Jamie Freeze Baird
Does the end justify the means?
By Jamie Freeze Baird
September 15, 2010

September 13, 2010 marked the fourteenth anniversary of Tupac Shakur's death. Honestly, I never would have known this had I not been surfing Facebook that day. I noticed in my news feed that several friends were mourning this man's death. Unaware of who he was, I googled him. What I found out about this man left me confused and ultimately angry.

Raised by a mother who was a Black Panther member who allegedly bombed several buildings, Shakur's family moved to the West Coast when he was in his late teens. It was there that he rose to prominence as a rap artist and thug.

In 1992, a teenager shot and killed a policeman while listening to one of Shakur's songs that talked about killing the police. Later that year, Shakur got into an argument, cocked his gun, fumbled, and fell. When another person picked up his gun, the bullet dislodged and struck and killed a 6-year old boy riding his bicycle in a nearby schoolyard. In 1993, Shakur shot an off-duty police officer after an argument. Later that year, he sexually assaulted a woman and encouraged his friends to do the same. In 1994, he was shot and robbed, apparently by fellow thugs. Finally, Shakur was shot dead in 1996 in a drive-by shooting.

Shakur is highly regarded in the rapping industry as a great artist who revolutionized the genre. While I don't have the qualifications to dispute that, I wondered why a thug ganster was so revered especially by people my age. That prompted me to post the following status update: "[Jamie Freeze] understands that every death is a tragedy, but doesn't understand the big deal about this being the anniversary of Tupac's death. He was a thug gangster who rose to celebrity through violence and rapping. His rapping didn't stop violence...it increased violence (police shootings). He wasn't a hero..."

Immediately, the flood of comments descended. One person felt the need to remind me that Tupac was a great rapper. I never said he wasn't. I just think it's sad when we do tributes to thugs and gangsters but we forget other things like men and women dying overseas to protect us. What follows is a condensed conversation that demonstrates the idiocy of my generation.

22-year old male (Justin):People overseas in the armed forces isn't them changing the world. Most people in the forces are there either because they don't wanna be at home with their families, they had debts that they decided Uncle Sam would be better to pay off, or they just wanted praise and love from all their buddies on how "brave they were." There's nothing special about those men and women; very true some are exemplary, but not many if any are exemplary. True Tupac was killed due to gang related circumstances, but he was a firm believer in God. He helped usher in and sculpt an entirely new style of entertainment and music. He changed the world through lyrics and the power of his voice, and just because he was a "thug gangster" doesn't mean he was a bad man and not worthy of remembering. Besides, alot of the people who join up in the Forces were those same "thug gangsters" as Tupac.And what are they overseas doing? Fighting old men's war, protecting old men's egos and promoting violence. It also does stand to reason that alot of the songs are based around stupid things, but just because they sing them doesn't necessarily mean they believe them. It's entertainment for everyone so they can't just sing about Jesus loves the little children and drugs and alcohol are bad because quite frankly, not many people wanna hear that nonsense. Simply, they're entertainers, their JOB is to entertain by any means necessary.

Me: I have close friends in the military. My boyfriend was disabled due to his military service. Most of my military friends suffer from some form of PTSD. Don't tell me they aren't exemplary. They chose to go to war. That takes guts. Shooting some thug in the back doesn't take guts it takes cowardice. Tupac knew all about that. I agree some join the military for the wrong reasons, but most are honorable. We are at war to preserve freedom....that's more than some man's ego. Violence comes with war it's inevitable.

Most thugs/gangsters think that is the only option they have in life. Even when they "make it" as a rapper, they continue the violence (Tupac vs. Biggie). Why? They don't "have to" anymore. They choose to.

On top of remaining thugs, they encourage others to join them. Tupac's songs talked about shooting cops, something he was familiar with since his parents were part of the Black Panther Party. So he sang some good songs and busted a few rhymes. That doesn't excuse his behavior. You can call him a good man, but good men don't rape women, deal drugs, and murder for the sake of murder.

22-year old male (Justin):All true, but still and yet even the honorable soldiers have their faults as well. Some murder in cold blood during duty, some torture and terrorize for the sake of entertainment (at what cost again?) some commit adultery on their wives or girlfriends while elsewhere on duty. Of course not all of 'em and certainly they're not bad people, just no better than any of us here. They chose a job, we chose ours. It doesn't just take guts and bravery a lot of the time it only takes them signing that piece of paper that says Uncle Sam owns your ass for so many years and there's more than hell to pay if you don't do and go where you're told. AllI'm saying is Tupac is human just like the rest of us, and we all have done bad things in some form or other or we will and anyone who maintains otherwise is a damned lie. We're all human and deserve commemoration, but some will be remembered more than others whether for the influence they had, or just the mistakes they made. Plain and simple.Besides,God is the only one who gets to judge; not any of us.

