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Walking a path into lyric Hell page 2
The circumstances surrounding Baron Braswell's death, before and after the fact, deserve a close look

  Richard Amrhine's archive
  E-mail Richard Amrhine
Date published: 2/19/2006



So my knee-jerk reaction to the lyrics of a song such as "Knuck If You Buck," perhaps the last words Baron Braswell ever heard, is that while they may be disgusting, who am I to tell anyone what they can or cannot write, sing, or listen to? I wouldn't want anyone telling me what I'm allowed to write.

But then again, I think I'm able to both write provocatively and exercise some self-control at the same time. It seems at best childish and at worst malicious to offer for public consumption every lewd, disgusting, or violent thought that crosses one's mind. Why is it necessary to use foul language, glorify violence, and denigrate women? For bravado's sake? To test the shielding power of the First Amendment?

Consider this verse from the song "Knuck If You Buck," by Crime Mob:


Well I'm a gat totin' pistol holdin'

Nigga on yo damn street

Stompin jumpin bumpin

And get crunk off in this damn thang

Throwin dem bows up at dez hoes

They screamin they bleedin from they nose

But we start to swang we makin niggas hit the flo.'

So now I'm seriously thinking, maybe for the first time ever, that as a parent and as a member of a community, I can reconcile being selective about the speech I find acceptable. And I can say this without fear of hypocrisy, knowing that the hundreds of records from my youth that live in my basement contain countless references to sex and drugs--but not misogyny and murder.

With due respect to the letter-writer who argued that people kill people--not music, movies, or video games: If it were only that simple. Do we really know how every individual is affected by outside influences? Of course you punish the killer, but why is one person a killer and another not?

In the same vein, though, a waiting period and background check prior to the sale of certain CDs--and not just those rank gangsta rap ones--might not be such a bad idea.

Irresponsible speech needn't rise to the level of shouting "FIRE" in a crowded movie theater to exceed First Amendment protection. Indeed, how is that so different from pumping those lyrics into a crowded ballroom that includes a bunch of rowdy teenagers, at least one of whom is packing a knife?

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