The Mabley Archive: Music, filth and vulgarity

  • Legendary newspaper columnist Jack Mabley moved to Glenview at age 27 in 1943 and stayed there until his death at 90 in 2006. He even served as village president at one point.

    Legendary newspaper columnist Jack Mabley moved to Glenview at age 27 in 1943 and stayed there until his death at 90 in 2006. He even served as village president at one point. Daily Herald file photo

Posted10/27/2021 4:00 AM
In 1988, when longtime Glenview resident Jack Mabley brought his column to the Daily Herald, he made a couple of requests: 1. Let him keep his ugly, old green chair. 2. Launch an edition for his hometown. He kept the chair. And now, more than a decade after his passing in 2006, his second request has been granted. This column is from Feb. 17, 1997.

A young staff member sent me a printed copy of the words from a rap group's album. It was shockingly filthy.

It's frustrating that most parents and mature adults never see or hear these "lyrics." If they did, there'd be a national uprising.


Not a call for censorship. But a demand that the business people who are making fortunes selling these records and videos be made accountable.

An appeal to conscience would be useless. Only the pocketbook gets to them.

William J. Bennett, former secretary of education, and D. DeLores Tucker, chairman of the National Political Congress of Black Women, have put aside their political differences and joined in what they call a need for "public education about the sponsorship of music with vulgar and misogynistic lyrics that glorify violence and promote it among children."

They decry America's slide toward decivilization.

They too think the public needs to know exactly what is said and sung.

"But most in the media refuse to print or air for adults the lyrics their children listen to."

If I were to print one or two lines of this filth, just to make a point, most readers would be deeply offended. Interestingly, this week's New Yorker does print a few lines, but it's not a family newspaper.

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Sen. Bob Doyle has invigorated his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination by coming out with a poorly researched and sloppy denunciation of vulgarity, obscenity, and deviancy in movies and television.

His political goal is obvious in his choice of targets. Democrats who make violent films are named and denounced. Republican producers of violence and filth are ignored.

Dole would earn more credibility if he would not try to destroy public television, a worthy alternative to commercial TV's crudity, or if he would support the control of guns, which bring immediate death to hundreds of children, as opposed to the slow rotting of the minds created by media vulgarity and violence.

But Dole did perform a service. He touched off a national debate that is badly needed.

I wish the right and left could stop their sniping and come together, as Bennett and Tucker have done, in a united fight against the destruction of our values.


The most popular line in Clinton's State of the Union address was that the entertainment industry should consider "damage that comes from the incessant, repetitive, mindless violence and irresponsible conduct that permeate our media all the time."

Wouldn't it be nice if Clinton had messaged, "Nice going, Bob." And Dole responded, "At least on this subject we're in it together."

It won't happen.

Last year, a full page newspaper ad advocated abstinence before marriage.

I phoned the advertiser, something called Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, and wrote a column supporting their position.

Subsequently, I found Focus on the Family is run by James Dobson, M.D., who speaks on 2,000 radio stations and has a budget of $101 million. It's a big-time conservative religious enterprise.

I've been on their mailing list since then. I like their position on abstinence, family values, child rearing. I disagree with their advocacy of school prayer and their interpretation of whether life begins at conception or at first breath.

So let's disagree respectfully on some matters, and come together against a common enemy.

If motivation is needed, ask some youngster to supply you with the words of the most popular rappers.

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