Thursday, November 13, 2003

JS Online: School suspends teen for rap lyric

School Suspends Desi-Teen for Rap Lyric (Via Suman Palit)

According to this story from The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 15 year old Sashwat Singh, a junior at Brookfiled Central High School, has been given a five-day suspension because of a 32 minute 14-track rap cd he wrote and recorded. The lyrics were deemed threatening towards the principal, and reference illegal drug use and explicit sexual acts according to the news story?

I wonder if anyone told Eminem that making a CD with such content could get you suspended from school?

School administrators called the disc, which includes a song about the principal, Mark Cerutti, and conditions at the school, "gross disobedience or misconduct," an offense on par with making a bomb threat, bringing guns to school and arson. Singh's suspension may mark the first time a high school student in Wisconsin has been removed from school for a song he'd written, said Ken Cole, the executive director of the Madison-based Wisconsin Association of School Boards. Cole said a threat couched in music made outside school "isn't a matter of all in good sport or fun. If some incident occurs a month from now, someone will say, 'You knew back then.' We have to treat every incident very seriously."

But I don't think making a CD is on par with bringing a gun to school, arson, or any sort of violent crimes. I think it is more of an excercise in free speech than anything else. I understand the concern for the potential for danger, especially after Columbine, but I don't think a five-day suspension is going to deter a child who wants to commit such acts from doing them.

A member of the school's band and choir who is enrolled in Advanced Placement and honors courses, Singh recorded and made the album with equipment on his home computer. Then, a month ago, he sold two copies to classmates and gave away three others. One of the copies landed in Cerutti's hands, and Oct. 29, the principal suspended Singh for five days. School has been dismissed on three days during that time, making Tuesday the first day Singh can return to school. But Singh's father, Dilip Singh, said he couldn't understand why his son was given the school's harshest penalty.The other offenses "have to do with drugs and guns," Dilip Singh said. "When you look at what he did and compare one to the other, it doesn't make sense."

Sashwat Singh insisted the lyrics weren't meant as a threat, but "just random words that rhymed. I didn't think I had done anything wrong."

The vulgar lyrics suggest that if Cerutti doesn't get out of Brookfield, Singh will "beat your ass down." Singh, a Brookfield Central junior, also uses a slew of sexually explicit slurs to describe Cerutti.

Sashwat Singh said his parents "weren't as mad as I thought they would be."

"I don't approve of that kind of language," Dilip Singh said.

Dilip Singh said he has yet to listen to the entire disc but did read the text of the lyrics.


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