OPINION – The Macklemore concert at Dixie State University last weekend got a lot of attention; some of it good, some not so good.
Organizers of the performance succeeded in bringing one of the hottest chart-topping hip-hop acts in the country to St. George. Despite cool temperatures and persistent rain showers, the outdoor show drew a large and enthusiastic crowd. For the student association leaders who booked the show this is tantamount to catching lightning in a bottle.
Days later, many St. George residents are still talking about the concert, though not necessarily in positive terms.
Residents of the neighborhoods surrounding the Dixie State University campus were forced to endure an excessively loud and profanity-laden show that was unavoidable even within their homes. One friend related to me how he and his wife finally had to load their small children in the car and leave their neighborhood to escape the foul language.
The fact that the hip-hop act dropped f-bombs with abandon is not surprising. But the defensive reaction of some concertgoers to neighbors’ complaints about the vulgarity is both revealing and a bit alarming.
The most revealing comments are some variation of the theme “It’s about time that this town was brought into the real world.”
Here’s how one commenter puts it, “Utah needs things like this. It’s time we get out of the stone age and actually realize there is an entire world out there. It would do you some good to open your mind and not shelter your loved ones so much.”
Are we to believe that a torrent of gutter talk has a net positive effect on our community by somehow establishing a connection with reality that we’ve been missing?
Those championing the performer’s rampant use of expletives seem to believe that a blow has been struck against what they see as the oppressive culture of Southern Utah. They don’t grasp the supreme irony of their joyously celebrating the imposition of filthy language on families who were simply minding their own business.
They carry a chip on their shoulders for the way the community allegedly imposes goodness on them and then snidely tell those who speak out against a deliberate affront to “get over it.” They’re proving the point made by Fred Reed when he noted, “It is much easier to tell people to get over what you have done to them than to get over things they have done to you.”
But what exactly has the community allegedly done to the individuals hurling these taunts to merit such irrationality and anger? Have the families of the affected neighborhood been going around imposing goodness on people against their will?
Or is this definitive proof of the old adage that misery loves company? Those who equate the public use of swear words with a sense of accomplishment seem to be saying, “If we can’t be innocent, then neither should you.”
Seeking out the good and the noble is not synonymous with a Stone Age mentality. That kind of thinking is best exemplified by primitive words and acts. Base language and behavior have been a part of human nature since the dawn of mankind. In spite of that, humanity has consistently found ways to rise above the crude to reach new heights of personal excellence. Great works of literature, music, art, and culture are not culturally inferior because they lack coarseness.
What we say is a reflection of what we think. If our thoughts remain at a level of complexity barely above that of a primate, we shouldn’t be surprised if our language follows suit.
So how do we begin to counter this societal trend of treating public profanity as some kind of great leap forward?
It starts with what we put into our minds. The great educator Mortimer Adler once wrote, “Whoever passes by what is over his head condemns his head to its present low altitude; for nothing can elevate a mind except what is over its head.”
This is not to suggest that a person shouldn’t enjoy the music of Macklemore or any other forms of entertainment they choose. But chanting curse words is hardly the pinnacle of cultural sophistication that some are making it out to be.
Let’s not pretend that St. George residents were edified or in any way enriched by the recent deluge of verbal sewage that forced its way into their homes.
Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives morning show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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