1. On this date 150 years ago, November 24th 1859, Charles Darwin published “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection”. Back then it was seen as a challenge to the religious ideology and establishment of the day. I remember reading it when I was in university and I found it… well in a word: boring. I didn’t understand the furor it caused then… and even now for that matter… but as a Christian I have never felt threatened by other ideologies, whether they be religious or secular.
Today, a few of the online magazines and blogs which I read regularly, mentioned this milestone and referenced the debate between evolution and religion, primarily Christianity. Most of the commentary, regardless of the authors’ personal beliefs, tried to probe the issue in a non-judgmental way. However, there were a couple that held the view that if you believed in evolution, you were condemned to hellfire… or if you believed in creationism, then you were an ignoramus who rejected science and believed that the earth was flat. As a born-again Christian, I believe in the infallibility of the Word of God (The Bible) and also in certain aspects of evolution. So I’m not sure where that would place me in each of their eyes.
As I have researched and discussed this topic over the years, I have found that just as there are a variety of scientific theories around evolution, such as Darwinian Evolution, Social Darwinism and Scientific Evolutionary Theory, there are also a variety of religious, particularly a variety of Christian beliefs around creationism. I found that there are creationists, who are different from creation scientists, who are different from those who believe in intelligent design, who are again different from theistic evolutionists. Catholics, Protestants, Evangelicals and other denominations have varying beliefs on evolution. This topic is not as simple as the simple-minded on either extremes of this debate would have us believe.
For those want to broaden their outlook and take a more rational approach to the debate, one of the online resources I frequent, The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, has provided an extensive research package on this debate (see here). There are many interesting and informative topics which are discussed from a variety of angles… religious, scientific, political, social, personal, etc.
Although I always say that you need to believe in something or you’ll fall for anything, I am also always reminded by the words of St. Augustine, a theologian in 400AD, who said this in reference to the Genesis account of creation… way before the Darwinian evolution vs. Religion debate:
“In matters that are so obscure and far beyond our vision, we find in Holy Scripture passages which can be interpreted in very different ways without prejudice to the faith we have received. In such cases, we should not rush in headlong and so firmly take our stand on one side that, if further progress in the search for truth justly undermines this position, we too fall with it.”
2. I want to share a very interesting article on a blog authored by Lovebug35 entitled: “Racial Diversity in India”. What I found most fascinating is that the first inhabitants of India are the Australoids, who “are generally of dark complexion with wavy hair, broad nose, weak chins and these people form the slum population in India.” Within the Indian Caste system they are at the bottom of the rung and are referred to as “untouchables”. At the top of the caste system are the Indo-Iranians also known as “Aryans” (original Aryans… not the Hitler type), who were the last group to migrate to India. They “are characterized by their pale/fair complexion, narrow noses, long faces with prominent chins and have a variety of hair and eye colors.” It was these Aryans who instituted the caste system.
Well worth the read with lots of photos of each racial group.
(As an aside, this reminds me that I need to finish my post on Sammy Sosa and the whole skin bleaching controvery… coming real soon!)
3. Jamaican Dancehall Reggae star, Beenie Man, has been dropped from a music festival to be held in Australia and New Zealand due to protests and petitions from gay rights groups (see here). They objected to his appearance at the “Big Day Out” festival because the lyrics of some of his songs promote violence against gays and lesbians. Activist refer to him as a “murder music artist”, similar to issues surrounding another Reggae artists Buju Banton, as I had previously discussed in this post.
