Politicians Critical of Nelly Should Shut Up and Do Their Jobs

Circa Feb. 15, 2002: The Governor of Missouri recently held a get-together at the Capitol Building to honor and thank the rap star, Nelly, for challenging St. Louis school students to increase their attendance and standardized test scores. They responded and did so, and the Governor saw fit to thank Nelly for making a difference. Of course, several loud-mouth whiners (not surprisingly on the other side of the political isle from the Governor) immediately began complaining. My letter was in response to their complaints.

To the Editor,

I was disappointed—though not surprised—to hear some politicians criticizing Governor Holden’s decision to honor the rapper, Nelly, for encouraging St. Louis children to increase their school attendance and performance. Nelly should not be lauded or upheld as a role model, these critics complained, because he curses and raps about violence and drug use.

It may not be visible from the cushy offices at the Capitol, but there is a whole world out there where children deal with drugs and violence every day. Rather than hypocritically preaching to children—all the while accepting millions in blood money from industries that kill thousands of Americans each year—these politicians should take a lesson from Nelly and try talking to children honestly. Or better yet, do their jobs and try to fix the problems about which Nelly raps.

More than a dozen American children die each day by gunfire. Alcohol and cigarettes kill thousands more each year. In spite of the lesson provided by prohibition, we have hypocritical and outdated drug laws that insure the drug-crime problem increases steadily. And despite all the rhetoric about children being our dearest resource, thousands live in poverty with little hope of any future. Which is worse, Nelly rapping about these problems, or the politicians elected to change them allowing them to continue?

Nelly has taken the time to give back to his community. I wonder if the politicians with their misguided moral indignation can say the same.

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