So in a month that, so far, has seen 274 Chicagoans shot, 45 fatally, Mayor Rahm Emanuel snapped into action and blocked a hologram appearance by rapper Chief Keef because he worried it might be dangerous?
“An unacceptable role model,” in the words of a mayoral representative.
That’s a joke, right?
No, it seems real. The mayor is now vetting the role models for black youth in Chicago. While in Hammond, Indiana, police burst in and closed down a music festival Saturday night when the aforementioned Keef appeared, in hologram form.
“Even though I was told no Chief Keef by the promoters, they tried it anyway. So we shut it down. We turned the power off, we’re closing the park down,” Hammond Police Lt. Patrick Vicari said at the time.
Yes, Keef, who once upon a time went by Keith Cozart, is vile, his persona an image of black manhood as crafted by the Klan, his songs soporific, a bunch of gyrating toughs flashing guns and wads of cash while flinging their fingers around.
So what? Since when does that matter? Since when does the mayor get to decide what is performed in the city? When did he earn that right? Did we give it to him, or did he just take it? And what makes any of us confident he’ll use that power for good?
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Hasn’t Rahm gotten burned by censorship already? Didn’t he learn anything after his handpicked Chicago Public Schools chief, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, paused from canoodling her former employers with no-bid contracts, allegedly, long enough to cravenly pull acclaimed graphic novel “Persepolis” from CPS libraries after one complaint, then lied about it?
How’d that one work for the reputation of the city? “Chiraq” is a compliment compared to the oppressive Midwestern cowardice conjured up by “Persepolis.”
Does Rahm Emanuel have any idea of Chicago’s long history of shameful mayoral censorship? We’re the city that wouldn’t show newsreels criticizing the Nazis because they might foster anti-German feelings. Rahm’s predecessor, Mayor Edward Kelly, banned Nelson Algren’s “Never Come Morning” because the Polish National Alliance didn’t like it. In 1948, Mayor Martin Kennelly banned Jean Paul Sartre’s “The Respectful Prostitute,” based on its name alone.
Sis Daley, Richard J. Daley’s wife, was able to get Mike Royko’s “Boss” pulled from store shelves before a national howl got them put back.
More? Sadly, there’s much more.
We’re the city that banned the movie “Georgie Girl” as obscene, that arrested Lenny Bruce for holding up a photo of a breast at the Gate of Horn in 1962.
Richard J. Daley blocked the production of movies he felt did not reflect well on the city, and as a result movies weren’t filmed here for years. Did that hurt the movies? No, they went to Toronto. It hurt Chicago. Censorship always, always, always blows back in your face.
Richard M. Daley condemned the movie “Hard Ball” because the kids in it swore. Maybe the kids swore because they knew Daley was planting a fiscal bomb that would blow up the city.
And the swarm of low-rent buffoons on the City Council is still working up their courage to yank tax incentives from Spike Lee because they don’t like the name of “Chiraq.” The same august body that condemned Richard Wright’s “Native Son.” I’d bet you $20 that if Spike Lee called the aldermen decrying his movie and offered them a cameo, not one would turn him down.
The mayor’s office said a Keef concert “posed a public safety risk.” So does the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. So does traffic. So does Lollapalooza, but that’s a bunch of white kids, so the risk is acceptable.
Everything is a public safety risk. All the oppressions of Communist China are done in the name of security, protests and concerts and books banned because they might disturb domestic harmony. Given that the Chicago police kill more civilians than any other big city force in the country, I’d say a little musical pushback is to be expected.
You want to know the worst part of this? This elevates Chief Keef, a flash-in-the-pan with cognac dribbling down his chin like pablum. I never had a charitable thought about Keef before. Not exactly the brightest bulb, Keef was the guy tweeting photos of himself smoking an enormous blunt in what was clearly his Northbrook home while simultaneously claiming not to be living there. And now he’s Patrick Henry. Anyone going to a Chief Keef concert at least has to be aware of the chance of trouble. Why doesn’t the mayor help kids whose only risky behavior is sitting in their bedroom when the bullets come through the wall?