Earlier this week, Erykah Badu posted her latest video to the Internet. This blog entry isn’t about the music. This blog entry isn’t even really about the video per se but rather it’s about the audacity people have when they break the law and claim First Amendment Rights to Freedom of Speech along with the need to break the law in order to make a political statement.
I don’t remember Martin Luther King Jr. disrespecting parents of minor children by arbitrarily choosing to subject them to his actions that led to legal actions against him by the authorities.
I do remember reading that Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested in March 1955 when Claudette Colvin — then a 15-year-old school girl — refused to give up her bus seat to a white man in compliance with the Jim Crow laws. But his arrest had nothing to do with disrespecting parents of minor children in order to do what he believed he needed to do.
I do remember reading that when Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white man on December 1, 1955 that Martin Luther King Jr. organized the Montgomery Bus Boycott. I remember reading that the boycott lasted for 385 days and I remember reading that Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested for this campaign. But his arrest had nothing to do with disrespecting parents of minor children in order to do what he believed he needed to do.
I do remember reading that when King visited Albany, Georgia that he was swept up in a mass arrest of peaceful demonstrators on December 16, 1961 and that he declined bail until the city made concessions. That arrest resulted in a 45-day sentence or a $178 US fine on July 1962 and when he chose jail time over the fine, the police chief discreetly arranged for Martin Luther King Jr’s fine to be paid so he could be released from jail. But his arrest and subsequent incarceration had nothing to do with disrespecting parents of minor children in order to do what he believed he needed to do.
Martin Luther King Jr. was an advocate for social change through non-violent means and he took a stand to that end, having the courage of his convictions. Whether you agree with his views, the fact of the matter remains that he was a man of principles who did not disrespect the parents of minor children and did not disrespect minor age children.
Now let’s compare this with Erykah Badu’s latest video. She tweeted: “[S]hot guerilla style, no crew, one take, no closed set, no warning, two minutes, in downtown Dallas, then ran like hell… I was afraid. But I was ready.”
Now, why would Erykah Badu run like hell and what reason would Erykah Badu have to be afraid? Either she has the courage of her convictions or she doesn’t. She certainly had no problem publicly undressing at her leisure for the length of the song. Surely someone who had the courage of her convictions would be equally self-assured and confident while taking her time to pick up her clothes and get dressed again before driving away.
Some people are focusing on her physical beauty. There’s no doubt that she is a woman of a certain beauty. But focusing on her beauty is not focusing on the act of disrespecting parents and their children by trampling their rights in order for Erykah to shoot the video of her dreams.
Some people will tell you it takes guts to do what she did. It doesn’t. Many exhibitionists do similar things every day and occasionally the media reports that an exhibitionist or two has been rightfully arrested and charged.
Erykah Badu and her peeps will tell you that it has everything to do with evolution and groupthink. It doesn’t. It has everything to do with wanting to do things the way she wants to do things without consideration for other people’s rights.
Political messages with punch can be made without disrobing.
What’s more, disrespecting the site of former US President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963 is an unconscionable act.
If a non-African American recording artist was to make a video where he or she undressed on his or her way to the same outside balcony at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated by a rifle bullet, the outcry from the African-American communities throughout the United States could not be quieted.
In fact, I can only imagine some of the accusations that could be made about those who did not agree with the shock, horror and outcry against such a disrespectful exhibition regardless of the recording artist’s race or political statement.
That the Dallas police charged Erykah Badu with disorderly conduct is telling in itself. That a citizen filed a criminal complaint against Erykah Badu for exposing her minor child to the recording artist’s video shoot is also very telling in itself.
Yes, men and women have the right to speak out in accordance with their respective consciences and to do so as they see fit however that right ends when it infringes upon the rights of others and most especially when it infringes upon the rights of minor children. Then the right is a privilege and it falls on the speaker’s shoulders to secure a more appropriate, law-abiding forum in which to make his or her views known.