Hilary Beaumont

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Why Halifax shouldn’t welcome Chris Brown

with 23 comments

Renowned woman-beater and musician Chris Brown is coming to Halifax. On Friday, a promotions group announced Brown is headlining a show at Alderney Landing at the end of August.

Already some Haligonians are calling the show problematic.

As one Facebook user, Nichole Fougere, wrote on the event wall: “The town that got huge publicity for gross negligence in [a] rape case will [now] be host to one of the most famous women-beaters in music.”

Another commenter, Harrison Bennett, wrote: “Will Chris Brown be playing the hits or doling them out?”

Brown mercilessly beat up his girlfriend Rihanna, and didn’t stop until police intervened.

Halifax should not welcome this misogynist. His presence is a threat to a local conversation about violence against women—a conversation that’s still in its infancy.

There’s no doubt the show will influence Halifax. One of the largest venues in the city, Alderney Landing “exists to enhance the recreational and cultural life of the region” and councillor Gloria McCluskey sits on the non-profit society’s board.

Inviting and compensating Brown to play this venue sends the message it’s OK he beat up his girlfriend. It sends the message society should forgive, and celebrate, those who are violent. And it sends the message that if someone is (purportedly) talented enough, such violence is excusable.

It’s an all-ages event. Young people as well as adults will receive these messages.

As Fougere pointed out, Halifax is still recovering from the public unraveling of an alleged rape case. It blew up in local media, circled the globe and recently graced the front page of People Magazine. It’s no secret.

It’s no secret that a deceased young woman’s family believes her peers shamed her after she was allegedly raped with a quantity of alcohol in her system.

It’s no secret the story triggered a wave of questions about whether young people know what consent means, whether they’re learning enough about it in school and whether alcohol and drugs facilitate sexual assault.

We asked questions about bullying, slut-shaming and harassment. We wondered at the enormity of the problem if only an estimated eight per cent of sexual assaults are ever reported.

We heard answers: Women disproportionately experience violence, sexual assault and harassment, on the street and at home, and men are most often the perpetrators.

We discussed why these incidents are rarely reported, and why women don’t speak out. We condemned those who harass, rape and beat women (or anyone, for that matter). Through public discourse, we increased the visibility of the problem and decided as a city that such actions were deplorable and not to be tolerated.

We condemned that violence as we should condemn Brown’s.

Still, some believe we should forgive Brown and move on. As Gerri Elliott wrote on the event wall: “He’s a talented person who made mistakes in his personal life. It isn’t for us to judge. The past is the past. It should be left there.”

Forgive me for dredging up the past.

In 1962, The Crystals recorded the song “He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss).” The song title referred to pop singer Little Eva, who was beaten by her boyfriend. When the song’s composers Gerry Goffin and Carole King asked why she stayed with him, she said he was violent because he loved her.

After hearing that Brown would play Halifax, someone told a friend of mine, “Well, Rhianna must like that shit ‘cause she’s back with him anyway.”

The truth is, more than half a century later, we still live in an age of violence against women. And despite the high-profile conversation triggered by Rehtaeh’s death, we still blame women for that violence.

We should remember Brown’s actions because they’re symptoms of a deeply ingrained societal problem—a problem that we can’t fix until we recognize how serious it really is.


Written by hilarybeaumont

July 13, 2013 at 2:22 am

Posted in Opinion

23 Responses

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  1. I think you’re acting like a bit of a [sexist expletive]. Who cares about this guy? If some teenagers want to watch the guy dance and sing, who cares? I remember being young and getting excited when Eminem announced he was coming to my city. Then a bunch of busy bodies and politicians started making public claims that he shouldn’t be allowed in the country to perform, because he beat his wife, or whatever. Eminem did enter Canada, he performed his show at the SkyDome, and I never really even thought about the guy again until today. I was a teenager, just going to see some popular music at the time. I didn’t think “Ontario supports asshole men who beat women.”, and I don’t beat my wife.

