Tuesday, July 28, 2015


In this Rolling Stones piece, contributor John Knefel asks if city officials in Hammond, Indiana and Chicago, Illionois are treating rapper Chief Keef like a terrorist. After the city of Hammond shut down a digital performance by the artist, they claimed that the rapper's lyrics and show posed a threat to the safety of the general public.

Using language more appropriate for terrorist threats, government officials are arguing that public safety is the issue here. Their rationale seems to be that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.

In Chicago the office of Mayor Rahm Emmanuel called off a Chief Keef concert, referring to Keef as "an unacceptable role model" whose music "promotes violence," which "posed a significant public safety risk" - even if he was not present but appearing in hologram form.

Without drawing any parallels to the messages, it's instructive to review Robert Kennedy's comments to the Sheriff and D.A. of Kern County (California) on how the First Amendment and the U.S. Constitution are supposed to work in America.

If we really want to do something about public safety I suggest we address the conditions that drive someone like Chief Keef to carve his message the way he does. Killing the messenger has never been a good idea, especially because of the threat it poses to America's First Amendment rights.

- Mark 

Addendum: In the FYI category, the Kennedy clip captures an iconic moment between Senator Robert F. Kennedy and Kern County Sheriff Roy F. Galyen in 1966. The exchange between Kennedy and Galyen focused attention on Kern County law enforcement in general, and Sheriff Galyen in specific, because they had a habit of arresting picketing farm workers organized by UFW co-founders Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, which I discuss here.

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