Beloit College's annual Mindset list came out today.
The fancy little Wisconsin school puts the list -- which aims to show how kids entering college this year see the world, basically by pointing out a bunch of pop culture references they won't understand because they're so young -- under the guise of an educational aid to their instructors.
You know, so their professors aren't constantly comparing present-day situations to old storylines from Mary Worth and Prince Valiant. Ahem.
The real joy, of course, is for the rest of us, who get to look at the list and feel super old. The 2010 list is actually a bit of a dud ("While they were babbling in strollers, there was already a female Poet Laureate of the United States") but there's one item that really grabbed me:
"24. 'Cop Killer' by rapper Ice-T has never been available on a recording."
That's right, Ice T's controversial song, recorded with his LA Metal band Body Count, has been successfully censored for 18 years.
Consider this: Ice-T has played a cop on TV for a decade!
Look, the song is obviously a rant recorded in the first-person narrative for effect. It's meant to grab attention, and it did, drawing people to consider a serious cause. It's a little over the top, sure, but it doesn't really glamorize killing cops, it just rages against the beat downs that plagued LA in the late 80s and early 90s, when songs like N.W.A's "Fuck Tha Police" were recorded.
Is anyone doubting there were serious problems with cops in LA at the time? Does anyone doubt that dudes with badges were administering undeserved beat downs to young black males in LA? Then why would we allow an angry, though probably a little inappropriate, response to be censored?
This was a serious problem -- who are we to tell the victims how they're allowed to feel about it? I, for one, am very uncomfortable telling people they can't act out their rage through art, even if I find the art troubling.
Luckily, people today have better weapons than Ice-T did at the time. Dashboard cameras and the prevalence of cell phone cameras, which the NAACP has explicitly urged people to use to document police brutality, are helping solve the problem.
It's not like police brutality has been eradicated -- SUV-driving soccer moms are getting tased nowadays. But, happily, the class of 2014 lives in a time when people can document their interactions with police and sue the shit out of the bad ones and their bosses. That's a way better response than releasing an angry song.
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But it's also time those kids hear an official release of "Cop Killer." The song is an important document from a troubled time and it needs to be witnessed.
Oh, who am I kidding -- kids today don't buy music anyway!
Here's the song, dedicated to Daryl Gates.