From Halftime Show to Social Media, Calls To Ban Rap

Plus: Texas voting law likely unconstitutional, remote workers and rural towns, and more...


"League of Sexual Anarchy" would be a great band name, no? The halftime show during last night's Super Bowl LVI featured a roster of hip hop icons, including Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, and Eminem. The New York Times called it "a halftime spectacular heavy on nostalgia and California pride." Conservative talk show host Charlie Kirk, co-founder and executive director of the right-wing student group Turning Point USA, thinks it should've been banned.

In a much-mocked Sunday night tweet, Kirk commented that "the NFL is now the league of sexual anarchy. This halftime show should not be allowed on television."

The tweet is especially rich since Kirk complains frequently about cancel culture and mocks people for taking offense too easily. Yet here is Kirk—a 28-year-old man—aghast at a bunch of musicians nearly twice his age performing a relatively tame, generally crowd-pleasing selection of songs made popular 20 years ago.

A lot of people surmised that Kirk's tweet was born out of racism, as the main performers were mostly black (Eminem being the one exception) and the show consisted of hip hop hits. (As the Times notes, "hip-hop has landed a handful of moments on one of sports' and entertainment's biggest stages, but it hasn't held the full spotlight until Sunday evening.") But it's easy to imagine Kirk complaining no matter which pop stars took the field last night: Portraying contemporary culture as especially depraved is a time-worn conservative tradition.

Regardless, Kirk and the right aren't alone in calls to drive hip hop from certain public platforms. Last week New York City Mayor Eric Adams, a black Democrat, called on social media companies to ban drill rap.

"We pulled Trump off Twitter because of what he was spewing. Yet we are allowing music [with] displaying of guns, violence. We allow this to stay on the sites," Adams said, echoing vintage concerns about "gangsta rap."

'Twas a time a few decades back when folks like Bill Bennett and Joe Lieberman were crusading against rap music that glorified violence. Adams assumes—like his predecessors—that lyrics about violence are driving gang violence in New York City, instead of simply reflecting this reality or, in many cases, serving as mere bravado and fantasy.

Pair this nouveau concern with hip hop with the resurgence of book bans and fear of Satanic cults (a la QAnon) and…oof. Apparently, nostalgia for the entertainment of the 1980s and '90s isn't the only comeback of 2022. We seem to be experiencing a revival of that era's moral panics, too.


Texas can't prohibit people from encouraging mail-in votes. From The Texas Tribune:

A new Texas law that keeps local election officials from encouraging voters to request mail-in ballots likely violates the First Amendment, a federal judge ruled late Friday.

Following a testy three-hour hearing earlier in the day, Federal District Judge Xavier Rodriguez temporarily blocked the state from enforcing the rule against Harris County's election administrator until the rest of a lawsuit plays out. Although the scope of Rodriguez's preliminary injunction is limited, the judge dealt the first legal blow to new elections restrictions and voting changes Republican lawmakers enacted last year.

The injunction applies to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and local county prosecutors in Harris, Travis and Williamson counties.

More here.


Can remote work revive rural areas?



• Nostalgia and cryptocurrency ruled the Super Bowl ads last night.

• President Biden says lifting mask mandates is "probably premature."

• Police arrested protesters and towed trucks from a U.S.-Canada bridge where they were blocking traffic. "Protesters shut down the corridor for roughly a week in a fight against Covid-19 restrictions," reports The Wall Street Journal. "Protests continue in Canada, most notably in Ottawa where truckers and their supporters have camped for 17 days and counting."

• COVID vaccines for kids age 5 and under won't be around until April at the earliest.

The Volokh Conspiracy explains why a bid to get Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R–N.C.) banned from the ballot is likely unconstitutional.

Illegal baby names from around the world.