Friday, August 03, 2007
From The New York Daily News…
The dragon slayers
State senators sharpen their knives to gut companies that support hip-hop thuggery
By Stanley Crouch
Hip-hop entertainers maintain the belief that it is all about the money. Before they put the microphone down they tell the public, over and over, that everything is determined by the power of money. Only fools could believe money ever takes second place. In their crude world of gold teeth, oversized jewelry, buffoon behavior and scowls, the entertainers of hip hop might be right; but New York State Sen. Antoine Thompson has ideas that could trouble the national waters of the hip-hop industry because he, too, believes it is all about the finances.
Bothered for years by what he heard coming from the recordings of these profane entertainers, Thompson joined with Senate Democratic Leader Malcolm Smith to ask some questions.
The senators wanted to know how much of New York State’s investment and pension funds went to the entertainment industry. The number is $3 billion. Well, well, well. This did not only disturb the legislators; Thompson told me it also greatly bothered the people in his district.
“When the people in my district discover,” he said, “that their tax and pension money goes to things in entertainment that they find appalling, they are shocked and disturbed. I think this raises a public issue of what the state should or should not do with its investment and pension funds. It should divest itself from companies that disseminate insulting and abusive material for the same reasons that so many universities, municipalities and companies divested themselves from business connections to South Africa during the apartheid days.”
While this is hot stuff, it is not a censorship issue, though we know it will be twisted into one by hip-hop defenders. Trotting out the censorship argument is but another of what has been a very limited repertoire of dodges used to obscure the issue.
The real issue is quite simple. No curtailment of free speech and individual expression is being suggested. Hip hop can offend whomever it pleases on its own dime, not the public’s. Thompson says that he and Smith want to see the same standard applied to entertainment that is applied to people in other situations, such as law enforcement and religion. That means no funds for any corporation presenting any “material that is hostile to a given ethnic group and to women.”
Thompson scoffs at those who claim such entertainment does not influence people. Far from a naive man, he knows that entertainment is also a form of advertisement, which is why Cadillac, Hennessy and McDonald’s fell over themselves when they discovered how sales of Escalades, cognac and fast food rose when celebrated in hip hop.
Yes, everyone seems to know that it is all about the money, but what Thompson and Smith know and intend to do should make them national heroes to all of us. Thompson now wants to meet with the 16 corporations that benefit from investment and pension funds. Hmmm. Another spear is being prepared for the hip-hop dragon. Long may it bleed.