SF Weekly Reporter on His Payroll?
Over at the KPIX web site, reporter Joe Vazquez provides details on an unfortunate incident during homo-hating Buju Banton's performance earlier this week:
A release of pepper spray scattered fans at reggae artist Buju Banton's concert in San Francisco early Tuesday morning.Excellent factual reporting by Vazquez, especially when compared to a mistake laden story at the SF Weekly blog, written by freelancer Eric K. Arnold. His first version of the peppering was met with deep skepticism by local gays, and a terrific story by Eve Batey about Arnold's questionable reporting on the peppering appeared on SFAppeal.com:
It happened just before 12:30 a.m., about an hour after a group of protesters finished a demonstration outside the club, said Ben Thompson, booker for the Rockit Room club. Police were not called. It is still not clear who sprayed the gas.
"Nobody saw who did it," said Thompson. "For all we know, it was a Buju fan who was there." [...]
At issue: a song Banton wrote in 1988 called, "Boom Bye Bye," the lyrics of which allude to throwing acid on a gay man and using an Uzi to kill gay people. [...]
A protest against his concerts will continue. A website called "Cancel Buju Banton" lists the concerts that have been called off so far. [...]
Arnold's September 7 report on Banton's canceled Regency Ballroom performance received a number of comments calling him out on his remarks critical of protests of Banton, and his "Weekend Pick" of Banton's local shows certainly raised eyebrows.
But it's his latest article that's gotten him in really hot water with local activists -- a Weekly blog post that said (it has since been removed, which is unfortunate -- wouldn't a correction be a better move if one fucks up a story? Anyway, here's a screen cap) [...]
The Weekly's removed the story and replaced it with another one (with a different link) that says that, as opposed to a charge of protesters led by Pollo Del Mar, "someone let loose with pepper spray" during the concert. It notes that "An earlier version of this story mistakenly identified Pollo Del Mar and other LGBT activists as being responsible for the incident, based on misinformation from Banton's management." (Emphasis added.) [...]
It's still unclear from Arnold's article that the pepper spray was related to the protest [...] Even an employee of the Rockit Room said, according to Arnold's revised article, that "the protesters left before the pepper spray incident and never entered the venue." [...]
Activist Pollo Del Mar says she's received a call from Weekly writer Eric Arnold, who apologized to her for any "inconvenience." [...]
I condemn the pepper spraying, no matter who did it.
Based on previous stories by Arnold about Buju and his homo-hating ways, see here where the writer lays out what he really thinks:
Our two cents: this sounds like a record we've heard before. Homophobia is unfortunate, as is anti-LGBT violence, and should not be tolerated. Yet it's hard to see how targeting reggae artists has had or will have any influence in changing Jamaica's controversial, colonial-era "anti-buggery" law, which makes homosexual acts a crime in that country. The bottom line? Despite almost two decades of organized protests against allegedly-homophobic reggae songs, the law remains on the books.
Go here to read Arnold's favorable story from the SF Chronicle. BTW, that piece generated a glowing press release on his reporting from Buju's company. Click here to see another Arnold piece basically dismissing gay activists' concerns.
I made my issues known to Tom Walsh, the editor of the SF Weekly, and asked if Arnold was on Buju's payroll, to which he replied, no. Well, Arnold may not be on Buju's official payroll, but he sure is not an unbiased writer when it comes to reporting on these issues.
From London, longtime gay organizer against hate music, Brett Lock of OutRage! had this to say about Arnold:
He was one of the people who started pushing the "gays are racists who don't understand Jamaican culture" line several years ago. As you can see, he has a long history of apologetics for Dancehall's violent homophobia. He always used to approach you as an "impartial" reporter and then totally distort the report in Banton's favour. He's a creep.
Be sure to check out this 2004 piece holding Arnold to account, which ran on a UK music site.
The boycott of Buju's concerts, which I strongly support, continues across America and elsewhere. Go here for more info on the important boycott.