
incite the use of lethal force against homosexuals. It therefore
seems likely that if Beenie Man performs at the Big Day Out, he will
sing lyrics inciting violence.

At the time of writing, it
is less than 24 hours from the announcement of Beenie Man as part of
the lineup, and already, there is a Facebook group for people
protesting that Beenie Man will be performing in New Zealand, with
over 650 members. This is despite the fact that the group has not yet
received much mainstream media attention. Members of the group come
from all walks of life, and of all sexual orientations. Many fans are
likely to boycott the Big Day Out if Beenie Man is to perform.

Others are considering
staging demonstrations at the Big Day Out in the crowd in front of
Beenie Man. These demonstrations could potentially turn lethal, with
people opposed to Beenie Man being attacked by others who have been
incited to violence, and could severely tarnish the reputation of the
Big Day Out. It is therefore likely that it would be bad business
sense for your company to allow Beenie Man to take the stage at Big
Day Out.

It is also likely that if
Beenie Man were to perform in New Zealand, both Beenie Man and the
organisers could be criminally liable. Section 3 of the Summary
Offences Act 1981 states that

person is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 months or
a fine not exceeding $2,000 who, in or within view of any public
place, behaves, or incites or encourages any person to behave, in a
riotous, offensive, threatening, insulting, or disorderly manner that
is likely in the circumstances to cause violence against persons or
property to start or continue”.

In addition, if someone did
act on Beenie Man's advice, and killed someone as a result of his
incitement, Beenie Man (and possibly the organisers, if they allowed
him to perform, knowing that he would incite violence) would be as
criminally liable for the murder as the person who performed the
killing. Section 66 of the Crimes Act 1968 states that

(1) Every one is a party to
and guilty of an offence who—

  • (a) actually commits the offence; or

  • (b) does or omits an act for the purpose of aiding any person
    to commit the offence; or

  • (c) abets any person in the commission of the offence; or

  • (d) incites, counsels, or procures any person to commit the

I am very much in favour of
free speech. However, direct incitement to violence goes beyond free
speech, and actually makes the person doing the inciting as guilty as
the person committing the violence. It is therefore a violation of
the rights of others, and so must be stopped.

I hope that, based on the
information I have presented above, you will take action to ensure
that Beenie Man is not allowed to perform in New Zealand at the Big
Day Out 2010.

Yours Sincerely,