Only in America

 

Former drug lord Ricky Ross is suing rapper Rick Ross and Def Jam boss Jay-Z for trademark infringement, among other things. The suit is for $50 million, but this is small change to Ross (the former drug trafficker):

Ross was the premier distributor of crack cocaine in Los Angeles and beyond during the 1980s, thanks largely to his connection with CIA-linked supplier Oscar Blandon. Ross claims he often moved $2 million to $3 million of crack per day. “Our biggest problem had got to be counting the money,” Ross told the San Jose Mercury News in 1996. “We got to the point where it was like, man, we don’t want to count no more money.”

So much is wrong with this story — and our increasingly derelict society. Here are three that come to mind:

1) A rapper can make big commercial money by taking the name (and, by association, the “cool factor”) of an infamous drug kingpin.

2) Someone thinks this is a good use of our courts’ time.

3) It doesn’t appear that Ricky Ross learned another valuable trade – or a lesson, it seems – during his time in prison.

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  1. Profile Photo Contributor
    @JamesPoulos

    This really is wearying, Ursula. But one thing that nags at me all the time is this: do we really live in an “increasingly derelict society”? Weren’t things worse in, say, 1972? Without a doubt, many indicators of social decay have plunged since the rough days of our post-’60s burnout and subsequent malaise. Even the big social problems of the ’80s have subsided at least a bit — homelessness, divorce, and yes, crack. And yet: decay isn’t dereliction, to use your word. There is decadence in the air. It’s a strange time. How do we capture what’s really going on?

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  2. Profile Photo Contributor
    @UrsulaHennessey

    Hmm. Well, derelict (run down, falling apart, etc.), I think, is appropriate to describe a society that will give over money — fistfuls of it — because a person’s name makes them think of a drug lord which makes them think “success,” “honor,” “America,” whatever. I do think that when the same students/parents we are targeting with lots of language and money with regard to their education choices are, instead, using time and money to revere and support rap stars who in turn revere drug kings, we’re getting to the “increasingly derelict” side of things. Maybe that’s just me.

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  3. Profile Photo Contributor
    @UrsulaHennessey

    I should add that the “increasingly” refers to my impression that people are totally immune to these kinds of stories today. I think there’d be a wee bit more outrage in the 70s and 80s. Again, could be just me.

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  4. Profile Photo Editor
    @RobLong

    I agree, Ursula. Small data point: I remember, as a kid, hearing the F-word on the street, once, and being scandalized. There were things you just didn’t do or say in the public sphere. Now, I not only hear it on the street all the time, I hear kids saying it. It wasn’t that people didn’t use the word back then, it’s that they knew it wasn’t right to use it out loud, on the street.

    “Derelict” seems like the right word to describe a society that no longer has a category for behavior and speech that are acceptable in public and another for what’s acceptable in private.

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  5. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Singlemalted

    The problem that our culture faces is that most of us, having endured twenty plus years of 24/7 media marination in the the current ghetto-spiced “lifestyle” that Ursula refers to above, have become effectively numb to all of this. A protective callus has formed over our souls, so to speak, and the execrable behavior cited elicits little more than a collective yawn.

    This Infotainment-Dereliction Complex has officially rendered common-sense rejection and reprimand of corrosive public behavior as unwanted, perhaps a skosh racist, and at the very minimum, hopelessly uncool.

    It may or may not “Take a Village” to raise children, but when your culture is in a free-fall, there can be no doubt that mass dereliction abounds.

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