A society with no standards

Posted: Jul 20, 2004 12:00 AM

Currently sitting at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 list is a rap rendition called "Confessions, Part II" by rap star Usher. Mixed into the recording are lyrics by another rapper, Joe Budden, in which he talks about his frustration with a woman's refusal to abort his baby.

Here are his words of wisdom:

"Pray that she abort that, If she's talkin' 'bout keeping it/ One hit to the stomach, She's leakin' it"

If she won't listen to reason and abort, punch her in the stomach.

Pro-life organizations, including Care Net, on whose board I sit, have protested this sickening, depraved and demented message. Island/Def, Usher's label, and LaFace/Zomba, Budden's label, of course, have declined comment. However, Mr. Budden himself was kind enough to comment and share his impeccable logic about the reasonableness of his approach on this matter.

"When you get somebody pregnant, you can make some suggestions, but the bottom line is they (women) have the end say-so ... as a guy you wonder, 'What can I do to take that power away'....I might stir up a lot of confusion, but if you don't like it, turn it off."

Let's keep in mind that American kids, a good portion of whom are middle class white kids, now shell out a few billion dollars a year to buy and listen to this garbage. So the rappers have a point that, hey, they're just serving up what the market wants.

Given the power of the marketplace and the protections of the First Amendment, it appears that there is not much to do here but, as Budden suggests, turn it off if you don't want to hear it.

Several years ago rap impresario Russell Simmons, in response to growing outrage about rap music, organized a Hip Hop summit in New York City. Rappers came, as did many black leaders, including Kweise Mfume, Louis Farrakhan and members of the Congressional Black Caucus. When it was over, president of the Hip-Hop Action Network, Benjamin Muhammed, summed it all up saying, "We are taking back responsibility." Russell Simmons himself followed up saying, "Taking responsibility for the uplift of the poor and those who are underprivileged is more than just a noble goal, it makes good business sense."

So much for any illusions that rappers would be seized by a noble sense of social responsibility, put aside the prodigious financial rewards they get from peddling depravity and start rapping about love and marriage.

Is our only challenge now to just guess how deep the cesspool can get?

I've been writing a lot about Bill Cosby's recent provocative remarks challenging poor blacks to take personal responsibility. Cosby said, "For me there is a time ... when we have to turn the mirror around ..."

Perhaps all Americans should listen to Cosby and think about turning the mirror around.

When rapper Joe Budden talks about his frustration with the power that the woman has to determine whether or not to abort, we should ask, "Who gave her this power over life and death?"

The answer in our secular society is the U.S. Supreme Court.

When the Supreme Court ruled in 1973 that abortion is a private matter, that there is no public standard relevant to the question of a woman destroying her own fetus, they officially cut the umbilical, so to speak, that connected the private individual to any prevailing moral or social standards associated with the consequences of sexual behavior.

It removed any residual sense that, as a society, we see any sacred component to sexual behavior or its natural consequences.

There was a time when our sense of the sacred defined the framework through which we related to life and death. Now that the sacred has been banished from our public life, we leave these matters to the whim of any child from any broken home.

Today seven of 10 black babies are born to unwed mothers. Those seven babies will, in all likelihood, grow up in an environment where, whether they look at home, in their neighborhood, on the TV they watch, in the music they hear, or to those who set the laws of our land, the message they'll get is whatever they feel like doing is OK. If a young woman wants to sleep around, that's up to her. And if she wants to abort the result of her liaison, also her call.

No wonder Joe Budden is so frustrated. If it doesn't make any difference if she gives in to his desires, if they are both equally not responsible, so why shouldn't they both be equally not responsible, or responsible, for what to do with the pregnancy?

How can we call Joe Budden anti-social in a society with no social standards?