    The only people seemingly to be in a uproar about Chris Brown coming to Halifax are those that are completely beyond this guys demographic anyway. The only song of his I know is “Run It”, and I suspect you don’t listen to his music either. Most of the people complaining on social media aren’t in this guys demo either, and there really is no “uproar” – you’re all just internet circle jerking each other in an attempt to make yourselves appear better than the guy.

    Let the kids at Summer Rush have their fun.


    July 13, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    • You could be right, David. Maybe the teens going to this show don’t care that he beat his girlfriend.

      That’s the problem. They should care. They should be reminded why they should care. Accepting abuse as something that happens, something that can be ignored, is exactly the problem.


      July 13, 2013 at 4:56 pm

      • I would like to say this first and foremost – I do not in any way support abuse against women.
        Having that out of the way, justice had Chris Brown pay for his crime, he accepted that punishment and has come out on the other side remorseful – as he puts out to the media, anyway. Regardless, it is in his past. If we were all judged for our crimes, however small, however large, for the rest of our lives, we would never be able to overcome our own demons. Society would stamp the label on our foreheads and we would go through life forever under the weight of our past mistakes. We would stay forever burdened by, and forever typecast as whoever we were when we committed the mistake. We would never be able to grow, to become better, under the weight of judgement. Let the past be the past, and let him continue on his quest to prove to the world that he has grown, that he has changed and that he is a better person.


        July 14, 2013 at 3:24 am

      • Thanks for your comment, Jill. That’s a well-reasoned, persuasive point.


        July 14, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    • A note to posters like David: I will absolutely approve your comments if they disagree with my opinion, but there’s no need to resort to sexist insults. If you post hateful or derogatory words, I will edit them out.


      July 13, 2013 at 6:56 pm

      • Hilary, I didn’t call you a “sexist expletive”. I said that it was my opinion that you were acting like a bit of a ____. ____ could be substituted for “dick”, “brat”, or whatever. It wasn’t intended to insult you personally.


        July 14, 2013 at 5:47 pm

      • I respect your opinion and your right to express it, David, but the word you chose was sexist. I’m glad you didn’t mean it personally, though it certainly came off that way. For context, you’re not alone: Twitter users called two local female reporters “simple bitch” and “banana peel built bitch” after they tweeted about the Chris Brown story. Sexist words like these simply aren’t OK. I hope you’ll choose your words more carefully in the future.


        July 14, 2013 at 7:52 pm

  2. I agree with Hilary Beaumont’s strong message that although Chris Brown may be a talented, individual, that his talent should not be celebrated. Unfortunately, society places a high value on talented people and their perceptions of self worth becomes extremely inflated to the point where they believe that they are somewhat above everyone else and have the right to do as they please. Unfortunately, bad boys will always attract the girls. Wake up girlsI(especially Rihanna), there are plenty of nice guys out there that are extremely cool. Trust me, I was lucky enough to wake up and marry one of the good ones!


    July 13, 2013 at 7:58 pm

  3. As a victim of relationship assualt and sexual abuse as a teen boy, I share the opinion that this is a “hollywood” allegatioin. The dude is coming to Halifax to play some music and entertain some people. Who are we to judge?


    July 14, 2013 at 12:42 am

    • I’m sorry to hear about your experience, Tim. I hope that we can find a solution to sexual violence. Thanks for your comment.


      July 14, 2013 at 2:22 pm

  4. I’m kinda confused on your point Hilary, do you want to educate the young adults about violence, and sexual assault? Or making Chris Brown your campaigne for your point? I agree with you that we need you educate our young adults both male and female. But clouding their minds with your personal opinion on how you feel about a certain incident send the wrong message of what you want them to learn. Education should be education, not your personal opinion….

