November 07, 2003
Editorial: Strong rap on the knuckles

Editorial: Strong rap on the knuckles
(link to original)

From the Journal Sentinel

In this post-Columbine world, Brookfield Central High School authorities had no choice but to suspend Sashwat Singh for creating a rap CD with violent and offensive lyrics, in which Singh denigrates classmates, his mother and his high school, and apparently threatens his principal.

As Ken Cole, executive director of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, points out, schools can't afford to take lightly any threat, even one buried in lyrics and made outside school. It "isn't a matter of all in good sport or fun," Cole said. "If some incident occurs a month from now, someone will say, 'You knew back then.' We have to treat every incident very seriously."

Beyond that, authorities - from parents to schools to police - need to send the message that violence and obscenities are unacceptable, no matter how prevalent both are in popular culture. Too often, adults are willing to let that message slide, often in the interest of trying to "relate" to children. That's laudable, but sometimes kids just need to be told "no."

Thus, the suspension issued by the school seems entirely appropriate under the circumstances. It also seems to be sufficient, unless further investigation reveals more disturbing elements in this incident that would warrant expulsion.

Singh did not bring a gun to school or try to sell drugs. The junior is a member of the school's band and choir and is enrolled in Advanced Placement and honors courses.

What he did may have been no worse than what kids his age have been doing since time immemorial: being outrageous just to annoy adults and win the admiration of his peers. And while the lyrics he wrote are certainly disturbing, they are hardly more disturbing than the lyrics of award-winning rapper Eminem and other popular artists.

So if further investigation reveals that Singh's transgressions are limited to the CD, it would seem that he has paid his debt to society. Anything more would be overkill.

From the Nov. 8, 2003 editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

Posted by Lance Brown at November 7, 2003 04:55 PM | TrackBack
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