The Rev. Al Sharpton is the latest to declare war on the rap industry. The reverend intends to lay siege on the industry by first proposing a ban that would effectively silence any artist linked to violence by denying them airplay on television and radio for 90 days, and second, by becoming a stockholder in record companies in order to get his voice heard.The former manager of the sex machine himself – James Brown – has experience in the music industry, but why the attack now? Why just rap music? Unless Sharpton feels that the major issue in the 2008 presidential election will be violence in music, what is Sharpton trying to prove?Sadly, one of my favorite politicians ever – his comments always made the Democratic debates worth watching – has succumbed to attacking violence in music. Although Sharpton claims his views are not directed at or caused by any particular individual or group, his outcry comes on the heels of a shooting outside a New York radio station involving members of The Game’s and 50 Cent’s entourages.We have seen this before – violence erupts, people blame music. When the Columbine tragedy occurred, millions blamed Marilyn Manson’s lyrics. Other hate crimes, violence against women and increased homophobia were claimed to be caused by the words of Eminem.But there is a reason this debate continues whenever a violent act occurs and those committing the act are somehow linked to violent music. By blaming music, we are not getting at the real reasons that these crimes or violent acts are committed. We are misplacing the blame. By solely blaming music, it becomes the scapegoat. Left off the hook are the actual perpetrators themselves, whose psychological makeup led to their actions. Left off the hook are the parents who possibly let their children down. Left off the hook are the policy makers who have made it easier for anyone to get a gun in America.The fact of the matter is 50 Cent and other artists do not talk about violence or drugs off the cuff – most do so because it is what they know. Many of the individuals grew up in violence infested ghettos where crime, rape and drugs were rampant, but they are to blame for their own situation and not the government or politicians who turned a blind eye by cutting programs for the inner city poor.Let’s face it – violent music is not the single cause of violence. The fact is there are a number of reasons for violent acts in America, and simply blaming music is like blaming the foreclosure of a single bank for the Great Depression. So, Sharpton, if you would like to clean up violence in America, which is very admirable, there are many other places to put your focus. Cleaning up music won’t get rid of it all.Allard can be reached at dallard@campustimes.org.



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