November 13, 2003
Charlie Sykes: Hypersensitivity & hypocrisy

Hypersensitivity & hypocrisy
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Nov 13 2003
By Charlie Sykes

WARNING: Hide this column from your kids.

You've read about the 15-year-old Brookfield Central student who got suspended for writing an insulting rap song, but before we get all grown up and indignant, I'd like to remind you of something we used to sing on the school bus:

(To the tune of "Battle Hymn of the Republic")

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the burning of the school,

We have tortured every teacher,

We have broken every rule.

We have bound and gagged the principal

And tossed him in the pool

The school is burning down.

Granted this was all pre-Columbine, but it was pretty graphic stuff. Especially the chorus:

Glory, glory, what's it to ya?

Teacher hit me with a ruler,

I hid behind the door with a loaded .44,

And she ain't gonna teach no more no more.

These days, if a busload of kids sang that song, they'd be surrounded by a SWAT team. Violence! Guns! Threats! Expulsions! News at 10!

Of course, we didn't actually mean any of those things we were singing about.

Nobody tied up the principal and tossed him in the pool. Nobody burned down the school. And everybody understood that.

But we were different than kids today. Right? Because when they sing songs about violent things, they might actually be planning mass killings. Or not.

Maybe, just maybe, they are just singing songs. A lot like we did.

What's different now is that a lot of grownups have a hard time telling the difference.

In Brookfield, Sashwat Singh rapped that if the principal didn't get out of town, Singh would "beat (his) ass down." That was enough to get him suspended for five days for "gross disobedience or misconduct," an offense equivalent to arson, making a bomb threat or bringing a gun to school.

Police even followed him home and confiscated his computer.

Nobody, however, seems to think he poses any kind of a threat to anybody. He insists he was just making a rap CD with words that rhymed.

It was apparently nasty stuff, and he probably should be made to serve detention and write letters of apology. But his CD was hardly as nasty as the lyrics teenagers in places like Brookfield listen to hour after hour, without either comment or alarm from the adultocracy.

How many parents really have any clue what their kids are listening to? The lyrics about "bitches and hos." The obscenity-laced paeans to thug culture, cop killing, drugs and rape.

How many care? We're part of a generation that's afraid to say "no" to our kids, because we don't want to be too judgmental, too much like our own fuddy-duddy parents.

So we hide behind zero tolerance.

Here's the irony: Adults can't bring themselves to condemn the violent lyrics of rap culture, but we can come down with all of our post-Columbine bureaucratic wrath when a child tries to imitate them.

Some role models we are.

Charlie Sykes is a WTMJ radio personality, author and journalist. Contact him at

(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 13, 2003 05:24 PM | TrackBack
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