Me: Humans are capable (and prone) to evil. No one is perfect. But the absence of perfection is not license to act any way you want. If Tupac believed in God (and who really knows) then he was called to a higher purpose. If he claimed to know God, then he was called to follow God. The Bible (the final authority on all things related to God) says that God is love, and we know we are the children of God if we love one another. Furthermore, it says (I John 4:7,8) that if we don't love others, we don't know God.

I'd venture to say that folks who engage in senseless murder and sexual assault don't know God. Why? Because they don't demonstrate love. Now, do people who know God demonstrate love 24/7? Hardly. Our imperfect nature prevents perfect demonstration.

The bottom line is this: We can judge the actions (not motives) of others based on absolute truth. If the Bible is absolute truth, and I believe it is, then I can judge actions in accordance to the Bible. If actions don't line up, they aren't of God. That goes for Tupac and the soldiers at Abu Ghraib. I never said soldiers were perfect. But I respect a soldier who fights for freedom on my behalf more than a thug gangster who killed police officers and encouraged others to do so.

22-year old male (Justin):I was just showing that although he had a tough life growing up where he did and made stupid decisions thereof that sometimes we don't have a choice what kind of company we have to keep. Rap has always been a war ...zone in its own right festered with gangs and idiocy. In that day I believe that Tupac may not have had a choice with the intensity of gang activity surrounding the genre. It was a territorial playground and he probably wouldn't have been dead long before he was if he hadn't chosen a side just to be able to sing in some sort of morbid peace. Plus he did do other things besides that too like social activism and singing about his younger days (the shootings) encouraging other youths NOT to make those same mistakes. All in all Tupac sure as hell wasn't a knight in shining honor worthy of medals. Just an anti-hero who even though had his major faults, tried to better the world and in the end... was probably murdered for that same reason. [END]

Apparently, you can be a murdering thug as long as you write a few good songs and believe in God at least, that's the prevailing analysis of a few people. However, I have a core philosophical belief that the end does not justify the means. Charles Dickens once said, "Let no man turn aside, ever so slightly, from the broad path of honor, on the plausible pretense that he is justified by the goodness of his end. All good ends can be worked out by good means."

After mulling over this thought, I realized that many conservatives justify torture and prisoner abuse if they believe it will save American lives or provide information. Most conservatives would condemn the abuses at Abu Ghraib (although Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage supported it), but fail to condemn "enhanced interrogation" as torture. Worse, some conservatives the same people who claim to value life see no problem with using torture on enemy combatants or prisoners of war (many of whom are never charged with a crime or convicted).

Like the idiots of my generation, they excuse thuggish, violent behavior on the principle that the end justifies the means. Typically, conservatives argue that the information gained from these torture sessions save American lives. That is highly disputed, but even if it were true, are American lives more valuable than Iraqi lives? Other conservatives argue that sleep and food deprivation do not constitute torture. Would that same person tell a Holocaust survivor that starvation and sleep deprivation is not torture? Some conservatives cling to the idea that waterboarding is not torture. Ask any Navy Seal who went through waterboarding training whether or not waterboarding was torture. The feeling of being drowned is minimally psychological torture.

I realize that my criticism of torture and "enhanced interrogation" techniques puts me at odds with many conservatives. Before you flood my email inbox with angry letters, I ask you to consider this: Does the end justify the means? Was Tupac's lifestyle of violence justified by his great contribution to the music industry? Is torture justified by the unproven potential to save lives? If you insist on flooding my inbox, be sure you answered those questions.

Conservatives uphold life, liberty, and property, or at least they used to before they were brainwashed and told that they didn't have to uphold those rights under some circumstances.I may be called a liberal for condemning torture. I've been called worse. I don't condemn torture because I want the terrorists to win. I condemn torture because I value human life. I don't condemn torture because I'm soft. I condemn torture because the end never justifies the means. If you claim to be a conservative, ask yourself if you truly value life and liberty, or if you are just giving life and liberty lip service.

© Jamie Freeze Baird


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Jamie Freeze Baird

Jamie Baird received battlefield experience in the war of ideology while attending the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. While earning her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History, she served as Vice President of the College Republicans and was the lone conservative opinion columnist for The Carolinian, UNCG's student newspaper. After surviving college without becoming a liberal, she graduated in 2009. Jamie received her Master of Arts in Government, with certification in Law and Public Policy from Regent University in 2011, where she was also active in the College Republicans. You can contact Jamie at jamiebaird12@gmail.com with questions, comments, rants, and snide remarks.


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