Just the other day, the Hip Hop Summit Action Network, led by Russell Simmons and Benjamin Chavis came out and urged the industry to ban the use of "nigga, bitch and ho" from all so-called clean versions of rap songs . . .
"Our discussions are about the corporate responsibility of the industry to voluntarily show respect to African Americans and other people of color, African American women and to all women in lyrics and images."
Ah . . . yeah . . . right . . .
I'm sort of inclined to agree with Joan Morgan, the author of "When Chickenheads Come Home To Roost." She said the recommendations were, "shortsighted at best and disingenuous at worst." Really, it does still sound very much like yet another royal passing of the buck. Cha-ching! I guess some of us still don't want to own up to being complicit in our own degradation . . . "Can I get a, What?! What?!" (smile) Yeah, I said it. Meant it too.
Even though Simmons and Chavis merely SUGGESTED that the industry VOLUNTARILY show a bit of respect toward the folks they ritualistically and habitually demean and malign and with such zeal, a lot of folks are outraged. They look at the REQUEST as a giant step toward CENSORSHIP and a violation of FREE-SPEECH. "If you don't like it, don't listen to it," they say. "If you don't want your children to hear it, turn off the radio. Do a better job of monitoring what your children buy and watch on TV." Yup, that's what they say, all right.
Hmm . . . Well, couldn't that very same logic have been applied to Imus? Or Richards? Or any other nutcase or fool who opens his mouth and barfs up hate? How come it's okay to wanna shut up and shut down folks, that aren't too many of US listening to anyway, but it's somehow NOT OKAY to ask the brother from around the way, the one who looks like you or who could very well be your son, sibling, uncle, nephew, cousin or spouse . . . how come it's not okay to POLITELY ask that brother to refrain from the constant use of the very same words?
How come we really think it's okay for us to wanna have it both ways? Hate speech is hate speech, isn't it? Or is SOME hate really more excusable . . . permissible . . . or perhaps, simply more lucrative than some other?
I think it's ironic, if not incredibly revealing how so many of the folks, who in the aftermath of Michael Richard's public moment of insanity were all too willing and eager to place a universal ban on the use of the word, "nigger" (and all of its colorful variations) are now suddenly incensed at the thought of not being able to hear or spew--when, where and however they might please--a constant barrage of bitches and ho's.
I bet Dave Chappelle could put together one heck of a funny skit behind that particular brand of madness. Can't you picture it? Some blinged out, platinum grilled rapper, who's got two scantily clad women on choke-collars and dog leashes, crawling around at his feet. And the rapper, let's call him, MC Ignant Azz, is crying, rubbing his eyes and pleading, JB-style to some faceless, cigar-smoking fat cat figure who's sitting behind a desk, "Please, please, please Mr. Big Man, Suh, I done already give you my boy, 'Nigga.' Why you wanna go and take my gals, 'Bitch and Ho?' Oh, Lawd, Mr. Big Man, Suh, please just let me have, 'Bitch and Ho!" How else is I suppose to make my bens and my ends meet?!" Hmm . . . it's kinda got a nice antebellum-like ring to it, don'tcha think? (LOL)
For the record, I don't believe in censorship. Snatching books out of schools, pulling records/cds off shelves and setting bonfires to material deemed offensive, all seem kind of Nazi-like to me. I would never advocate an outright ban on the use of any word . . . not nigga, not bitch, not ho. Should we ban the word, "Fire" just because some idiot thinks it's funny to scream it in a movie theatre? But then again, if some idiot does scream "fire" in a theatre where there is none, I don't mind at all in assisting in putting his behind out.
As I've stated elsewhere, for some of us, the issue was never about censorship, it was and is about RESPECT. Yeah, remember that song, and the line, "R.e.s.p.e.c.t. find out what it means to me," that Aretha made famous, way back when? Yes, as much as some of y'all ain't trying to hear it, along with the freedom of expression comes something called responsibility . . . responsibility towards one's self and one's community.
Anyway, back to our skit . . .
"Respect and responsibility? Oh, Lawd, No, Mr. Big Man, Suh, what is I'm ever gone find to rhyme with that?"
Finally, Mr. Big Man, Suh stands and speaks, "Well, MC Ignant Azz, I guess we both gone have to find us something else to exploit."
The two of them, Mr. Big Man, Suh and MC Ignant Azz bump fists and pat each other on the back before walking off side-by-side into the sunset.