When my daughter, Jennifer, and son Lee were young, Jennifer came running in to the living room one day, rubbing her head and wailing, “Dad, Lee hit me back first.” Without realizing it, she had just told the whole story. She had hit him. He hit back and she tried to change the balance of power by painting herself as the victim. The last two weeks or so have seemed like that in the national news. Hip Hop and Rap artists have for a long time been using atrocious language to portray and promote a gangster lifestyle which has detrimentally influenced culture. I was reminded of how pervasive this is when I opened the Chicago Tribune yesterday to see a headline in the business section; “Pimp my Wienermobile.” The term derives from ghetto culture concerning how “Pimps,” those who engage in running prostitution, outfit their cars. The pimp lifestyle seems to be promoted by Rap “artists” as something to be emulated, as reflected by the now popular phrases “pimps out their ride” and wearing “bling.” In this rampant subculture, women are routinely slandered as “Hos,” but rarely is this gross insult against women condemned by civil rights activists or anyone else.
I don’t listen to “shock jocks,” mostly because they say things over the airwaves which I would find to be, well, shocking – and rude and immoral and highly inappropriate, so imagine my surprise when Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton cried foul last week over shock jock Don Imus using rap terms to describe the women’s basketball team from Rutgers. It was like they were saying “Don Imus hit us back first.” Practicing moral turpitude is the stock and trade of shock jocks but the descriptors Imus used were coined within the African-American community. Although nasty and vile, I am sure there was nothing there that the good Reverends Jackson and Sharpton had not heard before, blasting forth from car stereos both “in the hood” and in suburbia, but had not lifted a finger to put a stop to. In addition, Jackson and Sharpton have themselves used racist and bigoted language to describe others. Jackson for example, referred to New York as Hymietown and when that remark was made public, he simply offered a tepid apology and moved on in his illustrious career of condemning the sins of other racists. He lost nothing, certainly not his standing with a fawning media. Sharpton is far worse, what with the Tawana Browley affair, where innocent police officers whose careers and lives were ruined by a baseless charge of rape. Sharpton, to the best of my knowledge, did not even apologize for his large role in this fiasco. None of this is meant to excuse Don Imus, because there is no excuse for the likes of Imus, but then again, I don’t listen to shock jocks because what the say is shocking.
Rap artist Snoop Dog was interviewed as more public attention was brought to bear on this lowlife segment of the “entertainment industry” and he made clear that he would not stop using these terms because these things come from his soul. WiIl Jackson and Sharpton picket to have Snoop Dog and other Rappers fired? Well, no. As Jackson tells it, it isn’t the “artist’s” fault – the fault lies with the white guys who own the record labels that these “artists” work for. I wonder, does that mean that Snoop Dog was just reading from some white master’s script when he contends that he has the right to artistic freedom? Yeah, that’s probably it. It is just someone else’s fault.
As this was wrapping up and Don Imus had been fired, the terrible mass shooting took place at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia on Monday. 33 died (including the shooter) and 15 were wounded. Very nearly the first questions asked were “whose fault was this?” The obvious answer to me is that it was primarily the shooter, Cho Seung-Hui, who is to blame for the vicious attack. But that would be too simple. Instead, it must be the fault of society. It is our too liberal gun laws or perhaps the fault of teachers and administers who recognized a problem with Cho but failed to prevent him from committing a crime. Or it was the failure to lock down the university soon enough after the first shooting in the dorm. All of these things look great and obvious in hindsight, but can you imagine the howling of liberal activists if Cho’s civil rights had been violated by profiling him as a psychopath, and actually deterring him from acting on his dark thoughts. They would have had to lock him up before he had done anything wrong! All of these and more are being voiced in WORLD REACTS TO VIRGINIA TECH SHOOTINGS . We could keep adding to this list, and as the days and weeks roll on, they will I am sure. Even as I type this, we discover that Cho Seung-Hui stopped between shootings to mail a package to NBC in which he rails against rich people. So, most likely, when all is said and done, the consensus will be that Cho Seung-Hui is not in any way at fault. The system “failed him.” Like the Rap and Hip Hop artists, he will turn out to be a hapless stooge that was let down by “the system” and manipulated by rich white men. Cho Seung-Hui will be just another victim – the fault of the nebulous “them” out there somewhere.
Not to diminish the grief of the families who have lost loved ones, who probably never worried that their kids (or spouses) in a supposedly “safe” college environment would be shot by another student. The parents of Cho Seung-Hui must also be devastated. Not only do they have to deal with the loss of their son at his own hand, but will also be plagued with the question “How could our son do such a terrible thing?” And being the parents of the murderer, they most likely will have to grieve alone. All of these people need our prayers.
Who is to blame? The unfortunate answer is that “the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” (Genesis 8:21). We are all sinners. The effects of our individual sin impacts culture in a variety of ways to inflict hurt and damage upon those around us. It is easy to point our fingers at others, for it diverts attention from our own sin. James 2:10-11 shows that even though we sin in different ways, popular “artists,” record company moguls, race hustlers, gangsters, pimps, rich people, basketball players, and all the rest of us will face the judgment of God someday. And, we won’t be able to point fingers of blame at everyone else. How can we escape the punishment we so richly deserve? The Apostle Paul struggled with the same question. In Romans 7:24-25 he wrote:
“Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Christ Jesus our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh, the law of sin.”
If we call on Jesus Christ as God, believing in His death, burial and physical resurrection we shall be saved from the eternal consequences of our sin.