Critics have compared rapper Snoop Dogg to Don Imus. This made the Dogg mad:
“It’s a completely different scenario,” said Snoop, barking over the phone from a hotel room in L.A. “[Rappers] are not talking about no collegiate basketball girls who have made it to the next level in education and sports. We’re talking about ho’s that’s in the ‘hood that ain’t doing sh–, that’s trying to get a n—a for his money. These are two separate things. First of all, we ain’t no old-ass white men that sit up on MSNBC [the cable network home to Imus] going hard on black girls. We are rappers that have these songs coming from our minds and our souls that are relevant to what we feel. I will not let them mutha—–as say we in the same league as him.”
Personally I don’t give a rats ass who says what. I am a rabid believer in freedom. Imas saying what he did (as racist as it was) is no worse for our country than the ramblings of Pat Robertson or Ann Coulter, on strictly Utilitarian grounds. But, Snoop has a point.
The key difference as I see it (to take Snoop’s argument farther than he did) is that art is something separate from the Shock-Jock radio programming that Imus, and Howard Stern do.
All art (that is any good) has a tendency to express things, not as they should be, but as they are. I don’t mean realism, I mean that it brings out in the audiance member or the viewer an authentic emotional experience.
Snoop is particularly good presenting to his audience work with an honest flavor, and it’s one of the reasons he has such staying power. Certainly there are plenty of crappy rappers who make bad art, just as there are in all fields of art (just go to a poetry reading to see what I mean). But, that is no reason to advocate defacto censorship. In-spite of what the Republican white media says about the Dogg’s lyrics, they are not PRIMARILY sexist in nature. Unlike Righties such as Michelle Malkin, I grew up listening to the guy on a regular basis, and actually know his work. It isn’t fundamentally sexist. It’s fundamentally art.
(I realize that many white people would not agree with calling ANY rap music art. I have always found this to be a kind of subtle racism, as they have no problem calling ACDC art, or Lynyrd Skynyrd, or any other ridiculous, empty, rock band that comes along. The fact is they are biased against black music in general, as any cursory examination of their CD collection would show, and rap makes an easy target.)
But, the concern here among the public is not about what is and what is not art. It’s about whether obscenities coming out of the mouths of one group of people are valued as worse than those from the mouths of another group. I think the facts are clear: If the words are the same, but the response in the victim is higher in one case over another … then clearly the value of the hate speech is worse when coming from the first group. AKA, Snoop Dogg is right to be offended as a Black man being compared to a white man, even if they say the same things.
In principle, in an Ideal world, this fact wouldn’t be true. But, in an ideal world, there would be no hate speech, because there would be no hate. This is the real world. And a Black guy saying “nappy headed ho” is far different than a white dude saying, “nappy headed ho”.
(Photo by David Stroud)