Kicking out an ass rapper

No doubt Sashwat Singh’s rap lyrics are rude, crude and socially unacceptable, as we used to say when I was in high school. Should the 15-year-old honor student be kicked out of Brookfield Central High in Wisconsin for rapping — at home after school — about kicking the principal’s ass? Surely that’s a meaningless boast, not a real threat.

Singh was suspended for five days when the principal got hold of his rap disc; he may face expulsion, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Over the course of three months, Sashwat Singh wrote and recorded a 32-minute, 14-track rap compact disc featuring rants that made reference to illegal drug use and explicit sexual acts. He denigrates classmates, his mother and his high school. One track is a rap he used when campaigning to be class treasurer.

I’d love to know more about the class treasurer rap. And he dissed his mom? That Eminem fellow has a lot to answer for.

School administrators called the disc, which includes a song about the principal, Mark Cerutti, and conditions at the school, “gross disobedience or misconduct,” an offense on par with making a bomb threat, bringing guns to school and arson.

. . . The vulgar lyrics suggest that if Cerutti doesn’t get out of Brookfield, Singh will “beat your ass down.” Singh, a Brookfield Central junior, also uses a slew of sexually explicit slurs to describe Cerutti.

So, he rhymed disprespectfully about the principal while at home, and gave or sold the disc to a few classmates. The boy’s lawyer now says he was expressing his opinion that his school is run like a “police state.” No kidding.

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  1. We’re seeing more and more situations where school officials are meddling into the affairs of students after hours and off of school grounds. Where exactly they were given this authority is beyond me.

    Then again, the rise in school administrators meddling in after-school affairs seems to coincide with a general decline in parental supervision. One has to wonder if there’s any cause and effect here.

    More likely, though, this is an offshoot of all the “zero tolerance” initiatives in the schools these days where you not only throw common sense out the window, but also overstep your authority. I put nothing past the type of folks who would try to make a criminal out of someone who let a fellow asthmatic student borrow an inhaler.

  2. Give me a break! Public Schools: The last vestige (evidently growing) of totalitarianism in an otherwise free (although this too appears to be changing) society. Hmmmm…. It’s a good thing the founding fathers (yes, I did use the politically unaceptable masculine phrase)are dead…..
    The problem today may just be that there are too few “Americans” left (or in positions of authority) who have sacrificed, or been wounded, or watched their buddies die to protect what we do have……It’s easy to belittle something for which you did not work…

  3. Bill Leonard says:

    While I am no fan of proliferating litigation about literally everything, this certainly appears to be a case that deserves to go to court. How any administrator anywhere can have the temerity to expel a kid for something he did in the privacy of his own home is beyond me. If the kid sold or gave the disc to a few classmates, conceivably the principal or others named in the raps could have a case for libel or slander. Perhaps rational heads will one day prevail.

  4. What’s amazing here is the difference b etween what is allowed *in class* as far as behavior goes, and what is allowed *at home.* This boy’s mistake was in not performing his rap in the classroom. Then the principal would have done nothing if the teacher wrote the kid up.

  5. I have zero sympathy for the student. This type of gross disrespect is unacceptable for teachers, and principals, to put up with. Things like this make me wish we did have a free market education system.

  6. Geoff, Geoff,

    You miss the point: We have sympathy (and respect) for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights….

  7. PJ/Maryland says:

    I particularly liked this line: “Content is one part of the rationale for the action that’s being taken,” [Principal] Cerutti said. If Singh had sung about how great his principal was and his admiration for Bill Clinton, he only would have been suspended for 3 days?

    There’s a followup on the story here: District won’t seek to expel. I guess I can’t blame the family for not wanting to drag things out, but the school is clearly in the wrong here, and it would be good if they revised whatever policies led to this episode.

    The Journal-Sentinel, btw, supports the school and takes a law and order tone: “Beyond that, authorities – from parents to schools to police – need to send the message that violence and obscenities are unacceptable, no matter how prevalent both are in popular culture.” (from this editorial)

    As I understand it, the 5 day suspension is the school’s second most serious punishment; the only worse thing is expulsion. Maybe the school shouldn’t pull out its second-best weapon when a student at home sings about kicking the principal’s ass? The JS says “violence and obscenities are unacceptable,” as if the two are somehow equivalent, and ignores the fact that there was no violence involved, but simply talking about violence (and vague violence, at that). If a newspaper doesn’t get the difference between speech and action, they’re in a bad way.

  8. I have a lot of mixed thoughts about this sort of behavior. If I was that kid’s parent, I’d have kicked his ass from here to Sunday. Obviously, the parents think it is OK for him to write obscene songs about people. There’s our first problem: mixed signals. It is extremely difficult to get desired behavior out of kids (like, oh, say, doing enough school work to pass state exams) when expectations for behavior are different at home than they are at school.

    The behavior is just unacceptable. Whether or not the school has a right to do something about it is another thing, but that kid would not step foot back in my classroom after pulling something like that. I’m not sure what signal it is sending if a kid can be egregiously disrespectful with no consequences. Everybody seems to want these perfect classrooms, but you can’t tolerate this sort of thing and then expect kids to be respectful in class. How does that principal maintain a functional school when he is verbally threatened and does nothing about it?

    What would you do in his shoes? What if somebody cut a disc like that at the office about the boss? How long would he still have a job?

  9. Rita,

    Thanks for pointing out the complexities. While expulsion from school is probably extreme, there is no question that the kid’s language was inappropriate. Worse, what if the kid walked around school, boasting that he’d threatened the principal’s *life* and gotten away with it?

    What kind of message would that send to the other kids? And what if – this is not fetching far- the kid’s parents *supported* his behavior?

