Rowley: Watch Your Lyrics

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By Prior Beharry

PRIME Minister Dr Keith Rowley addressed the issue of explicit and potentially harmful lyrics in music, urging artists to take responsibility for the impact of their creations on society.

He made the comment at a press conference at the Piarco International Airport on Wednesday after attending the 46th Regular Meeting of the Conference of CARICOM Heads of Government in Guyana.

At that conference, Guyana President Dr Irfaan Ali’s said that lyrics that glorify violence and criminality, particularly concerning their influence on the youth do not have a place in Caribbean society.

During the press conference, Dr Rowley said, “I think the general consensus is that art, including music, has an effect on the human form and the human condition. And if the expression of that art, that music, is one that promotes and glorifies negatives in the form of violence, then clearly, it ought to be condemned.”

He said that Caricom leaders discussed the matter and Dr Rowley said there was a need to distinguish between condemnation and outright banning of such content.

He expressed concerns about the ineffectiveness of banning in today’s technological age, stating, “You can’t ban something like that because social media will make sure it’s available to all who want it.”

Dr Rowley said, “There was a time when if you said don’t print it in the newspaper, that was the end of that. But now everybody’s a publisher. So that is the dilemma that we are in.”

While ruling out a complete ban, Dr Rowley suggested restricting certain genres in public spaces and on public airwaves.

Expressing concern about lyrics that encourage violence and degrade women, Prime Minister Rowley declared, “Clearly, we don’t shy away from condemnation.” He proposed an increased focus on engaging with young people where they are, making it a priority for the Ministry of Education to create positive interactions with the youth in schools.

Dr Rowley made an appeal to those in the music industry, saying, “Those who are in the music business who understand that damage can be done there, they may be able to help with respect to, to put it simply, clean up their lyrics.”


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