With high unemployment rates, shaken investor confidence and three ongoing wars facing the United States, Fox News' Bill O'Reilly and Comedy Central's Jon Stewart will square off Monday night to debate that most important of topics: Common's appearance last week at a White House poetry reading.
Isn't this story over already?
I've already weighed in on the issue -- arguing that many of Common's lyrics would be appreciated by conservatives if they actually took some time to research his songs, rather than relying on knee-jerk reactions to sound-bites taken out of context -- but despite my huge sphere of influence the controversy has remained.
O'Reilly believes Common has praised (or at least supports) cop killers and cop killing and should not have been invited to the White House.
Stewart believes Common promotes peace and conservatives are being hypocritical on this issue, since they have promoted other artists with violent lyrics.
At the center of O'Reilly's outrage is Common's song about Assata Shakur (Tupac's step-aunt) which questions Shakur's guilt in the killing of New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster in 1973. The song relies on medical evidence presented by the defense team at her trial that argued it would have been impossible for Shakur to fire the fatal bullets in the shoot-out, after having been shot herself, with her arm rendered useless.
"Assata had been convicted of a murder she couldna done. Medical evidence shown she couldna shot the gun," Common rapped in "A Song for Assata."
The jury, after hearing the evidence, convicted Shakur. Prosecutors did not need to prove she fired the gun, only that she was a part of the criminal act that resulted in Foerster's death, under New Jersey law.
As best I can tell, Common's song does not promote cop killing. It merely asserts Shakur's innocence.
Is that an extreme thing to think? Maybe. But does believing in Shakur's innocence automatically disqualify someone from performing at the White House? That also sounds extreme to me.
Either way, it will be interesting to see who comes out on top Monday night. O'Reilly can be a tough debater, but I think the facts are in Stewart's favor.
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