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Gangsta Rap, Dying in the Street

And they plan on returning to Lee's home every weekend until BET meets their demands.

Nice try, Reverend. But we call that kind of censorship "Taliban-ing." And it doesn't sit well with the spirit of the First Amendment, either.

"I want the rest of you to come out and let the world know we are not pimps, gangsters and thugs and that our women are not sexual objects, not female dogs," Coates told the group. "We have to stand up and say we aren't taking it anymore."

But will anyone stand up against such movies as "American Gangster," which makes its premiere the first weekend in November? Will anyone be marching to protest Hollywood? Or will they all be inside the theaters watching Denzel Washington star as the gangster?

I'm betting on Denzel.

Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) has scheduled hearings on rap music for Tuesday: "From Imus to Industry: The Business of Stereotypes and Degradation."

"I want to talk to executives at these conglomerates who've never taken a public position on what they produce," said Rush, chairman of the House subcommittee on commerce, trade and consumer protection. No doubt that would be an interesting discussion -- if any of them show up. "It's been surprisingly very difficult to get them to commit to appearing," he conceded.

But he's pressing forward nonetheless.

"I respect the First Amendment, but rights without responsibility is anarchy, and that's much of what we have now," Rush said. "It's time for responsible people to stand up and accept responsibility."

The good news is young customers are taking a stand in the only way that really counts: with their pocketbooks. In its heyday, rap easily outsold country and heavy-metal music. Not anymore. Last year, country sold 75 million albums and heavy metal sold 62 million, compared with 59 million rap albums.

For the first time in five years, no rap albums were among the top 10 sellers in 2006.

The message couldn't be clearer: Leave gangsta rap alone. Let it die on its own.

E-mail:milloyc@washpost.com


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