Sunday, The Sunday Times, 7th February 2010

Police to vet Nadur carnival song lyrics
Christian Peregin

A man dressed up as Jesus Christ during last year’s Nadur carnival.
Rock bands booked to perform during the Nadur Carnival have been asked to submit their planned ‘repertoire’ to the local council and police in an attempt to eradicate offensive or vulgar lyrics.

The Sunday Times was alerted by a concerned band member who said the council was requesting to vet lyrics before the event. The Nadur Carnival, which kicks off on Friday, has made its name on spontaneity.

“It doesn’t make much of a difference to my band because we sing cover versions, so if there’s anything contentious about our lyrics they might as well ban the radio stations,” said the band member, who preferred to remain anonymous.

But what annoyed him was the very notion of having music scrutinised before a performance.

“Are we now going to start censoring music now too?” he asked.

When contacted, Nadur mayor Miriam Portelli said the police made the suggestion to vet the lyrics so she did not know the reasons behind it.

She was not even sure if bands had to submit a description of the type of music they would be playing or if it was the full list of songs and lyrics.

However, she said this was the first time such a demand had been made.

A police inspector involved in the event’s organisation confirmed that the police were attempting to stamp out “offensive” or “vulgar” language, so unless the songs were well-known they wanted to vet the lyrics.

“If it’s Stairway to Heaven we don’t need the lyrics because we all know the song. But what we want to avoid is language that could make people upset or start a fight,” he said.

The Nadur carnival traditionally attracts thousands of people to Gozo for the five-day festivities, creating a series of management problems.

Last year, controversy arose when some revellers dressed up as Jesus Christ and nuns.

Amid condemnation from the bishops, the revellers ended up in court for choosing costumes deemed to be illegal and offensive to the Roman Catholic religion.

Last week, the mayor explained that police presence would this year be stepped up to ensure public morals were respected, traffic was well managed and glass bottles were banned from the streets.

In the past weeks, the council held a series of meetings with police to try to minimise the usual problems of traffic congestion and the odd squabble. However, a group was set up on Facebook last year with a page entitled ‘Friends of Jesus: Nadur 2010’ which said it was organising a “peaceful protest against a modern-day inquisition”.

The group hopes to encourage hundreds of people to dress up as Jesus in an attempt to overwhelm any fear of retribution “by numbers”.

It was sparked by the decision to hand down a one-month suspended jail term to a 26-year-old man who pleaded guilty to dressing up as Jesus.

cperegin@timesofmalta.com

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