KSU shouldn’t censor students’ music

Editorial Board

The song “Gimme Some More” by Busta Rhymes includes the word “nigga” 30 times. That’s one “nigga” nearly every 8 seconds. It’s no wonder there were some people offended when a group of men chose this song during the Rathskeller’s weekly karaoke night a couple weeks ago. The language of this song is both vulgar and offensive to many, so naturally the university decided that it would be a good idea to cancel karaoke the following week. This is a good thing, right?

Wrong. Why should the university get to decide what kind of music its students are allowed to listen to? Some rap music contains explicit and offensive lyrics. This shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone. No one should be surprised that someone on the stage doing karaoke — a contest where you are judged on your singing and accuracy — would try his best to accurately recite the lyrics that were being shown to him on the screen.

Those at the Rathskeller who are offended by the lyrics don’t belong there, plain and simple. No one chained them to their seats and forced them to listen to the rendition of Busta Rhymes. If you don’t like a TV show, you can change the channel, and if you don’t like the kind of music they are singing at karaoke, you can easily get up and leave. Problem solved.

We can’t just edit everything that we find offensive. That’s the beauty of freedom of speech in this country. That’s what sets us apart from oppressive dictatorships where the government controls every aspect of society, including what is and isn’t allowed on the radio.

Wal-Mart, one of the largest retailers world-wide, made it clear that it would not sell certain CDs that it deemed offensive. Its actions force artists to release edited versions of their CDs. Music is a way for artists to express their thoughts and feelings and shouldn’t be censored by Wal-Mart — or Kent State.

Also, rap should not be singled out as the only kind of offensive music, either. What one considers vulgar is fluid, varying from person to person. Who’s to say that someone wouldn’t find Britney Spears’ song “Slave 4 U”more offensive than “Gimme Some More”? If we’re going to start banning certain rap songs, then no other type of music would be safe, and pretty soon, we wouldn’t be able to listen to music at all.

In canceling karaoke night, Kent State took it upon itself to decide what kind of music students should be singing. When students weren’t following their apparent music guidelines, they shut the whole thing down.

Is the university going to start shutting down groups like the College Democrats and Black United Students if people complain about them being offensive? It may seem like a stretch, but there isn’t any real difference between views expressed in songs and views expressed at club meetings.

The university needs to butt out of karaoke night, and the students and alumni who are offended by rap music need to find something else to do on their Thursday nights. Canceling karaoke night to appease a few disgruntled patrons is more offensive and appalling than any song could ever be.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board, whose members are listed to the left.