Sri Lanka bans rapper Akon over racy video 'defaming Buddha'

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Sri Lanka bans rapper Akon over racy video 'defaming Buddha'

Postby Ben » Fri Mar 26, 2010 1:45 am

In case you haven't seen this...


Sri Lanka bans rapper Akon over racy video 'defaming Buddha'

SRI Lanka has refused to issue a visa to Akon, the Senegalese-American singer and rapper due to perform there next month, after Buddhist activists took offence at one of his music videos.
They said yesterday that the video for Akon's song Sexy Bitch, featuring bikini-clad women dancing in front of a statue of Buddha, had offended members of the Sinhalese ethnic majority, which is mainly Buddhist.

On Monday, hundreds of protesters stormed the head offices of the Maharaja Broadcasting and Television Network, the concert's media sponsor, injuring four employees, smashing windows and damaging parked cars.

Sri Lankan officials said Akon and his entourage had yet to apply for visas but the government had already decided not to allow him into the country for the concert on April 24, which is sold out.

Anusha Palpita, the Information Department's director-general, said the main allegation against Akon was that his video was "defaming Buddhism".

A statement on Sri Lanka's official government news portal added: "Apart from this particular controversial video clip, some of Akon's lyrics are not suitable for public articulation." Sri Lankan activists opposed to the concert have formed a "We hate Akon" group on Facebook, which had 11,700 members yesterday.

Akon said in a statement he had not been aware of the statue: "I myself am a spiritual man, so I can understand why they are offended, but violence is never the answer and I am disheartened."

The incident illustrates the influence on the government of hardline Sinhalese nationalists.

The Times, syndicated here: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/wo ... 5845492276


My initial impression is that it Akon was grossly insensitive and as a result of protests, Akon portraying himself as victim.
Anyway, what are your thoughts?
kind regards

Ben
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Re: Sri Lanka bans rapper Akon over racy video 'defaming Buddha'

Postby BlackBird » Fri Mar 26, 2010 2:43 am

I watched the video on mute, curious to see to what degree Akon was supossedly 'defaming' the Buddha. After 3 and a half minutes of watching soft-core strip tease and akon and his buddy shaking hands and throwing each other in the pool, I deduced that the Buddha-rupa appeared for all of about 2 seconds, in the background during one shot. It was quite blurry, I don't think most people would even notice it, Akon certainly didn't.

It seems to me that they just hired this mansion out for the music video, and the mansion just happened to be one of those "eastern themed" jobs, which usually has a few Buddha-rupa dotted about the place, the irony of which is probably lost on such people... I digress.

I think Akon's in the right to say:

"I myself am a spiritual man, so I can understand why they are offended, but violence is never the answer and I am disheartened."


2 seconds of background Buddha-rupa and you get this:

On Monday, hundreds of protesters stormed the head offices of the Maharaja Broadcasting and Television Network, the concert's media sponsor, injuring four employees, smashing windows and damaging parked cars.


metta
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Re: Sri Lanka bans rapper Akon over racy video 'defaming Buddha'

Postby Guy » Fri Mar 26, 2010 3:10 am

Hi Ben and Jack,

BlackBird wrote:2 seconds of background Buddha-rupa and you get this:

On Monday, hundreds of protesters stormed the head offices of the Maharaja Broadcasting and Television Network, the concert's media sponsor, injuring four employees, smashing windows and damaging parked cars.



Their reaction was out of anger and ill-will, not out of loving kindness, therefore they acted from wrong intention and were not carrying out the Buddha's teaching. Same goes for wrong speech (i.e. "We hate Akon" facebook group).

In my opinion it is devotees who behave like this which is destructive to Buddhism, not what non-Buddhists do.

With Metta,

Guy
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Re: Sri Lanka bans rapper Akon over racy video 'defaming Buddha'

Postby BlackBird » Fri Mar 26, 2010 3:34 am

Image

How does the simile of the saw go again? ;)
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: Sri Lanka bans rapper Akon over racy video 'defaming Buddha'

Postby Mukunda » Fri Mar 26, 2010 4:05 am

I think saying the Sri Lankans shouldn't have been offended, and then acted improperly misses the point. Akon WAS insensitive (albeit through ignorance) to another peoples culture and religion. I'm almost certain that if the same thing had happened using any religious icon, members of that group would've taken offense. Then, for Akon to present himself as the victim is just ludicrous. Poor misunderstood Akon...weeping all the way to the bank. "Spiritual man", by what standard Akon? :shrug: Certainly doesn't show in your work or public persona. Is it too much to accept that Buddhist are human too and get offended and through their hurt and anger act improperly, or is every Buddhist supposed to a paragon of peace and tolerance just by reason of their religious affiliation?
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Re: Sri Lanka bans rapper Akon over racy video 'defaming Buddha'

