*Note: due to the topic, there may be obscenities quoted.
Last week I experienced for the first time the pain of silence at the face of injustice. I’ve seen it in hindsight; I’ve been angered when hearing or reading about it. But I feel I’m beginning to understand its sting.
A popular American rapper known as Tyler, the Creator, came to Australia on tour. Without quoting (feel free to Google if you wish) I can tell you that his lyrics eroticize violence, rape, and murder of women. This includes the rape of dead and pregnant women. I don’t want to delve too far into Australian immigration law in this post because, first of all, I’m not Australian. After being frustrated by many one-sided discussions on American law and culture by those who are not American, I’d prefer not to do the same thing here to Australians. I will clarify, though, that some individuals and activist groups, chiefly Collective Shout (a group represented at the Unshackled festival), protested Tyler, the Creator’s admittance to Australian on the grounds of his lyrics and some Australian laws that prohibit visas being given to ‘‘people whose presence in Australia may, because of their activities, reputation, known record or the cause they represent and propagate, vilify or incite discord in the Australian community or a segment of that community, or represent a danger to the Australian community or a segment of that community.” (Australian Immigration Fact Sheet 78) Other musicians have been denied a visa to Australia, so this is not a novel concept.
Collective Shout works heavily through social media to gain public interest and support through petitions they brought to the attention of key government officials. Petitions to cancel gigs (At least a couple of which were all ages shows. All ages and this guy has songs that put the rape of corpses in a positive light.) were taken to venues. The Melbourne venue, the Palace Theatre, viewed the entire thing as a non-issue and accidentally expressed amusement at the…fuss…being made. Government officials made little or no comment on the topic, mostly ignoring the outrage. That’s all frustrating, but it wasn’t a horror.
Then a young woman, a member of Collective Shout, tweeted this: “hey @Culturekings ur ok that @fucktyler promotes rape & murder of women,hate speech. he is signing in ur store 2moro” (See her twitter HERE)
Tyler, the Creator retweeted her. His fans (I’m just going to stop here and take a deep breath as I try to figure out who hears his lyrics and thinks it would be swell to be a fan.) unleashed a wave of graphic threats and taunts. Again, I don’t want to quote them. You can read the full content in various articles on Melinda Tankard Reist‘s blog, including posts HERE. They are chiefly gruesome references to rape (Most recently a comment about how gang rape might “shut up” feminists like her was released.) and one fan even describes how it should happen. These are the same people who continue to insist they are unaffected by the music and lyrics some have the nerve to call artistic and creative.
Despite the backlash, this young woman continued with her plan to attend the Sydney show in order to video evidence of Tyler, the Creator’s harmful and perverse lyrics and behavior. While it is unknown if Tyler, the Creator was aware of her presence in the audience, he brought her up to the audience, speaking about her in threatening terms and calling her a b*tch and c*nt much to the delight of his crowd. Tyler, the Creator dedicated two songs to her. Songs about rape. I cannot imagine in the slightest the fear that must have gone through this brave young woman, despite her anonymity. Later in the show Tyler, the Creator asks his audience “Who’s going to rape and murder after this show?” Another person on stage laughingly, nervously, brushes it aside. Police have since confirmed that a young woman was sexually assaulted at the show.
Even with this horrific event in Sydney, the Palace Theatre in Melbourne allowed a scheduled show to happen the next day in a disgraceful show of apathy. A concert in Brisbane happened later in the weekend. It, like the show in Sydney, was all ages.
Even with this horrific and blatant display of Tyler, the Creator’s misogyny and violence towards women, government officials are unresponsive. Even with all of this, there is far less public outrage than warranted.
At the same time as these events, a Texas jury acquitted a young man of murder charges after he shot and killed a prostituted woman who took his $150.00 without having sex with him. His defense used a poorly worded law that allows one to use “deadly” violence to retrieve one’s property.
*Note: I refuse to let this turn into a debate on gun control, so please refrain from any comments in that direction or else I will be forced to remove them. I think bringing up gun control will hide the real issue I’m talking about today.
Australia, and the world really, was shocked at this injustice.
America was shocked.
So to recap – Australia has a government & even organizations dedicated to equality (i.e. White Ribbon Campaign) ignoring a guy who rouses crowds with his lyrics on rape and murder, and America produced the guy doing the rousing. We also have the guy who got away with killing a woman whose worth he reduced to $150.
But I’m sick of this. Because it doesn’t matter who is Australian and who is American. Despite comments from one side to the other about what one country is allowing to happen, nationality is not the issue. Are these stories really disturbing because they’re happening in the southern hemisphere or the north? No! They’re repulsive because they are happening on planet Earth. They’re horrible because real, live, human beings are affected. So you and I are responsible regardless of who issues us a passport.
Tyler, the Creator should outrage you because you are a human being and the source of one-half of your genetic makeup (a woman) is being violated by his very presence on stage as long as he sings these lyrics and gives no apology for inciting murder, rape, and gender inequality. A man getting away with deciding a woman is worth just $150, and then killing her, should anger you because you are a person. I don’t want to hear about how bad America is. I want to hear your rage that a living breathing soul was snuffed out by another – and her case overlooked.
I am sickened, furious, and sorrowful that there are not millions more voices writing and speaking and typing their outcry. I want you to feel sick to your stomach. I want you to be righteously angry. And I want you to weep. It is difficult to fully respond, or catch our collective breath, in the wake of such destruction; but those emotions are where it might begin.
Will you continue to be silent because it’s painful, or difficult, or distasteful?
Or will you now feel – really feel the weight of what’s happening – and stand up to do something about it? Not just when you have the energy. But even today, when it takes all that is within you?
No more philosophy.
Today is the day to seek justice.
Make some noise!