    Franky Lopez

    July 14, 2013 at 12:49 am

    • Thanks for your comment, Franky. The best answer I have for you is that this is intended as an opinion piece, not an educational piece. I’ve written educational pieces/features about harassment and sexual assault in Halifax (linked above), but the goal of this piece is to offer an argument.


      July 14, 2013 at 1:57 am

      • I just feel that all these organizations that are stripping him down, that have missions to educate and help individuals in situations of domestic violence or sexual assault would have a bigger effect also educating those that committed. And especially ones who are celebrities to show on a broader spam that their organizations are effective and operating within their mission. I see so many of these organization so invested in breaking an individual down as oppose to helping them. And even though many would think well why help the offender. But in such situations wouldn’t demolishing those crimes be the bigger factor??? I don’t know I just don’t see it as such a deal with him performing in Halifax or further more anywhere. I would rather see one or some of these organizations reach out to him and use him as an extension to show these young individuals all these women are protecting to educate them. I just feel that we can resolve positive with positive, and with all this negative here we are talking about the same thing 4 years later.

        Oh and as for the individual that posted Chris Brown the most famous woman beater needs to do her research because that’s actually a western music artist…

        Thank for allowing me to express my opinion.

        Franky Lopez

        July 14, 2013 at 6:38 am

  5. Are you serious with this piece? It’s delusional, hypocritical and illogical. It doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. Zero. None. I’m sure if Ozzy, Axl, Dr. Dre or even Jay-Z(Stabbed a man, shot his own brother and sold drugs) were taking the stage, you people would not give a rat’s ass. Chris Brown is an artist. His personal life is not on stage. Rihanna has moved on. Chris Brown doesn’t even have a history.


    July 14, 2013 at 6:37 am

  6. I get that chris beat rihanna and it was years ago and it really wasnt anyonees business in the first place. And just becauae of that he shouldnt not be allowed to play at alderney landing, hes a performer thats what he does so let him do it. There are ALOT of people who actually want to see him and enjoy him perform and by causing such a uproar could lead to him not coming and let many ppl down. Many big celeberities dont come here in the first place, and now youre trying to get one not to come? You do realize if he doesnt tons of ppl will be dissapointed, thats being really selfish because ovbiously everyone protesting against him isnt thinking about anyone else. Dont speak for all of halifax, speak for yourself


    July 14, 2013 at 12:08 pm

  7. It’s hard to believe Chris Brown could find a sponsor in Halifax. Energy 103.5 just showed they’ll put money over morals and they really don’t give a damn about violence against women. Disgraceful and disappointing.

    Glen Canning

    July 14, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    • Thanks for your comment, Glen. Good to hear you in this conversation.


      July 14, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    • This concert has nothing to do with violence against women. I think some of you saying it does need to take a step back from all of this nonsense and think about what you’re saying, and consider if you’d apply this same “outrage” to other artists who may/have performed here. The idea that Energy 103 doesn’t care about violence against women is ridiculous. Chris Brown is apparently a popular artist among their demographic, which would be why they chose him to perform at a concert they’re sponsoring.

      Do you also consider MuchMusic to be ignorant to the topic? A quick search of their site shows upteen videos of the guy, and most of them are recent. Is MuchMusic condoning violence against women by playing this guys video?

      What about Justin Bieber? It looks like he collaborated on a song with Chris Brown. Does that mean Justin Bieber condones violence against women, by association? Would those complaining about Chris Brown performing, also complain if it was Jusin Bieber was performing?

      I don’t like either artist, but I’m not their target audience. It doesn’t affect me either way if Chris Brown performs, but I think it’s really disappointing to see the way a group of adults are trying to force their morals on others. It’s as if the goal is to tell the kids wanting to see him that “Chris Brown didn’t get to perform because he hit a woman, and that is wrong.” Of course it’s wrong, but I don’t think that’s an appropriate way to force the message on people – especially kids who may have waited years to see one of their favourite artists come perform in our small city. Have some of you forgotten what it’s like to be a teenager? I feel really bad for the fans of his who might not get to see him perform because of a bunch of busy bodies.


