The general rule of thumb is: once something's on the internet, it's there for good. But this simple fact eludes a great many people, many of whom demand the internet erase all the bad stuff or they'll sue
. But you simply can't do it. There are millions of people interacting with everything everyday, and there are millions of places to hide stuff someone else wants to have disappear.
The latest entity to believe it has a shot at bending the internet to its will is Epic Records, which is now making efforts to 'erase' a remix of Future's "Karate Chop" from the web. Why? Well, apparently an "unauthorized" mix leaked into the public ear with a particularly offensive Lil Wayne lyric attached
. (I hear you asking: "In terms of Lil Wayne
, how does one define "particularly offensive?" Well, read on.)
Lil Wayne caused controversy with a lyric on Future's"Karate Chop" remix where he raps, “Beat that pussy up like Emmett Till," eliciting a fiery response from Till's family.
If the name Emmett Till doesn't ring a bell and you're wondering why anyone would care, here's a bit of Till's bio
which, tragically, has a whole lot more to say about his death than his life.
Emmett Louis Till (July 25, 1941 – August 28, 1955) was an African-American boy who was murdered in Mississippi at the age of 14 after reportedly flirting with a white woman. Till was fromChicago, Illinois, visiting his relatives in the Mississippi Delta region when he spoke to 21-year-old Carolyn Bryant, the married proprietor of a small grocery store. Several nights later, Bryant's husband Roy and his half-brother J. W. Milam arrived at Till's great-uncle's house where they took Till, transported him to a barn, beat him and gouged out one of his eyes, before shooting him through the head and disposing of his body in the Tallahatchie River, weighting it with a 70-pound (32 kg) cotton gin fan tied around his neck with barbed wire.
His murderers were acquitted by an all-white jury and admitted to the crime several months later, protected by the "double jeopardy" shield.
Understandably, Till's family isn't happy with Wayne's choice of sexual metaphor, and with Rev. Jesse Jackson weighing in on the issue, Epic is feeling a little heat. So, its heart is in the right place and the offer to rid the web of the offending remix is noble, but there's no way it will ever accomplish that.
"We regret the unauthorized remix version of Future's 'Karate Chop,' which was leaked online and contained hurtful lyrics," the statement said. "Out of respect for the legacy of Emmett Till and his family and the support of the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. ... we are going through great efforts to take down the unauthorized version."
Great effort will no doubt be made, but I can imagine there's going to be some collateral damage. We've already observed (several times) that many companies who attempt mass takedowns often remove legitimate content
, up to and including their own offerings
. Going into panic mode only exacerbates the problem.
Not only that, but is there any real
reason to make this version nonexistent? I understand that many, many people will find Wayne's lyric incredibly offensive (because it is), but does erasing it from the web really
serve any purpose? The information is already out there, in the form of posts like the one at HipHopDX. Killing off the remix, even assuming it were possible
, changes nothing. The lack of aural evidence won't erase the written evidence. An official statement from Epic disowning this version should be all that's needed.
Let the "unauthorized" remix stay live. Bring this
story to the front. This isn't anyone's problem but Lil Wayne's. He wrote it. He said it. He can live with it. No one needs to be tilting windmills on his behalf or on the behalf of those offended, and in the process, potentially taking non-offensive (OK -- less
offensive) legitimate content offline.