Hip-hop, politics, and the way we get along

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(Photo: Luke Taylor/MPR)

I’ve gone 37 years in this business without uttering the words “I’m a big fan” to guests who’ve come through radio stations at which I’ve toiled. It’s not that I’ve never wanted to, it’s just that I have a personal “no gawking” policy in newsrooms.

It’s not insignificant, then, that I said it today. Twice.

The Friday Roundtable on Daily Circuit featured Dessa Wander, and writer Britt Robson.

Dessa wrote an op-ed in today’s Star Tribune about the conflict between free speech and the danger of hip hop’s misogyny.


When it’s working, the right to free speech shelters our dissenters (a group, incidentally, that includes a bunch of talented rappers).

The question isn’t whether or not to censor artists who espouse misogynistic views. The question is whether or not we support them as listeners and consumers.

At first blush, you wouldn’t think that music and politics and the nature of organic movements and economics and our relationships are all related, but the two clearly pointed out how they are. There’s an exchange at 27:43 that could bring tears to the eyes of someone who loves listening to incredibly smart people who make you reconsider everything you think about everything.

That’s why I’m a big fan.

  • Greg W

    This was a very enjoyable hour of radio. I thought Dessa made a strong point regarding the hullabaloo about Grover Norquist being broadcast on MPR.

    There are times you should listen to and read things you disagree with. It doesn’t hurt you and it actually could help.

    It echoes the sentiment Bob has made quite a few times about media consumption. It has become more of an echo chamber/affirmation of the consumer’s ideals. I thought that was mostly localized one side of the spectrum, but the reactions about Norquist has quickly changed my mind.

  • Keith S

    I thought that Britt Robson had a good idea today when he said that MPR should air a speech by the anti-Norquist (@ 21:47). I agree with Robson that a point/counter-point speech format could have a powerful effect on listeners.

    The trick would be finding a speaker whose beliefs are opposite of Grover Norquist’s extremist views. Robson suggested the leftist extreme (more taxes! NEVER cut spending), but I assert that the anti-radical is actually the moderate.

    I would like to hear someone speak for 55-57 minutes on nuance in government, creative problem-solving by politicians, and the steps that must be taken for these things to become realities.

  • Jamie

    While it was an enjoyable conversation, it didn’t seem all that remarkable to me. I heard the original broadcast and then listened again around the time Bob suggested. I wonder if he got the time wrong. There wasn’t anything special there.

    I still disagree with those who say it was good to air Norquist’s speech. I think everyone who has said that here in NewsCut and on the Round Table this morning are all pretty smart and critically-thinking people who know that Norquist is a greedy, short-sighted jerk. But there are many listeners who AREN’T smart or critical thinkers or well-informed enough to be skeptical about what Norquist says. For those listeners especially, we need critical analysis and fact-checking either during or right after the speech. If MPR can’t do that, then they shouldn’t air the speech.

    And it isn’t good enough to air an anti-Norquist (if there even is one) giving a speech at another time. For one thing, there’s that false equivalency thing that the media are finally becoming aware of. And for another thing, all the uninformed shallow thinkers won’t necessarily hear the anti-N person or won’t want to listen even if they can.