Since black religious leaders in Fort Worth called for a boycott of comedian D. L. Hughley’s scheduled Saturday night performance at Bass Hall, there has been a flurry of verbal fisticuffs across the media- on local television, across the radio airways, and through the newspapers and posted on blog sites worldwide.
The latest response from Hughley:
"I believe that freedom of speech is a zero-sum proposition. Too many times I have watched clowns like these pretend to speak for the masses. I can only speak for me," Hughley said in a statement released to the media. "Isn't there a child you can help teach to read, a war to help stop, an unjustly accused man you can help out of jail? I will not apologize for telling a joke about the world as I see it."
Background of the controversy:
The controversy began when, in the aftermath of the Imus disparaging remarks about the women of Rutgers basketball team, African-American comedian D. L. Hughley did a takeoff of Imus on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show. “These were some of the ugliest nappy headed women I have ever seen in my life”, said Hughley before Leno hurriedly closed out the show amid the crowd crowing disapproval of the entertainer’s remarks.
Now Hughley’s Bass Hall performance in Fort Worth on June 16 is being upstaged by the boycott.
Eddie Griffin responds:
Mr. Hughley mistakenly presupposes that this is a tit-for-tat debate, “a zero-sum proposition”. Seeing that “nothing added, nothing gained and nothing from nothing leaves nothing” the comedian misdirects framing the issue.
Like a true charlatan, Hughley would have us split hairs over Freedom of Speech, knowing the Supreme Court has allowed vulgarity, nudity, and depictions of graphic violence to be protected under the First Amendment. But the Freedom of Speech argument is a myth. What the entertainer fails to realize is that such freedom comes with a social price. A person may say what they wish. But what is the consequence of a person going to work and telling their boss how they truly feel about the job? The bottom line is Freedom of Speech can sometimes land a person in the unemployment line with Imus- which is where Mr. Hughley needs to be also.
Notice also the suggestion that we (“clowns”) should have something better to do with our time than boycott his performance- such as teach a child to read, stop the war, free the unjustly accused, but no suggestion for providing a positive role model for our African-American young men. The fact of the matter is Mr. Hughley is part of the problem, and an obvious product of “poor parenting”.
Somewhere, in his life, his parents should have taught him how to respect other people, especially women. Yet he follows an endless stream of bad boys, railing against anyone they wish, in the most vile and repugnant way. His foul language has become so commonplace that many people believe that it is accepted in the African-American community. Young black boys, following in his footsteps, assail their teachers with demeaning slurs, as if the only women in the world are “bitches and whores”. They know no better because they see no better, not coming from a would-be successful entertainers like Hughley.
We can teach an old dog new tricks, but first Mr. Hughley must face up to his egregious misbehaving and vile speech. But, according to the interview above, he will “not apologize for telling a joke about the world as I see it.”
It is indeed so sad that he sees the world this way. If out of the mouth comes the issues of the heart and beauty is only in the eye of the beholder, Hughley sees the Rutgers basketball women as “ugly” because that ugliness emanates from within DL himself.
Our job of helping young African-American hip-hop youth see the beauty and hope in life is thoroughly undermined each time a Hughley or a Snoop Doog takes the stage. We have to go back, apologize for them because they are incapable of empathizing and apologizing for themselves. We have to untie all the crazy mixed-up notions and distorted values in their minds, in order to set them on a straight path.
Society demands it of us- as parents and grandparents and mentors and surrogate fathers. Why do we fail so often? The very society that encourages us to reform the ways and thinking of African-American youth is the very society that defends their vile behavior by taking away our right to discipline, by defending their inappropriate language as “freedom of speech”.
In a recent Star-Telegram poll (“Comedian’s show may be boycotted”, June 15, 2007), 36% of the people responded that they “could care less about these people or what they say” (referring to the black ministers). So, we fight, with one hand tied behind our back. Money and fame gains the upper hand on reforming bad behavior. But the next time, a black boy acts up in class, vandalizes the neighborhood, walk around in public with his pants sagging below his butt, cursing a teacher out, or handcuffed on his way to prison, this very same society will cry to us, “Do something”.
Maybe boycotting D. L. Hughley is the actual last straw of hope of turning hip-hop culture around. And, maybe next time, we’ll kick up our heels in front of the television set and respond, as maybe we should: “It ain’t my problem, anymore.”