Weston “Cro Cro” Rawlins
‘Creative licence, however, cannot be used as a sword to engage in ill-informed or baseless attacks which can decimate an individual’s character or integrity’ – Justice Frank Seepersad
By Prior Beharry
THE High Court has restrained calypsonian Weston Rawlins also known as Cro Cro from performing his song Another Sat Maraj is Outside with the offensive parts.
The injunction was granted by Justice Frank Seepersad on Saturday after businessman Inshan Ishmael filed a notice of application for interim relief against Rawlins.
Cro Cro was expected to perform the song at fund raising shows at the Naparima Bowl and Government Plaza on Saturday and Sunday. According to the ruling, he can perform the song but he must edit the offending portions.
In his ruling, Justice Seepersad said Cro Cro’s song referenced the name “Inshan” which was juxtaposed against the assertion that this individual sells stolen car parts in the Bamboo.
He said Ishmael was a well-known social media and public commentator and the court took judicial notice of the fact that he owns and operates a car parts business in the Bamboo.
Justice Seepersad said, “The application reveals that there were media interviews given by the Defendant (Cro Cro) with respect to his calypso Another Sat Maharaj is outside and there were public views that this calypso spoke about Inshan Ishmael.”
He said there was information to suggest that Cro Cro on February 14 in an interview with Isha Wells admitted to camouflaging Ishmael’s name in his song and that he needed to teach Ishmael a lesson.
Justice Seepersad said, “The Court therefore feels with a high degree of assurance that it is plausible that the Claimant (Ishmael) may be able to establish at trial that the Defendant’s (Cro Cro’s) calypso refers to him.”
He said the assertion that the subject of the calypso sells stolen car parts was significant and if it was established that the words relate to Ishmael, it was possible that a reasonable person may conclude that Ishamel was a thief.
Justice Seepersad said, “The Court is cognizant that the Defendant has not yet filed a defence and if, for example, he
asserts that the subject of his calypso has been convicted for larceny of car parts, then his words may have been sung with justification.
“At this stage the Court has no information which suggests that the Claimant is a convicted thief. The calypso also says, ‘pure racism coming through Ishmael brain’ and it is possible at the trial, that a Court, may be convinced that these words mean that the subject of the calypso is racist.”
He said there was a serious issue to be tried and it cannot be said, at this stage, that Ishmael’s case was doomed to fail or that it is unlikely that he would succeed at the trial.
Justice Seepersad said, “A person’s reputation is not a tradable commodity but it is a prized possession. It is carefully fashioned over one’s lifetime and must be jealously guarded.”
He said, “Calypso is an integral part of the cultural landscape in this Republic. The art form has fashioned the way we live, think and socialise and the commentary it offers can catalyse awareness and change. Creative licence, however, cannot be used as a sword to engage in ill-informed or baseless attacks which can decimate an individual’s character or integrity.”
Justice Seepersad said, “We strive to live in a civilised space where freedom of expression must be balanced and must be engaged in a reasonable, fair and proportionate manner which ensures that the fundamental rights of others are not eviscerated.
“This Court will not condone or accept any position which advances a narrative that social media comments or commentary by calypsonians is sacrosanct and that people should be free to say whatever they feel as they ‘speak their minds’ even if the content is divisive, derogatory, deceitful, dishonest or defamatory.”
The injunction restrains Cro Cro whether by himself, his servants or agents or otherwise however from performing and/or further redistributing, publishing or causing to be published or disseminated and/or posted on any forum on the world wide web including but not limited to concerts and social media the song Another Sat Maraj is Outside unless the song is edited to excise all the offending portions as referenced in the claim filed herein.
Attorney Richard Jaggasar represented Ishmael while Cro Cro’s lawyer was Kareem Marcelle.