Postby Modus.Ponens » Fri Mar 26, 2010 4:31 am

I find this ridiculous. There shouldn't be any Buddha-rupas in the first place, but that's another issue.
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Re: Sri Lanka bans rapper Akon over racy video 'defaming Buddha'

Postby Guy » Fri Mar 26, 2010 4:35 am

Hi Mukunda,

You are right, we are human, we do make mistakes. It is important that we recognize that mistakes are mistakes and not try to cover them up or justify them. It is important to recognize that acting out of anger is unskillful, not connected to the goal, so if/when we do act with anger we should at least realize that it was not the right way to act instead of thinking we are justified in acting that way or else we might never learn and therefore we will act that way again and again. Then if that is the case, what is the point of even calling ourselves Buddhists if we never bother to reflect on the consequences of our actions?

I am not saying that this is the case in this particular situation, but we should recognize that concepts such as "righteous anger" are not part of what the Buddha taught.

With Metta,

Guy
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Re: Sri Lanka bans rapper Akon over racy video 'defaming Buddha'

Postby Paññāsikhara » Fri Mar 26, 2010 4:40 am

As my dear old Dad would say: "Two wrongs don't make a right."
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Re: Sri Lanka bans rapper Akon over racy video 'defaming Buddha'

Postby Ben » Fri Mar 26, 2010 4:50 am

While I don't condone the violence, I can certainly see both sides. And i am very sensitive to Sri Lankans who feel that an icon of their spiritual tradition is trivialised.
Akon saying he is spiritual doesn't make him that. However, I guess we need to take him at his word on that one. I doubt he would be unwittingly insensitive to Muslims or Christians. My perceptions of Akon's double standard aside, I'm probably more irritated by the modern usage of Buddha-rupas as garden gnomes. And i guess it would be unfair to blame Akon for that phenomenon.
kind regards

Ben
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Re: Sri Lanka bans rapper Akon over racy video 'defaming Buddha'

Postby cooran » Fri Mar 26, 2010 5:03 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:As my dear old Dad would say: "Two wrongs don't make a right."


Just to clarif Ven. Huifeng .... would you say the Government of Sri Lanka is wrong in taking into consideration the strong emotions of the voting pubic in their country, and banning an entertainer who has caused such deep offense?

I think this is an entirely separate matter to the illegal expression of such offense by a small number of people.

with metta and respect,
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Re: Sri Lanka bans rapper Akon over racy video 'defaming Buddha'

Postby Mukunda » Fri Mar 26, 2010 6:18 am

Guy wrote:You are right, we are human, we do make mistakes. It is important that we recognize that mistakes are mistakes and not try to cover them up or justify them.


It is also important to understand why offense was taken to avoid further problem. A lot easier to point the finger at other's mistakes than to take responsibility for own, especially when we choose to not consider others sensibilities and feelings.
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Re: Sri Lanka bans rapper Akon over racy video 'defaming Buddha'

Postby Mukunda » Fri Mar 26, 2010 6:25 am

Ben wrote:While I don't condone the violence, I can certainly see both sides. And i am very sensitive to Sri Lankans who feel that an icon of their spiritual tradition is trivialised.
Akon saying he is spiritual doesn't make him that. However, I guess we need to take him at his word on that one. I doubt he would be unwittingly insensitive to Muslims or Christians. My perceptions of Akon's double standard aside, I'm probably more irritated by the modern usage of Buddha-rupas as garden gnomes. And i guess it would be unfair to blame Akon for that phenomenon.


:goodpost:

Seems to me that poor old Akon expects to understood, but doesn't really care about extending the same courtesy.
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Re: Sri Lanka bans rapper Akon over racy video 'defaming Buddha'

Postby Guy » Fri Mar 26, 2010 6:30 am

Mukunda wrote:
Guy wrote:You are right, we are human, we do make mistakes. It is important that we recognize that mistakes are mistakes and not try to cover them up or justify them.


It is also important to understand why offense was taken to avoid further problem. A lot easier to point the finger at other's mistakes than to take responsibility for own, especially when we choose to not consider others sensibilities and feelings.


By the sounds of it, I doubt his intention was to offend anyone. I am sure he won't make the same mistake again now that he knows he has caused offence. Lesson learned (hopefully).
Four types of letting go:

1) Giving; expecting nothing back in return
2) Throwing things away
3) Contentment; wanting to be here, not wanting to be anywhere else
4) "Teflon Mind"; having a mind which doesn't accumulate things

- Ajahn Brahm
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Re: Sri Lanka bans rapper Akon over racy video 'defaming Buddha'

Postby Paññāsikhara » Fri Mar 26, 2010 6:50 am

cooran wrote:
Paññāsikhara wrote:As my dear old Dad would say: "Two wrongs don't make a right."


