Is it possible to separate your feelings about someone’s music, art or ideas from your respect for their individual right to practice or otherwise engage in these things?
To healthy and reasonable people, the answer is yes. If you’re the mayor of Chicago — not so much.
According to (UK’s) theguardian.com, police shut down a rap show on Saturday while the star was appearing – by electronic hologram – to appeal for an end to violence in hip-hop.
Police in Hammond, Indiana, pulled the plug on Craze Fest while Chief Keef was beaming in his set from a soundstage in Los Angeles. He was just finishing I Don’t Like, and talking about the need to stop violence, when music was turned down, the hologram disappeared and police cleared the stage.
The show, held in a public park and attended by 2,000 people, was planned as a benefit for Chief Keef’s friend Marvin Carr – a rapper known as Capo – and 13-month-old Dillan Harris, who [was] killed on 11 July. Dillan was killed by a vehicle fleeing the scene of a shooting that killed Carr.
Fans at the show told the Chicago Tribune that it had passed without incident before police intervened. “There was no violence. It was the police who did this,” Stefanae Coleman, 17, told the paper. “Everyone was happy … We went through the whole show without any problems. They just waited for Chief Keef, and that’s what irks me. (The police) do this, then they get mad that we’re mad. It’s disrespectful to us.” [theguardian.com 7/27/15]
These days, many people blame the police for everything. But police are merely following orders, in most cases.
Whose orders? In this case, it started with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Emanuel called the silenced rapper, Chief Keef, “an unacceptable role model” who “promoted violence” and whose presence, even via hologram, “posed a significant safety risk.”
The police chief of Hammond’s excuse was that the rapper had been told not to perform, and when he went ahead with the holographic show, this was their cue to shut him down.
This may or may not have been a valid conclusion on the part of the police. My question is: Why are elected officials now in charge of deciding what music people may or may not hear? Why do they even influence such decisions?
So long as the music is not performed on government property (e.g., a courthouse, a military base), or with government or tax funds, the government should not be concerned with musical content, at all.
I’m the last person to champion gangster rap music, or anything like that, as a form of art. I have no opinion about Chief Keef, because I have never heard his performances, and have no interest in them. What little I know makes me totally unmotivated to listen to him.
Chief Keef, according NewYorkTimes.com on 7-26-15, “has rapped in the past about his gang affiliations, was previously sentenced to home confinement as a juvenile for pointing a gun at a police officer, and later served time in jail for violating his probation in that case.” I understand why some might loathe him. But again: What does this have to do with the right of people to listen to his performance without government intervention?
What troubles me most is that mayors of large cities now feel comfortable deciding what type of music constitutes an “acceptable role model,” and what does not. What will be next? Books? Websites? Works of art? If these are deemed improper role models, will the police show up when you read or view them?
We’re talking here about music performed on private property, at private expense, and with the willing participation of everyone involved.
We certainly want and need police to keep the peace. However, keeping the peace does not mean deciding ahead of time which type of music will lead to rioting, and which will not. This is crazy.
We wonder why police seem to be acting more questionably, if not irrationally. The fish rots from the head down. The police answer to the mayors, governors and attorneys general who employ them. When these officials start thinking, acting and speaking like dictators, then the police will eventually follow.
There’s no such thing as a “little bit” of dictatorship. Most Americans do not seem to grasp this. It’s why we’re losing our freedom and liberty, piece by piece, year by year.
One day you might wake up and all of your freedom will be gone. Refer back to some of my columns when or if that ever happens, and maybe then you’ll better understand what I’m saying.
Oops, I forgot … You won’t be able to read them.
Dr Michael Hurd
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