      July 14, 2013 at 5:34 pm

  8. I should start by saying that I will not be attending the Chris Brown concert. I know nothing of him apart from the facts that he abused his partner and that I dislike his music. Anyway, here are three reasons why I think not attending/telling others to not attend his concert is ineffective and inappropriate.

    (1) We assign far too much moral responsibility to celebrities. Celebrities are not aged philosophers, trained in morality and ethics, nor do they have an incentive to behave in socially acceptable ways. Often, they have an incentive to behave in morally repugnant ways (did anyone even know who Chris Brown was before he abused his spouse?) Celebrities are typically young, immature and have massive quantities of income with which to behave in immature and inappropriate ways. Many are simply carrying out the behaviours they learned while young, and are likely misinformed about the consequences of their actions. So, I don’t think we should set our expectations for young and rich celebrities so highly. They are entertainers, nothing more. If we believe that entertainers are meant to entertain, not instruct, then there is no reason for society to prevent morally inept entertainers from carrying out their work.

    (2) Positive instruction trumps negative instruction. Using Chris Brown’s past failures as a tool of instruction may be ineffective in preventing subsequent abuse. Although casting him in a negative light may “scare” would be abusers into not abusing, it also negatively labels past abusers, effectively holding them down and preventing self-growth. Abusers like Chris Brown may resign themselves to a life of social exclusion and thus fail to see the value in self-reformation. A more positive-oriented strategy would be to put well-known male feminists on a pedestal rather than permanently vilify a celebrity spouse abuser. Positive instruction pushes potential abusers down a non-abusive path and also opens the door to self-reformation.

    (3) One of the objectives of feminism (or virtually all of the ‘isms) is to convert non-believers. We want non-feminists to become feminists and behave in ways that promote the equality of women. Yet, negatively shaming, or even revolting, against Chris Brown may simply enrage and mobilize his supporters. Although this blog is not particularly confrontational, I have observed the enraged confrontation on the feminist side of this debate. This is not helping matters. Rather than helping, it is making current Chris Brown supporters over-zealous and increasingly vocal about attending his upcoming concert. So, if anything, I would encourage a far more reasoned and contained argument for why Chris Brown event may not be appropriate for Halifax.


    July 15, 2013 at 1:56 pm

  9. Where does this crusade end? Should we have boycotted the Rolling Stones (or any number of bands for that matter) because they send the message that it’s okay to do copious amounts of heroin, as well as have unprotected sex with multiple partners, some of who were underage?

    Motley Crue played in Halifax a few years ago. Did you know that their lead singer drove drunk and killed his passenger? To think that we all let them get away with walking on stage, thereby condoning impaired driving and manslaughter is appalling. For shame! Remember when Tom Petty chain smoked through his whole set at the Metro Centre? How dare he show us that it is okay to do that given the amount of evidence modern science has gathered to suggest that tobacco will take off years of your life!

    I saw Dr. John at the Jazz fest last week. Did you know that he ran a whorehouse, sold drugs, was involved in multiple shootouts with police (which he eventually went to federal prison for), and my personal favourite, ran an illegal abortion clinic! He’s not a real doctor and has no qualifications to be doing such procedures. Perhaps you should have boycotted him. After all, by your logic, his mere compensation for sitting at a piano on a stage in Halifax sends a message that it is okay to shoot at police officers, give illegal abortions, and whore out young women.


    July 19, 2013 at 9:14 am

    • Great point, Ryan. You’ve raised an important question: If we don’t welcome artists who express violence, where does it end? What art will we consume? Violence is deeply ingrained in our culture, and I think that’s the real problem here.

      Just one correction to your point, though: I didn’t call for a boycott. I said we shouldn’t welcome Chris Brown, which is like saying, “I don’t want that douchebag at my party, but I won’t stop them from attending.”


      July 19, 2013 at 5:56 pm

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