Just to clarif Ven. Huifeng .... would you say the Government of Sri Lanka is wrong in taking into consideration the strong emotions of the voting pubic in their country, and banning an entertainer who has caused such deep offense?

I think this is an entirely separate matter to the illegal expression of such offense by a small number of people.

with metta and respect,
Chris


This is a great point, Chris!

I often feel, though I am no expert on Buddhist ethics, that a distinction can be made between precepts in Buddhism which are taken voluntarily by an individual, and laws of the land which are applicable to all, and enforcible.

My general impression is that the Buddha was much more concerned with the former. Though of course, at his time, things like laws were rather different from how they are now. Convert the king -> effectively the "laws" are changed.

On one hand, I can sympathize with the Sri Lankans in feeling that the video was perhaps insensitive. However, smashing things up is completely the wrong way to respond to that problem. One should do so in an intelligent and civilized manner.

For the govt, well, that is complex. In the west, we'd consider that he should still have "freedom of expression" and all that, and probably shouldn't be banned by the govt. However, if the govt felt for example that his presence may cause riotous behavior (and that actually doesn't seem too far from the truth), then they also have a responsibility to prevent that violence, which may result in harm or injury to innocent parties. One could either prevent those violent "reactors" to the problem, or ban the entertainer. I don't know the details of either option, so can't make an all-out statement either way.

Different countries also have different censorship laws, too. That may mean that these laws could have been applicable to Akon without the buddha-rupa incident. To my mind, the name of the video in question is highly dubious, for a start. Though again, this doesn't mean automatic banning. But, one would have to look at Sri Lankan law on the matter. The Sri Lankans should have the right to decide their own laws, and I do feel that they do act in a rather democratic manner. (Despite some infelicities.)

Not much of an answer, sorry. Just some general principles and thoughts. Would need more details to go further, and I don't like to make claims without some knowledge on the matter.
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Re: Sri Lanka bans rapper Akon over racy video 'defaming Buddha'

Postby PeterB » Fri Mar 26, 2010 8:06 am

Such actions are invariably counterproductive.
All that will result is that this video will be seen by far more people than would have been the case otherwise.
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Re: Sri Lanka bans rapper Akon over racy video 'defaming Buddha'

Postby Anders » Fri Mar 26, 2010 10:39 am

Mukunda wrote:I think saying the Sri Lankans shouldn't have been offended, and then acted improperly misses the point.


I really don't. When violence enters the picture, a 2 second shot of a buddha statue in the background quickly becomes a very irrelevant point to make a fuzz about.

Would it have been nice if that clip wasn't in the video? Sure. But the actual problem is Buddhist fundies making much ado about nothing. This is not a question of 'respect my religion'. It's a question of kicking up a fuzz about one's religion. It's not cool when Christians and moslems do it and it's not cool when Buddhists do it either.
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Re: Sri Lanka bans rapper Akon over racy video 'defaming Buddha'

Postby Anders » Fri Mar 26, 2010 10:41 am

Mukunda wrote:It is also important to understand why offense was taken to avoid further problem. A lot easier to point the finger at other's mistakes than to take responsibility for own, especially when we choose to not consider others sensibilities and feelings.


Bet you a fiver Akon won't be doing that again.
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Re: Sri Lanka bans rapper Akon over racy video 'defaming Buddha'

Postby Paññāsikhara » Fri Mar 26, 2010 10:43 am

Actually, did anyone notice that the Buddha in the video, even with all those scantily clad people dancing around, neither twitched or moved at all!
It is a true example of his meditative equipoise and insight into the nature of conditioned reality!
Just as when Mara's daughters tried to tempt him, and he was attacked by Mara's hordes!

:jumping:

If only we could do the same ... :tongue:
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Re: Sri Lanka bans rapper Akon over racy video 'defaming Buddha'

Postby Vangelis » Fri Mar 26, 2010 10:46 am

I'm shocked and disappointed by the response of a small handful of Sri Lankans. Show me in the suttas where the Buddha advocates violence as a response to anything. I'm not sure that there was such a violent response by Buddhists to the destruction of the Bamyan statues by the Taliban. Anyway, this sort of display by supposed Buddhists, saddens me.
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Re: Sri Lanka bans rapper Akon over racy video 'defaming Buddha'

Postby acinteyyo » Fri Mar 26, 2010 1:33 pm

People add more content to things as there really is.
If somebody would kick a wooden buddha-rupa down the street, I wouldn't bother any more as if somebody would kick any other piece of wood down the street. In fact I wouldn't bother at all.

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