The choice of the group Naughty by Nature as entertainment for the 25th Reunion of the Class of 1992 was short-sighted at best, deplorable at worst. I am not a music critic, nor do I typically engage in artistic censorship. However, this group spouted a constant stream of offensive lyrics that were not worthy of the students, alumni, nor an institution which is already trying to distance itself from a hateful, intolerant past. This choice did not further that goal.
Twenty-five years prior to the graduation of this class, the use of the 'n' word was a matter of common utterance directed at African-Americans by those spewing hate and harboring misguided illusions of superiority. Today, African-American men and women without historic context embrace the 'n' word in everyday language as if to remove the sting through what is claimed as ownership. This is a ridiculous argument that merely legitimizes the use of the word by others. This is beyond being politically correct. What other culture adopts a negative stereotype for this purpose? These comments disregard the use of other vulgarities during the performance. Without debating freedom of artistic expression, Princetonians need to aspire to higher standards than those that drag the larger society through the gutters and hasten our moral and ethical decline. This is a choice.
Although the rhythms were catchy, the lyrics were despicable. Admittedly, I danced to a few beats, then retired after the unbearable onslaught of offensive lyrical improvisation. This was my choice. I strongly urge more careful future consideration of such matters. This was a disgraceful performance for Princeton University.
Princeton University, Class of '73