Published November 19, 2021
The crowd stampede at the Travis Scott concert in Houston in early November seized the news headlines for a number of predictable reasons: the number of fatalities; the lawsuits; and the injuries to a nine-year-old boy, Ezra Blount, who was caught up in the chaos. The usual questions are being posed. Could the organizers have prevented the tragedy? Is Scott liable and do the lawsuits therefore have merit? One question which it is no doubt tasteless to ask at this point but that probably touches on a more important facet of contemporary American culture: Is it appropriate for children to be at a concert given by someone whose lyrics, to the extent that they are at all coherent, speak of the vilest aspects of human behavior in the crudest terms?
A similar issue arose some years ago in Britain, where an Ariana Grande concert was subject to a terrorist attack. The newspapers accented the despicable nature of the attack by underlining the fact that many of the concertgoers were young teenage girls. The question of whether it was appropriate to take children to hear a performer whose lyrics are saturated with sex was never, as far I could see, seriously asked. But then again this is a world in which my wife and I recently saw a toddler in an airport with (presumably) her father who was wearing a Pornhub tee shirt and nobody seemed particularly fazed.
Carl R. Trueman taught on the faculties of the Universities of Nottingham and Aberdeen before moving to the United States in 2001 to teach at Westminster Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania. In 2017-18 he was the William E. Simon Visiting Fellow in Religion and Public Life in the James Madison Program at Princeton University. Since 2018, he has served as a professor at Grove City College. He is also a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a contributing editor at First Things. Trueman’s latest book is the bestselling The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self. He is married with two adult children and is ordained in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.