Call for ban on gun tunes holstered

January 19, 2021
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Executive Director of the Broadcasting Commission of Jamaica (BCJ) Cordel Green and university lecturer Professor Donna Hope are not on board with a renewed call for the banning of 'gun songs'.

The latest call for that came from Michael Troupe, councillor for the Granville Division in the St James Municipal Corporation. But Green said that "Jamaica will not solve its problems with violence by focusing disproportionately on one segment of the society and only a very narrow type of media". He noted that the BCJ had a reputation for enforcing rules which prohibit the airing of gratuitous violence or otherwise inappropriate content on Jamaican free-to-air radio and television. But he said that with a digital society, people can access content from anywhere.

"There are no rules for Internet-based radio and television stations. It will therefore be futile to implement measures that do not fit current realities. The fact is that Jamaican radio and television are no longer the only or dominant means of accessing content and so a new model of communications governance is required for the digital era," he said.

Promote digital literacy

Green said that the most urgent steps from the BCJ's point of view are that the "Government should urgently modernise the broadcasting law so that a content governance framework can be developed and promoted across radio, TV, social media, and online platforms and secondly, should legislate a mandate for the Broadcasting Commission to promote digital literacy. This would allow for a focused attention to that aspect of media governance," Green shared. Hope said that Troupe's cry is one she has heard for several decades.

"I am sure he is aware that music of that sort is already banned from free-to-air radio and also from being played in public places, unless what councillor Troupe is suggesting is that we become a more authoritarian kind of state, a very repressive state where people's private lives behind doors are reached into to ban the Internet," she said.

But Hope said she would discourage Troupe from that thinking as "young men and their involvement with our love for aggressive, violent activities have very little to do with the music" but more with how masculinity is defined. She said that whenever there is a spike in crime, the easiest thing to do is point the finger at music which is part of local culture.

"I would love to see how we enforce a ban on someone's private taste in music. It is the usual quick fix that comes. You ban the music and I suppose try to fix the culture, but the culture is not something you can fix, it comes from the society and it is a part of the whole upon which the society raises itself and how it is raised. It is a complete holistic way of life that Jamaicans are involved in," she said.

Hope said that reasoning is that by banning the gun tunes, the society would somehow become peaceful.

"Because it is easy to do that, to say that, without looking at the different variables that contribute to crime, and crime is bigger than gun crimes," she said. "And the reason why people are involved in criminal activity, whether white collar, blue collar or any other collar, is because of the rewards they get from it. This is what needs to get nipped in the bud."

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