“Boom bye bye inna batty bwoy head”
Translation: “Shoot and kill a gay man in the head”
Back when I was living in Toronto in the late 90’s, I went to a Black club for a comedy night event. A local and very popular Black comedian was in the middle of his set when he made a rather offensive gay joke. At the end of the crowds laughter, a group of 3 people… a man and two women if I remember correctly… started chanting rather loudly, a pro-gay slogan while approaching the stage. The intent of their protest was to disrupt the set so that the comedian couldn’t continue. He (and everyone else) looked shocked and tried to make a couple of jokes at their expense, but they only got louder and more intense and he finally had to leave the stage. This was the first time I had ever seen anything like this in a Black club. The place was silent. The three protesters walked back to their seats, but you could cut the tension with a knife. After what seemed like an eternity, the DJ played “Boom Bye Bye”, an anti-gay reggae dancehall song by Buju Banton, that advocates deadly violence against homosexuals:
The mood changed for the worst as the song played and the crowd started chanting along with the above chorus. The three protesters, sensing that it would be in the best interest for their own safety… “life” … decided to leave.
Buju who is set to begin a North American tour at the end of September, recently has had shows that were scheduled in some major American cities, canceled due to protests, including a Facebook campaign, from gay rights advocacy groups. Apparently shows in Detroit, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Chicago, Las Vegas, Dallas, Houston and elsewhere have been canceled, as well as a growing daily list of venues. He is being referred to as a “murder music” reggae artist by the gay rights activists in their protest against him.
Recorded first in 1988, then re-released in 1992, the song catapulted Buju onto the reggae dancehall scene. I remember when it became a dancehall “hit”… it was an anthem that we (and I) all sang along with. Back then there was some controversy around the song, especially after the “hot” dancehall reggae artist at that moment, Shabba Ranks, made some anti-homosexual comments in support of the song and Buju. Similar to what is happening now, Shabba had some North American concert dates canceled due to protest from gay rights activists. He was dropped from appearing on the Jay Leno, Arsenio Hall and David Letterman Shows and eventually had to issue a statement of apology. His career, in North America at least, never recovered and he was subsequently dropped by his record label.
Although Buju has gone on to make a lot more positive, “conscious” and uplifting music, it is said that he still performs the infamous song, even after it was reported that he and other reggae artists had signed the Reggae Compassionate Act in 2007, renouncing homophobia and violence against gays and lesbians (Buju, who’s real name is Mark Myrie, is the last signatory on the document). He later denied signing the document. In 2004, he was charged but acquitted of participating in an attack on 6 gay men in Jamaica.
There is no doubt that dancehall reggae has a very homophobic, misogynous and violent element within it. These lyrics not only promotes violence against homosexuals, but also the “massacre-ing” of rivals and overly aggressive sexual intercourse called “daggering”.
Growing up in Jamaica, I was aware of the strong anti-gay sentiments held by the society at large. Being labeled a “sodomite”, “batty bwoy”, “mawma-man” or “chi-chi man” in school, would get you bullied unmercifully, while it would most likely lead to death (no joke) if you were an adult. It is still pretty much the same today and the U.S. based Human Rights Watch has referred to Jamaica as “The Most Homophobic Place on Earth”. It certainly doesn’t help that the current Prime Minister has stated that he himself, nor his government, nor Jamaicans on a whole, would accept homosexuality within their society, nor bow to international pressure to recognize gay rights anytime soon.
In addition to the efforts of gay rights activists in targeting anti-homosexual reggae artists, there is also a growing call within the international human rights community to boycott buying products or spending tourist dollars in places that are refered to as “homophobic countries”. I believe these types of boycott are harsh and the wrong approach, as it’s the poor who will be primarily affected and punished by these actions. It would be unfair to claim that every Jamaican supports violence against homosexuals, so they should all be punished for the opinions, songs and actions of a few (a large minority nonetheless).
I must say that I love all forms of reggae music, including dancehall. I am however very discriminating to what I listen to. There are many positive and “conscious” artists, even in dancehall, so I don’t listen to, buy, go to concerts nor support in any way artists nor music that advocates or encourages any form of violence against anyone. Now I do respect everyone’s right to free speech, just as I accept that there are consequences to speaking freely. One of the consequences is censorship. Although I do listen to Buju’s more positive songs, I would support the boycott and/or cancellation of his shows, if he is using the stage to promote and/or incite violence against homosexuals.