  10. If the boy had made these comments at school, I’d feel differently. But doesn’t he have the right to express himself on his own time? I’m sure that kids sit around saying nasty things about their principal all the time.

  11. How did the principal become aware of the CD?

  12. When someone expresses themself on their own time and those expressions directly threaten another person, the speaker needs to learn that their remarks have consequences. The principle has the responsibility for protecting the school. If he thinks that the expressions or actions of a student on their own time threaten the school, he has the authority and responsibility to act.

    There is a wide grey line between what is acceptable and what is punnishable. Had the student recorded 32 minutes of rap expressing how he was going to shoot, beat, torture, and kill the principle and then handed it out all other students in his class, there would be little sympathy for him. In this case there appear to be a few poorly thought remarks in a much larger work. It comes down to where does the principle draw the line since he is responsible for assigning punishment.

    Unfortunately, the principle was the subject of the remarks. This can make it hard to separate personal feelings for objective thought. In this case, the principle may have pushed the line to far.

    We also need to consider that the principle also has to be looking beyond just this single case. If this one is allowed to go by unchallenged, it can cause problems for challenging future incidents that move farther over the line. If a future incident involved a much more direct physical threat against a teacher, student, or administrator, attempts to dicipline the offender could be met with claims of selective prosecution.

    While I agree that this incident appears to be an over reaction, I don’t think that it is completely black and white.

  13. How can you people condone a student saying he is going to “beat down” the principle and other sexual remarks? This is not free speech, it is abusive and threatening and is the sign of a sick mind when it comes from someone so young. I’m a teacher. I would never take this type of garbage from a child. I don’t deserve to feel unsafe at my job. I am in charge; not the students. Students are minors. The courts have decided time and again that many Constitutional rights do not apply to minors. The reason why so many kids are failing in our society is you liberal weirdos are always trying to make a court case out of something to try and prove your point. You don’t care what the real world ramifications of your crusades are, as long as you can hear yourself whine. This goofball little kid will grow up thinking he can threaten anyone and get away with it because some rich white liberal will always back him up. And then someday he will shoot his mouth off once too often and someone will put a bullet in his brain.

  14. PJ/Maryland says:

    Gee, I hope I’m not a liberal weirdo. And sadly I’m not rich, at least at the moment.

    This is not free speech, it is abusive and threatening and is the sign of a sick mind when it comes from someone so young. I’m a teacher. I would never take this type of garbage from a child.

    Hmm, I guess I sympathize, but I don’t agree. Are you saying that this same “abusive, threatening, unprotected speech” would be okay if it came from someone older? If kids aren’t entitled to any free speech, how can they learn about how things work in a free country?

    I’m trying to envision your policy. Are you saying that if you discovered one of your students was saying nasty things about you behind your back, that you would feel unsafe? Or only if he/she talked about kicking your ass out of town? That you would get them suspended or expelled? How would you feel about a website where students denigrated the teaching abilities of various teachers, then?

    This goofball little kid will grow up thinking he can threaten anyone and get away with it because some rich white liberal will always back him up. And then someday he will shoot his mouth off once too often and someone will put a bullet in his brain.

    Good thing this kid had that nonsense beaten out of him! Best that we enforce complete conformity in hopes of reducing random violence.

  15. Well, there’s free speech and then there’s the consequences of free speech. Two different things. Do we want to teach children that there are no consquences to the things they do? Is that “the real world”?

    If a kid is going around saying I’m a lousy teacher who failed him on purpose, that’s one thing. If a kid says he’s going to do violence to me, that’s quite another.

  16. Not to be a jerk, but the person who runs a school is a principal. Someone’s high ideal or rationale for action is a principle. 🙂

  17. Margaret, I learned “The principal is your pal.”

    The truth of that statement varies from case to case, but it reminds one of the proper spelling. I get hung up on capital/capitol.

  18. Sashwat Singh says:
  19. Sashwat Singh says:

    It isn’t known how the CD got into the principals hands, but most of the information you folks want is probably available at the above link. Check it out.

    Sashwat Singh

  20. Ah, congratulations on your fame, Mr. Singh.

  21. Well, I looked at the song. Typical adolescent stuff. My heart bleeds that your principal won’t let you drink alcohol, smoke pot, and have sex in school or at school functions. Really. I’m weeping at the injustice of it all right now.

  22. I think many of the folks here have missed a key point: Sashwat did not threaten his principal. Nor did he say he was going to beat his ass down. Have you ever seen a movie where the bad guy kills someone, or plots to do harm to folks? Did you at any point think that the actor involved, or the writer of the movie, actually killed someone or planned the harm in question?

    It wasn’t Singh’s autobiography; it wasn’t an essay; and it certainly wasn’t an in-person spoken statement. It was a SONG. You might recall a song from a while back called “Cop Killer”. The protagonist in that song talked about riding in a car, on his way to “dust some cops off”. But in actual fact, the person in that song didn’t exist, and “he” was not actually riding in a car, about to dust some cops off. It was just a song that was made up.

    Aside from that point, nobody involved in this situation is claiming that Sashwat threatened the principal.

    This is explained in more detail on the intro page to the site Sashwat linked to above. That intro page is here:

    Also, someone upthread said that it seemed his parents thought that it was OK for him to use language like that. That’s not true — they said in a number of articles that they did not approve of the CD’s content.

    I think that if the parents wanted to punish him for nasty talk, that’s fine. If the school wants to investigate the “threat”, that’s also fine. But if a kid has feelings about his elders, and we’re suggesting it’s better for him to bottle them up inside rather than expressing them via a creative medium? That’s not fine. That’s a formula for trouble.

    BTW, thanks to Ms. Jacobs for including this episode in her FoxNews commentary.