The Student News Site of Northern Michigan University

The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

Meet the Staff
The North Wind Editorial Sessions
About us

The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

TIMES ARE CHANGING — FAFSA announced changes to its filing system in February.
Editorial — The "better" FAFSA
North Wind Editorial BoardFebruary 27, 2024

Eliminate the double standard

Many students probably heard about the Don Imus case no less than 500 times in the last few weeks from various news sources. After being fired April 12 from his weekday morning radio show for calling the Rutgers women’s basketball team “nappy-headed hos,” everyone, including Imus, probably expected the case to slide into history, quickly forgotten until someone else makes a racial slur in the media.

Regardless, there’s a silver lining to this intolerant cloud. Many critics of Imus’s firing referenced rap lyrics that were much more insulting than Imus’s gaffe. In fact, this was his main point when he attempted to defend himself. What Imus did was wrong — but our culture celebrates this language in rap lyrics, which are just as offensive.

Consequently, hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons called a summit meeting April 18 with other hip-hop music executives to discuss offensive rap lyrics. Attendees included L.A. Reid, chairman of Island Def Jam Music Group; Sylvia Rhone, president of Motown Records and executive vice president of Universal Music Group; Lyor Cohen, chairman and chief executive of U.S. music at Warner Music Group; Mitch Bainwol, chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America; and rapper T.I.

It’s ironic that T.I. was invited, since his Grammy-nominated single, “What You Know?” contains lyrics such as “I be on dro I’m buzzed/Give every ho a hug/Niggaz don’t show me mugs.” L.A. Reid’s label, Island Def Jam, is chock-full of artists who use abusive language such as Nas and Ludacris. Rap music has used this kind of language for years, and it’s periodically blamed for various verbal faux pas, but nothing is ever done about it. Remember the uproar when Michael Richards used the n-word onstage last year? It ruined his career, but rappers get away with it every day on the airwaves.

Story continues below advertisement

While some make the argument that black people can use this kind of language, while whites cannot, the debate is absurd. I doubt black women appreciate being called “hos” regardless of the speaker’s color. There are better ways to celebrate our differences than categorizing who can call whom what epithet.

It’s no surprise rap music is full of racial epithets. It supposedly sells albums. However, either no one should be able to say them, or everyone should be able to. It’s categorically unfair that Imus is fired when recording artists spew worse over the airwaves daily.

Turn on the radio anywhere — go to any club in Marquette, even — and you’ll hear a song that objectifies women in some way. Northern even paid for Ludacris to perform a few years ago. The same Ludacris who spouts colorful language like “You’s a ho. You’s a ho. I said that you’s a ho.” While this music has clearly been accepted into the mainstream, America cannot be desensitized to distasteful language used everyday by rappers and be suddenly hypersensitive in other instances. It may be bleeped out on MTV and the radio, but let’s get real — everyone knows what they’re saying.

Simmons warned against limiting rappers’ free-speech rights on the Oprah Winfrey Show (you know it’s a problem when Oprah gets involved). “When they write a song, and they write it from their heart, and they’re not educated, and they don’t believe there’s opportunity, they…have a right to say what’s on their mind,” he said. What Simmons doesn’t seem to realize is that these artists are probably no longer living in these conditions. They’ve made the money — they can seek education. Clearly, there’s opportunity — otherwise they’d still be muttering on a street corner. Free speech is an unalienable right, but when it comes at the expense of others, not only does it show disrespect for them and yourself, you look like a fool. Free speech is not protected by the Constitution when it’s labeled an obscenity. If we give the free speech excuse to rappers, we may as well give it to Imus.

I’m not saying Imus shouldn’t have been fired; hopefully, it was a step in the right direction. We, as a society, need to decide where intolerance begins and eliminate it. After all, we wouldn’t want our mothers called “bitches” and “hos.”

More to Discover