Editoirial: Rap legacy

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The Intratec TEC-9 is a 9mm semiautomatic pistol with a magazine that can hold up to 50 rounds. In the hands of an angry, unstable young man, this weapon can do incredible damage. Imagine for one second the bloodshed if a gang member were to open fire with a TEC-9 on a crowded playground.

Detective James Nemorin and Detective Rodney Andrews died trying get such weapons off the streets of New York City. The police officers who work undercover in sting operations targeting gun traffickers risk their lives on a daily basis. There is no more dangerous job. And arguably there is no job more important to the quality of life on the streets of the inner city.

There are too many illegal guns in southeast Queens. And there are too many kids with romantic illusions about being “gangsters” who have access to these guns. The danger inherent in the proliferation of guns is compounded by the growing influence of gangs and the romanticizing of violence in rap lyrics.

A New York City-born rapper who calls himself 50 Cent recently burst onto the scene with songs that glorify violence. Here is a sample from his song “Back Down:”

“This is my life, my pain, my night, my gun

Now that I’m back, you can't sleep

I’m a nightmare huuhhhh

You hired cops to hold you down cuz you fear for your life

You heard about them guns I done bought, right?”

Yeah, this guy’s a nightmare all right. Most of his lyrics can’t be printed in a family newspaper. 50 Cent claims he’s been shot nine times and he brags about the time he has spent in prison. Some of his music is punctuated with the sounds of gunfire. There are thousands of kids in America who have memorized the lyrics to his songs. There are five children who will grow up without their fathers because of the kind of senseless violence that he promotes. And there are young men who are looking at spending the rest of their lives in prison because they acted out the violent fantasies that have made millionaires of 50 Cent and other rappers.

Editorial: In the unions’ court

Hardly a day goes by when the budget crisis facing the city doesn’t become even more difficult. Mayor Bloomberg announced Friday that corporate tax revenues were much lower than expected.

Layoffs of city workers now appear inevitable. It no longer appears that the unions can completely avoid layoffs through givebacks and productivity savings. However, they can reduce the number of union members who will be getting pink slips. But they will have to act quickly.

Most city employees now work a 35-hour week. There is no reason why they cannot put in 40 hours a week like their counterparts in the private sector. Likewise there is no reason that city employees should not contribute to their health plans. Union leaders should be willing to be flexible on work rules allowing agencies to provide an adequate level of service with reduced staff.

This is certainly not the time for union leaders to play tough. The mayor is not posturing. The crisis is real. Everyone must do what they can to minimize the pain.

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