CHICAGO -- Through a series of negotiations this week and last and with the threat of a demonstration, Gay Liberation Network (GLN) and other community activists were successful in persuading management at Kinetic Playground nightclub, 1113 W. Lawrence Avenue, to cancel "Kill Gays" dancehall performer Capleton for a show originally scheduled for late this Saturday night, October 9th.
In human rights circles, Capleton's Jamaica has one of the worst reputations for anti-LGBT mob violence in the hemisphere, with Jamaican police openly tolerating it. In 2004 the country's leading gay rights campaigner, Brian Williamson, was stabbed multiple times in an apparent anti-gay hate murder. The constant threat of violence has forced other gay rights campaigners to flee the country.
Capleton is one of a small group of Jamaican performers who have gained international notoriety for openly calling for the murder of lesbians and gays in the lyrics of their songs. As recently as last December at a concert in Jamaica, Capleton called out congratulations from the stage to those who commit violence -- "All who a bun battyman and sodomite, hand up!" ("All who have burned queers and sodomites, put your hands up!").
We are big supporters of free speech, having had our own threatened on numerous occasions. But only a fool would say that calls to lynch people - whoever the targets - is "free speech," any more than is yelling "fire" in a crowded theater. Nor is Capleton's right to spew hate from the stage compromised by GLN's right to protest his presence on that stage. He has a right, within limits, to say what he pleases; he has no right to the stage he wants to say it from, it doesn't belong to him.
The cancellation of Capleton is a victory that all human rights supporters should savor. The Gay Liberation Network, which initiated the campaign against Capleton in Chicago, commends Kinetic Playground management for putting human rights principles above dollars by canceling the show.
Please put an exclamation point on this victory by buying a drink or two this Saturday night at Kinetic Playground, 1113 W. Lawrence Avenue, so that the management and staff there know that Chicago is willing to stand behind those who follow their conscience.