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Merchants of filth have worthy foe

Stanley Crouch

NY Daily News, 4/3/06

You can't keep a good woman down, and you can't get an intelligent one to stay silent when the issue is the moral pollution of young people. One can only come to that conclusion when speaking with Lisa Fager, president and co-founder of Industry Ears, a new think tank of broadcast and music industry professionals that describes itself as "dedicated to revealing truth and promoting justice in the media." That's a mouthful. Does it mean weeping rivers over the execution of a convicted murderer like Tookie Williams?
No. Fager wants to clean up what she sees as irresponsible activity in the media, with a particular emphasis on the detrimental effects of hip hop. Her central concern is the promotion of sexual material to underage children and the way this material encourages irresponsible sexual behavior.

"You would never know," she says, "that the largest group of new HIV cases just happens to be young black women between the ages of 15 and 24. This airheaded material desensitizes them to such an extent that they do not know how to protect themselves. Besides vulgarity, there are lethal components to this problem."

Some defend hip hop as the expression of an ethnic culture on the grounds of free speech and artistic freedom - and this con sounds noble - but if these illiterates with gold and diamonds in their teeth found that reading the Ten Commandments over hip-hop beats made money, they would search the Bible for fresh "lyrics."

Fager would settle for the FCC enforcing the law - coming down, for example, on urban black radio stations that violate regulations by playing questionable material before 10 p.m. "Part of the job of the legal system," she says, "is to protect our children from predators."

Censorship is not Fager's goal, and she does not believe that merely attacking vulgar entertainers is the answer. "If NBC had shown a porno film like 'Debbie Does Dallas' at 4:30 in the afternoon, we wouldn't be going after the star of the movie, we would be going after NBC."

I think the millionaires who push this dung have met their match, because Fager is a young woman who has worked in the recording industry and knows her way around the mass media. She cannot be dismissed as a grandmother who doesn't know what's happening.

Importantly, Fager has no fear of being accused of "hating" the black lower class or trying to kill a golden goose. Those accusations may be tired, but they work on far too many black academics and middle-class black people.

"I do not believe we are supposed to sit still while young women are dehumanized, infected with HIV and abused by young men programmed to think of women as nothing but sex toys," she says. "That's immoral and cowardly."

Lisa Fager is another example of American luck. Just when we think the dogs will win out, the dog catcher turns the corner. The howls will eventually be replaced by whimpers.


 

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