America's Slide Into The Sewer

I regret the offensiveness of what follows. However, it is high time adult readers sample the words that millions of young Americans are hearing.

Which words are lyrics, which are testimony?

In a Manhattan courtroom testimony continues in the trial of young men accused of gang rape and other sadistic violence against the Central Park jogger in last April's "wilding" episode. "We charged her and we got her on the ground. Everybody started hitting her and stuff, and she's on the ground and everybody's stomping and everything . . . I grabbed one arm, and this other kid grabbed one arm and we grabbed her legs and stuff. And then we took turns getting on her." They did it for fun, for entertainment.

"After she was hit on the head with the pipe, did someone take her clothes off?"


"OK, who took her clothes off?"

"All of us."

"Did somebody have sex with her?"


"Did a lot of people have sex with her?"


When arrested a defendant said, "It was something to do. It was fun." Where can you get the idea that sexual violence against women is fun? From a music store, through Walkman earphones, from boom boxes blaring forth the rap lyrics of 2 Live Crew:

To have her walkin' funny we try to abuse it

A big stinking p---y can't do it all

So we try real hard just to bust the walls

That is, bust the walls of women's vaginas. 2 Live Crew's lyrics exult in busting women--almost always called bitches--in various ways, forcing anal sex, forcing women to lick feces. "He'll tear the p---y open 'cause it's satisfaction." "Suck my d-k, bitch, it makes you puke." That's entertainment.

This is medicine. The jogger lost most of her blood, her temperature plunged to 86. Doctors struggling to keep her alive had to tie down her arms and legs because, even hours after the attack, while in a coma that would last weeks, she was flailing and kicking as if "in a fighting stance." Her face was so disfigured a friend took 16 minutes to identify her. "I recognized her ring."

Do you recognize the relevance of 2 Live Crew?

I'll break ya down and d--k ya long

Bust your p---y then break your backbone

The furor (if anything so evanescent can be called that) about 2 Live Crew has subsided, for two reasons. Saturation journalism, print and broadcast, around the clock, quickly wrings the novelty out of subjects, leaving them dry husks. Then, if someone raises the subject again, the answer is a journalistic shrug: "Not again. We've already done that." But for 2 Live Crew the tour rolls on and the money rolls in.

Anyway, the "fury" over the lyrics was feigned. It had to be because everyone dependent on journalism did not learn what the offending words were. Media coverage was characterized by coy abstractness, an obscuring mist of mincing, supercilious descriptions of the lyrics as "explicit" or "outrageous" or "challenging" or "controversial" or "provocative." Well, now. Provoking what, precisely?

From the jogger trial: "Steve was holding her with his leg and someone was ripping off her clothes and pulling her down. She screamed and Steve held her while Kevin pulled down his pants and had sex with her. Steve hit her with a brick twice."

Fact: Some members of a particular age and social cohort--the one making 2 Live Crew rich--stomped and raped the jogger to the razor edge of death, for the fun of it. Certainty: the coarsening of a community, the desensitizing of a society will have behavioral consequences.

Juan Williams of The Washington Post is black and disgusted. The issue, he writes, is the abuse of women, especially black women, and the corruption of young blacks' sensibilities, twisting their conceptions "of good sex, good relationships and good times." Half of all black children live in single-parent households headed by women. The black family is falling apart, teen pregnancy regularly ruins lives, the rate of poverty is steadily rising and 2 Live Crew "is selling corruption--self-hate--to vulnerable young minds in a weak black America."

No morals: In such selling, liberals are tools of entertainment corporations. The liberals and the corporations have the morals of the marketplace. Corporations sell civil pollution for profit; liberals rationalize it as virtuous tolerance in "the marketplace of ideas." Not to worry, yawn The New York Times editorialists, "The history of music is the story of innovative, even outrageous styles that interacted, adapted and became mainstream." Oh, I see: First Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring," now 2 Live Crew's "Me So Horny. " ("I won't tell your momma if you don't tell your dad/I know he'll be disgusted when he sees your p---y busted. " Innovative. When that is "mainstream," this will be an interesting country.)

2 Live Crew, who are black, resemble the cretinous Andrew Dice Clay, the white "comedian." There is nothing new about selling the talentless to the tasteless. What is new is the combination of extreme infantilism and menace in the profit-driven degeneration of popular entertainment. This slide into the sewer is greased by praise. Yes, praise. When journalism flinches from presenting the raw reality, and instead says only that 2 Live Crew's lyrics are "explicit" and "controversial" and "provocative," there is an undertone of approval. Antonyms of those adjectives are "vague" and "bland" and "unchallenging." Somehow we never reach the subject of busting vaginal walls.

America today is capable of terrific intolerance about smoking, or toxic waste that threatens trout. But only a deeply confused society is more concerned about protecting lungs than minds, trout than black women. We legislate against smoking in restaurants; singing "Me So Horny" is a constitutional right. Secondary smoke is carcinogenic; celebration of torn vaginas is "mere words."

Words, said Aristotle, are what set human beings, the language-using animals, above lower animals. Not necessarily.