Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Decline and Fall

Over the past decade I've had numerous conversations with parents of our kids' friends on issues that did then and continue to affect the lives of the next generation. I try, I really do try not to moralize with other parents, but if I had a nickel for every time I've heard a parent say, "you have to pick your battles" I would have fewer worries about tuition payments. The phrase is a euphimism for "I'm too lazy to parent". Every day I have to steer our kids away from moral relativism, situational ethics. I hear weekly about parenting decisions that can only be driven by the desire for a child to be 'popular'. It would be humorous if the fallout wasn't so frightening.

This mentality seems to pop up regularly when I do a mini-rant about rap 'music'. It's not really music you see, but only noise with a beat. Music has melody, but about rap I can at least say 'Hooray for percussion.' I have contended in countless conversations that rap is representative of the myriad examples of the continued devolution of our society, a poster child if you will. Many more times than not, in response to my contention that rap is a sickness of someone's heart I hear the 'pshaw' tone. That is quickly followed of course by a variation of "Our parents said the same thing about our music" like that torpedoes my hypothesis. I gainsay this simple-minded reasoning and declare the counterargument to be specious. Yes, our parents were restive (some more strident) about the music of the '60's, but more so the '70's where drugs and 'free love' were glorified. I was in the middle of it and remember. I remember the outcry when the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. And that was in response to She Loves You. Nevertheless, most lyrics in those days leaned toward the double entendre rather than being flagrant calls for degredation and worse. Not so with rap and that is my response to those who pooh-pooh my contention. Yes, our parents were 'shocked' and dismayed by our music, but they never heard lyrics akin to 'fuck the bitch', 'beat the ho' or 'kill the nigga'. These are at best misogynistic, at worst racist, but without argument antipathetic. And for those who would like to shuffle me off to get in line with the racists, you are mistaken. You don't know me.

I see grade-schoolers singing along with this chanting and I simply can't fathom the decision-making that led to it. For middle-school students and those a step up it's bad enough. This constant barrage of negative images numbs the senses, perhaps only for a while, but what if the numbness lingers. Of course, rap is not solely responsible for the depths to which American 'culture' has sunk, but the long-term effects are incalcuable.

In Richmond, California last week, up to 20 young people stood around laughing and taking pictures while a 15-year-old girl was gang-raped--for two hours. After her school's homecoming dance. They took photos, most likely on their cell phones. I suppose for a Memory Book. Probably emailed them to friends with a clever comment.

The girl was left unconscious, probably for dead, but was found under a bench. Six boys have been arrested. It is sick, twisted, iniquitous, repugnant, grotesque. How could this be? How ignorant of any moral code, any decency does one have to be to hold the life of another being as insignificant? How did they get there? Moreover, what kind of young people would watch and laugh while a girl's life was forever shattered? This in America? Not in the time when I came of age.

We are rearing a mob of sociopaths that have no concept of right and wrong. None. And the mob grows larger. Don't delude yourselves that this was an isolated incident. Only in the sheer, undiluted depravity was it singular. Only the statutes distinguish this criminal foraging from the brutal murder of a Chicago high school student who was beaten unmercifully with 2X4's by an insane mob of youths. Those are just two recent examples. And someone, anyone can reply to me that our society hasn't sunk to a low that shocks the senses? Don't you dare try to turn the tables, make excuses, defend these creatures and say we have failed them. No. Someone did. I did not.

The battle for our character, our souls has been joined and it happened not just recently, not only in Richmond, California or Chicago. The war has been raging within for some time, all around us and we blithely continue down the path where eventually we will reach the unexpected signpost with the message 'No Return' for all to see.

I guess we'll just keep 'picking our battles' until the war is lost.

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