On arrival at Barajas airport, he was detained by the National Police and informed, without explanation, that his visa had allegedly been revoked. The most likely explanation is that this was in response to (understandable) complaints from the gay community about the homophobic content of some of Sizzla’s lyrics. The singer has even come under criticism for his homophobia in his home land of Jamaica. He has also been banned from entering the UK for similar reasons. It’s a hard one to handle, this. On the one hand, you can certainly see the gay community’s point; the path to homosexual freedom has been long, arduous and often painful. Most of us who believe in true human liberty would readily agree that it is morally wrong to attack a person’s way of life just because it happens to be different from your own. However, one of the main tenets of human liberty is the right to free speech, whether you like what is being said or not.
Personally, I find homophobia as ridiculous and short-sighted as any kind of racism or prejudice. However, whenever I hear anybody express such opinions, I simply express the opposite. I simply disagree, which is my right, just as it is the right of the homophobe or racist to disagree with me. For every person that finds a particular remark offensive, there is another who believes it to make perfect sense.
The question here is not who is right and who is wrong but what freedom of speech really means. I am an atheist, yet I still have to listen to priests talk about God. I am a socialist, yet I still have to listen to the right-wing rhetoric of Mariano Rajoy or David Cameron. In both cases, though I don’t particularly want to hear what they say, even though I’m not all that interested in what they have to say, they still have the right to say it. Freedom of speech is meaningless if it is only the freedom to say certain things. How do we react when someone bans a film or a book because they think it will damage our sensibilities or somehow corrupt our morals? We react, rightly, with outrage. How dare you, we cry, tell us what to watch or what to read? Well, I’m sorry, but it comes to exactly the same thing when we are told what we are allowed and not allowed to say. There was talk regarding Sizzla of the dangers of silent complicity. Nobody said anybody had to be silent. In fact, again, that’s what freedom of speech is for. Regardless of what Sizzla has to sing on the subject, he’s not really going to bring homosexuality to the brink of destruction. Homosexuality has its own voice to answer back. And that is what it should do… answer back, not demand the same kind of intellectually intolerant, prohibitive climate that made the cause of homosexuality so difficult in the first place. There is no difference between the desire to ban homophobic remarks and the desire to ban homosexuality since both demand a restriction on human expression.
Myself, I like to believe that a stupid idea will die out. It might take a long time but eventually it will wither away and be forgotten. Forcing daft notions into circumstances where they must loudly defend themselves will only prolong those notions. So, enough book burning, enough banning; if you don’t like something, don’t try to repress it, counter it instead; offer the other side of the argument. Hypothesis, antithesis, synthesis… this is how we progress. If you don’t like what Sizzla has to say, don’t try and shut him up, try and convince him otherwise. Freedom of speech is the freedom to argue. Use it. Or shut up!