The Taser's Edge

No Radiohead on Wall Street for Me (Sad Face)

But thanks to @BenjySarlin, I can still experience a little of the same, from 2004’s RATM show on Wall Street:

Thinking now of the sweeping economic reform that show brought about brings tears to my eyes…or maybe protest music really requires something beyond itself to change anything.

Update: I guess lots of sad faces out there. Still…my cynical take on protest music stands (despite its awesomeness).

Woman is the Nigger of the World

I like the Beatles a lot, but I married into some Beatles fanaticism.  Today, one of Holly’s friends, long-time friends by virtue of their shared Beatle fan-ness, referenced the title of this song (and post).  Out of context (like if you randomly came across this post or linked from Facebook knowing the title alone).  And I had no idea what this friend was talking about.  As surely is also the case for at least some of you.  Most smart (courageous?) to me is the fact that Lennon didn’t feel the need to put any black musicians in his band in order to play this song.  Also interesting to me is that at one time you could say ‘nigger’ on broadcast television.  At a time when it probably was more often offensively heard and more often offensively used than it is now.  What’s more, Lennon released it as a 7″ single.

See if you buy his explanation for the song and its lyrics.  The audience does so enthusiastically, but then again they have flashing signs telling them to.  It makes me wonder how open we are today to having people use this particular word in order to call for social change.

In comparison, on their album of covers, Renegades, Rage Against the Machine covered Volume 10’s Pistol-Grip Pump. And while the original certainly isn’t clean, Zack de la Rocha of RAtM, of Mexican-American descent (at least according to Wikipedia) adds the word “niggas” to the chorus, which was written by a black MC who did not use the word.  (I suppose I could be wrong on this, if the lyrics for the video were edited from the album version, but the lyrics that I found elsewhere are by no means radio-edited, so that would be odd if only some of the lyrics were edited.)

The original “Pistol-Grip Pump”:

Rage Against the Machine’s version (video put together separately and by the YouTuber):

This was really unsettling to me the first time I heard it, just as the title of Lennon’s song is still unsettling to me.  De la Rocha, like Lennon, is certainly calling for social change (albeit a certain, violent kind in de la Rocha’s case).  But when is the use of ‘nigger’ or any other hate speech justified?  And do we have different standards for different people, dependent on their skin color and regardless of whether it’s the same usage?

For instance, rate how offensively you receive the word ‘nigger’ being said in a vacuum by:
1. A white male
2. A white female
3. A black male
4. A Mexican male
5. A Native American male
6. A Jewish woman
7. An Asian male
8. A gay white male

It makes a difference, doesn’t it?