The Art of Imitation

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Jamaica’s broadcasting regulator ordered a ban against music and TV broadcasts deemed to glorify criminal activity and behavior, a move that many artists said will do little to stop crime but could stifle artistic work, the Associated Press reported.

Officials said the ban would target media that is deemed to promote violence, drug use, scamming and weapons, adding that such work “could give the wrong impression that criminality is an accepted feature of Jamaican culture and society.”

The ban also advises channels to avoid using “urban slang” terms related to making money or lavish lifestyles, such as “bank/foreign account,” “purse” and “client.”

Currently, Jamaica is struggling to curb high levels of gun violence, which has caused the island nation to have the highest murder rate in the Caribbean and Latin America last year, according to research center Insight Crime.

Even so, Jamaican officials have implemented such bans in the past but such restrictions have not lasted long, according to rappers and musicians that rejected the recent government order.

Several artists criticized the new ban, noting that it will have little effect on criminality but also cuts populations affected by heightened gun violence out of the conversation.

Others described the move as a curb on free speech, adding that it also acts as a way to scapegoat artists for larger state failures in addressing endemic problems and discontent.

“Art imitates life, and the music is coming from what is happening in Jamaica for real,” Stephen McGregor, a Jamaican Grammy Award-winning music producer and singer told the AP. “But because it doesn’t fit the moral mold of what they would like it to look like, they try to hamper it.”

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