Evaluating an Argument
In 2003 the New York Post published an article entitled “Rap Only Ruins” in which journalist John McWhorter argues that rap music is detrimental to society in that it “celebrates” criminal and unethical behavior such as killing, sex and the use of drugs.
McWhorter has a very intriguing topic to write on but he does it no justice with his weak argument. And though he addresses the counter argument that rap is just a reflection of society and music is used as a release and communication device, he merely grazes the subject and offers no real discussion on why his stance is better.
Several times in the article McWhorter uses the term “celebrate” as it pertains to rappers attitudes toward unethical behavior. “Now top rappers began to write edgy lyrics celebrating street warfare or drugs and promiscuity.” Later he also said “. . . celebrate a life of unending violence and criminality.” This is clearly a straw man argument. He is completely ignoring the true stance of the opposing position and offering an exaggerated and misrepresented version. Most rappers get money and move out of their old neighborhoods, away from the old life style which is obvious proof that they don’t find thug life a topic of celebration. It is important to remember that by embracing their roots rappers may not be celebrating where they came from but rather the success of overcoming the struggle to get where they are now.
Often throughout the article McWhorter uses rap lyrics to prove how violent and degrading they are which is a logical fallacy called circular reasoning. We understand that the lyrics are offensive, that doesn’t add to his argument that they are detrimental to society when considering the counter argument that society produces the music, not the other way around.
McWhorter offers a very interesting personal attack on Sean “P. Diddy” Combs in which he attempts to discredit him with facts like he grew up in middle class and attended Howard University...