Public affairs officer at the United States Embassy in Kingston, Joshua Polacheck, is suggesting that some Jamaican entertainers who say they are being kept out of the United States because of homophobic lyrics are not telling the truth.
Polacheck said yesterday that Jamaican entertainers have “never” been denied visas or had them taken away over matters such as as anti-gay lyrics.
“No artiste has ever been refused a visa for artistic reasons, and that includes promoting views that are either loving or repelling. The market may not choose to employ them,” Polacheck said.
“Sometimes no one wants to hire them and they are using that as an excuse,” he added.
He said that for a person to get a performer’s visa, a US promoter must petition for the artiste to enter that country for a show or to do a tour. He surmised that Jamaican artistes may be peddling lies about being denied US visas because of homophobic lyrics when in reality it does not make economic sense for promoters to seek to bring them to the US to perform.
“If they believe, for their own market reasons, or their own reputation as a promoter, that the lyrics or your ideology would be damaging in the market place, they are not going to invite you,” Polacheck said.
The US spokesman said that it is important to determine whether artistes who do not have performer visa have visitors visa. According to Polacheck, the entertainers may well have been disqualified from getting US visas because of their involvement or association with criminality.
“We do not look at the content of an artiste’s work unless they are a member of the Nazi Party … . Whatever ideology, whether hateful of loving, that they chose to promote doesn’t matter in the visa adjudication process,” Polacheck said.
In a bid to support his argument that the US has not been hostile to entertainers who say unfavourable things about public officials or espouse a particular ideology, Polacheck pointed to reggae artiste Chronixx who continues to enjoy a US visa despite insulting US President Barack Obama.
At the time of Obama’s historic visit to Jamaica, Chronixx referred to him as a “waste man” but recanted after public backlash.
“He has said things that are a direct insult to the President of the United States. … If Chronixx had insulted the president of the PRC (People’s Republic of China) he would never be allowed in China again,” Polacheck said.
He said that persons like artiste Jah Cure, who served time in prison on a rape conviction, will never be granted a US visa.
“There are persons like Jah Cure, who committed crimes of moral turpitude who will never get visas because they have committed crimes of moral turpitude or connections to narcotics trafficking. Many artistes, I am sorry to say, who are connected to Vybz Kartel … . Many of the people that he worked with were not only musicians but were involved in the narcotics business,” Polacheck said.
The US embassy official suggested that many entertainers may have an elevated sense of importance by believing that counsel officers have time to be combing through the lyrics of their songs to determine whether they are offensive.
“There are counsel officers who don’t even know who these people are who are coming in front of the window and having a O1 petition (performer visa application) much less saying, ‘Oh my gosh, I better Google to see if they have pro or anti-gay lyrics,” Polacheck said.