Why is Atlanta Honoring Thug-Rapper Ludacris?

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," June 14, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY HOST: In the "impact" segment tonight, as you know, we have been extremely critical of gangsta rappers who glorify criminal behaviors on their videos and on CD's.  Drug dealing, intoxication, violence, disrespect to women all are standard issue in the gangsta rap world.

One of the biggest offenders is Ludacris (search).  And now he has been honored by the city of Atlanta. Joining us now from that town is Todd Young, the policy director for the Southeastern Legal Foundation, a conservative public interest firm.

Let me just read you the proclamation so everyone knows what we're talking about here.  This is from the city of Atlanta.

"Be it resolved that we, the members of the Atlanta City Council and on behalf of the city of Atlanta, hereby proclaim today, the seventh day of June, 2004, as the Ludacris Foundation Day in honor of the Atlanta award-winning entertainer and the Ludacris Foundation."

All right. So big dog and pony show. He comes to town. They tell him what a great guy he is, because his foundation does give money to charities.  And everybody goes home happy.  Is that the way it went down there, Mr. Young?

TODD YOUNG, SOUTHEASTERN LEGAL FOUNDATION:  Well, I don't know if the city leaders were actually that proud of the event.  I can't find anything on the Web site about this particular day, this Ludacris Day that's been announced.  But sadly, this is really about politics and about money. This is not the first time that the city government in Atlanta hashonored this man.  A couple of years ago, the city council and the mayor appointed Ludacris to a special task force ostensibly to develop and enhance the hip-hop business community in Atlanta. It's a big business here in Atlanta. The industry tells us it's a $1 billion economic impact on the city.  So I think there is some business interest involved here.

O'REILLY:  All right.  So they make their rap CDs down in Atlanta? That's the business?

YOUNG:  I guess so.

O'REILLY:  They hang down there. Has there been any outcry by the people in Atlanta that this guy was honored by the city?  And how about the local media, how did they handle it?

YOUNG:  Well, it's interesting.  There has been very little coverage locally in the media about the Ludacris Day and June 7 being the day that -- I guess forever now June 7, 2004, will be Ludacris Day, very little attention given to that.  But I find it interesting that we have some very -- you know, like well-respected historically black women's college in Atlanta, Spelman College (search), I know many of the viewers will be familiar with that institution, disinvited one of Ludacris' fellow rappers, Nelly, because his lyrics and the lifestyle that he was a proponent of was denigrating to women. So we have educated black women in Atlanta speaking out pretty clearly here...

O'REILLY:  What was Nelly invited to?

YOUNG:  He was going to perform.  And I think one of the...

O'REILLY:  At this Ludacris Day?

YOUNG:  At the Ludacris Day at Spelman College.

O'REILLY:  So he was going to show up, too?

YOUNG:  Right, right.

O'REILLY:  I see, so Nelly got the boot but Ludacris stays in.  I just want to tell the folks, in Atlanta, crime is so intense that it's three times the national average. For example, violent crime, based on 100,000 population, is four times the national average in Atlanta, Georgia.  Property crimes three times the national average.  Murder six times the national average.  So this is a town, and you live down there...

YOUNG:   that's right.

O'REILLY:  ... that's got an enormous problem with violent crime, anti-social behavior, education in the inner city falling apart, yet this is the type of individual that the city admires?  It's almost hard to believe, it really is.  And there is no outcry.  Everybody says, oh, that's fine?

YOUNG:  Well, I think there will be an outcry when the word gets out that this has actually happened.

O'REILLY:  Do you think it went under -- do you think they did it under the radar?  They made it just in a little niche thing so that people wouldn't know about it?

YOUNG:  Well, I think that's probably right.  I think the word got out, if you read the Internet traffic and the media that covers the hip-hop culture, it was a massive event, it was a big event, a very important thing for the hip-hop culture, because what it did was it put the veneer of respectability, the stamp of government approval on behavior that is denigrating to women and advocates violence.

O'REILLY:  There is no question about it.  And not only violence, but it advocates drug use, it advocates disrespect for authority, it advocates across the board.   And you hit it.  It puts a stamp of respectability on it.  Mr. Young, thanks very much.  We appreciate it. One footnote to this report.  The FOX Television Network, which is located in Los Angeles, is putting on a sitcom starring two thug rappers. These are bad guys. And to be fair, I'm not going to watch FOX as long as this program is on the air. This has nothing to do, of course, with the FOX News Channel here in New York. -- That's [created by] the entertainment division.

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