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|Posted on Saturday, May 10, 2003 - 10:34 am: ||
I've just been reading a bunch of books on the lives of Tupac Shakur and Christopher (Notorious BIG) Wallace--LABYRINTH, THE KILLING OF BIGGIE SMALLS, GOT YOUR BACK, BACK IN THE DAY, The book by the Editors of Vibe and listening to some of their music--got me thinking.
These two guys were, in their way, trying to get the American Dream. Of course it seems the way they did it got them killed.
In talking with Fans of their music and a lot of the comments of fans in the books that people miss the point--the fact that these guys were high rollers and ballers, had the cars and the jewels and the money and the women excused everything they did and the fact that they did not live to enjoy the fruits of their success.
Got me thinking also about Operation Iraqi Freedom--Americans overwhelmingly approve an unprovoked attack on a sovereign nation, Michael Miliken, who, after robbing folks blind is sought out to lecture on college campuses--in America today do the ends justify the means? Does it matter what you do as long as you make big bucks at it?
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|Posted on Saturday, May 10, 2003 - 01:18 pm: ||
I know you know what the ethical answer to your question is, Chris. But America, in spite of all its self-righteous, "nation under God" posturing, really worships the almighty dollar. When the end exploits and devastates people, how can it justify the means? America is masterialistic, and morally corrupt and this will be its downfall. (Just call me "Cassandra." )
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|Posted on Saturday, May 10, 2003 - 07:34 pm: ||
I don't think Biggie or Tupac expected to live long. So they lived hard/fast. Too bad too, because they were (and still are) the class of hip/hop. No one has or since Biggie could/can deliver rap lyrics the way that he could. And the multitalented 'Pac might have won an Oscar, Emmy, Tony and Grammy had he had the chance.
But there's really only 1 legitimate answer to your question: It depends on what the "means" are and what are the "ends". There is reason for 1 to do mostly anything if 1 thinks the benefit of such outweighs the cost. And if you the remove the fear prosecution and incarceration and divine reciprocity of from influencing human behavior, most of us are capable of anything given sufficient time, benefit and motivation.
Would you pay taxes if you did not fear the IRS?
Would you drive above the speed limit if you were assured of never getting pulled over by a cop?
Would you charge your credit cards for clothing you could not afford if you did not fear getting a bad credit rating?
Would you be faithful to your wife/lover if you could get away scott-free with cheating with someone you were really attracted to?
Would you maim or kill your arch, hated enemy if you were certain the law would never lay a glove on you?
Most of the hard decisions we make are dictated not by what is right/wrong, but whether the benefits of doing wrong outweigh the cost.
Take Milken for example. Dude made off with millions or billions and only had to do a few years time for it. And although you can say he was publicly humiliated, the reality of Wall Street is they are ALL creating/conviving. He just got caught. If anything, Milken is the hero of everyone who made a fortune on Wall Street in the 80's. Those sitting in those plush chairs out there know that Milken took 1 in the scrotum for the lot of them and they are imminently thankful to him that he did not rat most of them out as the Fed's were slapping the iron bracelets on his scrawny wrists.
And when you consider that Milken still has a fortune and his progeny will never have to want for any thing for the next 5 - 10 generations, I'd say that on balance, he made out pretty good. Do you think affluent Milken heirs will give-a-damn that he double-dealt to a bunch of rich/greedy folks a hundreds years a go? If so, then maybe you also think a rich 20 year Kennedy today regrets that his great-grandfather Joe built the family fortune/fame that they enjoy from running illegal liquor during prohibition.
BTW: It was with Michael Milken's junk bonds that financed Reginald Lewis acquisition of TLC Beatrice International Holdings, creating the first multibillion dollar company owned and controlled by an African American. And "[Milken] is a financial genius and a crusader for cancer research." (said by Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. while Milken delivered a speech and funding to Operation PUSH for combating prostate cancer among black men.)
Any need to wonder if the departed Lewis and Jackson felt Milken's "means" justified their "ends"?
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|Posted on Monday, May 12, 2003 - 11:58 am: ||
I did some thinking about what my question actually meant with regard to Biggie/Tupac. I think that the image they wanted to present was that they expected not to live long. I don't think either one of them thought they'd get gunned down over some gangsta mess--though they projected the gangsta image they certainly weren't gangstas--they'd never have had time to make albums or do shows (nor would they have been able to do them, since they'd have definitely been targets for retaliation.
I mean, if you look at PAC, you see a guy who is 25 basically carrying on like a 14 year old banger (head rags and stuff real bangers have, if they have not quit or been jailed put away). The way he was doing WOULD appeal to his teenaged fans, who think such stuff is daring rebellious or necessary to show they are down.
I think I was meaning two guys putting forth images that many would see as harmful to make money--harmful to young black males because they were pandering to negative images that demonize black males, and images that would be harmful to them--if you present yourself as a gangsta sooner or later real gangstas are gonna step to you and test you out--if you start wearing red flags and tattooing MOB on your arm sooner or later some Crips are gonna see how down you are with the set.
I do think a rich 20 year old Kennedy does regret the way Joe built the fortune when it is thrown up in their face or people try to mess with their careers because of it. I think Miliken's heirs, who are probably going to need bodyguards because of some stuff they weren't involved in are going to regret it.
I think Jesse Jackson did regret that when they threw it up in his face.