Friday, October 1, 2010

Legalize Harry!

One of the facts that struck me while reading the article on censorship laws in Lebanon on is that Harry Belafonte is banned in Lebanon.  I would not be surprised if many Lebanese don't know Harry Belafonte. His career peaked a long time ago, and he was mostly known in America.

I know his music well because it is the soundtrack of my childhood. My mother loves him. She still can't stop listening to his music and thinks he is the sexiest man that has ever lived. He is certainly sexier than my dad.

Yet, as a result of Lebanon's Kafkaesque laws, he is banned. The issue, presumably, has to do with his support for Israel.  When you google his name, however, you come across such articles from Mondoweiss:

The organizers of the Toronto Declaration – No Celebration of Occupation are pleased to announce that more than 1000 people from around the world-including many Israelis-have signed on in protest of TIFF’s City-to-City Spotlight on Tel Aviv. New signatories include music and cinematic legends Harry Belafonte ....... Leading intellectual figures Noam Chomsky, Judith Butler and Anne McClintock have also recently endorsed the declaration....

I raise this example as yet more evidence of the absurdity of Lebanese censorship laws, in unlikely event that anyone is still in doubt.

Obviously, the rules are unenforceable.  I'm happy to say that somewhere in downtown Beirut, as I write this, there is an 80 year old lady that is still breaking the law by singing along to this anti-Arab propaganda:

"Work all night on a drink of rum
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Stack banana till de morning come
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Come, Mister tally man, tally me banana...."

Let's hope Minister Mitri is able to get some sensible reforms done.  

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