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School of Communication
sings tale of injustice
By Mike Soltsesz
Hip-hop music is a social movement that speaks out about injustices. Paul
Butler has spent lots of time analyzing what the genre says about racial
inequality and some of its effects.
Dr. Butler, the Carville Dickinson Benson research professor of law at
Georgetown University law school, came to CSU to present his findings
in Toward a Hip-Hop Theory of Justice. The event took place
on Wed. April 16 at 5 p.m. in the Joseph W. Bartunek III Moot Court Room
in the Marshall College of Law.
His speech talked about the hip-hop genre as a social movement as well
as some of his own experiences. He was a prosecutor in the U.S. District
Court in Washington D.C. He loved when a defendant would take the stand.
He said that his diction would become more precise when the defendant
faltered on the stand.
His own experiences growing up made him interested in studying hip-hop
culture. He shared that some hip-hop clothing is a tribute to the baggy
clothes that inmates wear in prison.
There are more black men in jail than in college, Butler said. He said
that the United States population is 12 percent black and the prison
population is 50 percent black. One in three black men are in prison,
on probation or awaiting trial.
Prison is for the most evil people, he said. Hip-hop
says that jail is for the minority, because the government doesnt
care enough to help minorities out.
He also mentioned that only 12 percent of the people who use drugs are
black, but 75 percent of the people who are punished are black.
He said he feels that we need to listen to hip-hops message. We
cant throw away any of our citizens. We have to listen to what hip-hop
has to say, he said.
Lolita Buckner Inniss, an associate professor at the Marshall College
of Law, is one of the people responsible for Dr. Butlers visit.
She stressed the importance of his visit for the students.
Our students were very fortunate, indeed, to hear Professor Paul
Butlers presentation on hip hop culture and the way in which that
culture shapes criminal law, she said. Hence, Professor Butlers
talk offered a very valuable perspective.