published Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

Cee Lo cursing scandal: We all need to grow up

Cee Lo Green performs at the Soul Train Awards.
Cee Lo Green performs at the Soul Train Awards.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

See video about the Cee Lo scandal in today's TimesFreePress newscast.

First, let's get one thing straight: Cee Lo Green wasn't "banned" by Riverbend for cursing in his performance on Saturday night. It's just that the stocky, short-armed soul singer "won't be coming back," according to Chip Baker, executive director of the Friends of the Festival.

Apparently to Baker, whose organization manages Riverbend, never being invited to play Riverbend again and being banned are two different things.

Let's not kid ourselves, Cee Lo wouldn't have ever played Riverbend again anyway. The odds of seeing Cee Lo a second time on the festival's floating stage are about the same as Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley rising from the dead to perform a surprise zombie duet of "Thriller" at next year's Riverbend.

Not only do Riverbend organizers (wisely) refrain from repeating headlining performers, but Cee Lo actually appealed to teens and young adults, drew people from outside of Chattanooga to the festival and infused some authentic excitement into the event — all things Riverbend seemingly tries to avoid.

Friends of the Festival's silly ban-that-wasn't-really-a-ban was a response to the "very, very, very many disgruntled emails" that Joe "Dixie" Fuller, the festival's talent and production coordinator, claims to have responded to from attendees upset by Cee Lo's R-rated performance. Interestingly, while Fuller was apparently quick to respond to the deluge of emails from disgruntled festival-goers, he did not respond to an email from this editorial page last week asking if Friends of the Festival planned to request that Cee Lo change the lyrics of his hit single "F@&# You" to "Forget You," as they are in the radio edit of the song.

That should've been our first indication that Riverbend didn't know how to balance an artist known for prolific use of the "F-word" and the "N-word," and glorifying gun violence and drug use during his days with the rap/hip-hop group Goodie Mob — which reunited on the Riverbend stage for five songs during Cee Lo's performance — with the festival's straight-laced identity.

Sure, it's easy to blame the Friends of the Festival for booking Cee Lo. Either they didn't consider the fact that he might perform some of his songs as written, with the naughty words intact, or they knew it was a possibility and ignored it because they were just happy to have a well-respected artist who also happens to star on one of the most-watched shows on television, NBC's "The Voice."

It's also easy to blame Cee Lo, who certainly could have shown a little more concern for Riverbend's prudish nature and the broad and diverse crowd gathered to watch him perform. In the past, he has been happy to clean up his lyrics for live television and radio performances. The same consideration, it can be argued, should have been made for Riverbend.

Still others may also claim that the Riverbend attendees who were offended are the bad guys in the scenario. Caveat emptor, after all — let the buyer beware. If Riverbend festival goers are easily offended by cursing, they probably shouldn't be in public; certainly not in a crowd of more than 25,000 folks. At the very least, they owe it to themselves to be familiar with the acts they plan to see. A cursory Google search of Cee Lo's lyrics as a solo artist, and with Gnarls Barkley and Goodie Mob, would indicate that his songs might offend sensitive ears.

The real responsibility for Riverbend's silly "Cee Lo-Gate," however, lies not with the Friends of the Festival, Cee Lo or the easily offended. The real culprit is our society.

For some strange reason, our culture continues to give power to certain words. This concern over cursing goes back nearly a millennium to a preposterous notion that saying certain words would trigger a curse — hence the term "curse words." It is unfortunate that, in our modern time, our society is held hostage by vocabulary taboos that are rooted in superstition.

Rather than banning Cee Lo from Riverbend or boycotting the festival over a few curse words, we should instead have an adult discussion about why we continue to give importance to — and even fear — certain words. When you think about it, is there anything sillier than being offended by the sounds that come out of someone's mouth? Isn't it about time we all grow up?

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aae1049 said...

Maybe the Friends of Chip Baker are just crazy, possibly.

June 11, 2013 at 12:39 a.m.
AndrewLohr said...

Did his contract require polite words? Will he go unpaid or refund payment if so?

Bad language is like stealing, and Jehovah triune outlawed both via Moses about 3500 years ago. Blasphemy puts God's name where it doesn't belong, and stealing puts the thief's name where it doesn't belong. Michael the archangel didn't even blaspheme the devil; didn't put the devil's name where it doesn't belong. These days when scatological bad language is in fashion, it puts various biological terms where they don't belong. Repent.

Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. What came out of Cee Lo's mouth is what he is full of. Repent.

June 11, 2013 at 1:02 a.m.
Easy123 said...


So I guess that makes you full of incoherent jibberish?

June 11, 2013 at 2:30 a.m.
jesse said...

What were they expecting? Niel Diamond or sumthin?

June 11, 2013 at 5:47 a.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

As far as I am aware, Cee Lo never killed anyone; can't say the same about Jehovah.

So who is the obscene one? Cee Lo because he talks? Or Jehovah because He kills?

Repent Jehovah. Stop being an evil dick.

June 11, 2013 at 6:58 a.m.
dao1980 said...

Haha! Andy said "scatological".

June 11, 2013 at 7:11 a.m.
Oldhickory said...

Isn't it strange how Drew Johnson has no editorial comments about the event in Manchester last week that was hijacked by racists and instead uses his Free Press editorial page space to focus on a local music festival? Or is it to deflect attention away from the outrageous behavior of the TEAvangelical Talban Party on that night?

June 11, 2013 at 8:29 a.m.
marmadukegarcia said...

Oldhickory, Islam is not a race. The people were protesting threats to free speech, as well as the patronizing arrogance of know-it-all government officials. I saw no sign of tea party involvement at the meeting.

June 11, 2013 at 9:16 a.m.
fisher18_80 said...

@Oldhickory: Perhaps it's because this is the Chattanooga Times Free Press and almost all the content is local. Don't look for a conspiracy where there is none.

June 11, 2013 at 9:21 a.m.
kelleymassey said...

A part of "growning up" is learning how to behave properly in public. Cursing is frowned upon in most situations, so the more "grown up" thing to so is to refrain from spewing out of your mouth whatever comes into your mind.

If the festival wants to be know as a family atmosphere, they should not book acts that don't fit that mold. On the other hand, if a person is going to attend Riverbend, they should familiarize themselves with the acts performing that evening.

June 11, 2013 at 9:33 a.m.
Jt6gR3hM said...

"Rather than banning Cee Lo from Riverbend or boycotting the festival over a few curse words, we should instead have an adult discussion about why we continue to give importance to — and even fear — certain words. When you think about it, is there anything sillier than being offended by the sounds that come out of someone's mouth? Isn't it about time we all grow up?"

I agree that some "growing up" would sure help but words will always have meaning due to the fact that if they didn't we could only communicate with grunts and squeaks. Then someone would surely be offended by the g or s-word.

It's a sign of maturity and intellect that a person can adhere to accepted community standards for communicating with one another. And in many cases safer as well and if you don't think so then use certain terms in public and see how long you keep your good name, job, or the blood inside your body.

June 11, 2013 at 10:20 a.m.

Libertine Lunacy: Making adolescence permanent one editorial comment at a time.

June 11, 2013 at 10:41 a.m.
ChattanoogaVol said...

CeeLo could have just shown a little class. If he would have done that, everyone would have been fine. Well, I guess except for CeeLo of course. He's an "artist" you know, and as an "artist", I'm sure he just couldn't compromise his lyrics (even though he does so all the time when he REALLY has to). So, CeeLo showed up 45 minutes late, cursed, drank some Tequilla shots, and exposed his a$$ to everyone in the crowd. Funny thing is that CeeLo actually came out looking like an a$$ (after showing his A$$) instead of showing some class. See, I can rhyme with the best of them. Word!

June 11, 2013 at 11:02 a.m.
Rickaroo said...

I'm rather surprised by Mr. Johnson's perspective of blaming society as much as the offender. Careful, Drew, some people might think that's awfully liberal of you. I have some pretty loose lips myself on occasion and don't get offended easily by someone else cursing but I take offense at most rap "artists," not because of the particular obscenities they use but because 99% of those words are not chosen for poetic merit but merely out of mindless habit. It's simply a reflection of the way they normally talk and they can't seem to help injecting "MoFo" and "b#tch" and other derogatory, scatological (if I may borrow one of Mr. Lohr's fancy two-dollar words) lingo over and over and over, ad nauseum, into their conversation and their songs.

I think it's kind of ironic that rappers have such a talent for wordsmithing but they can't seem to rise above their conditioned behavior of cursing profusely and with such boring unoriginality. I know that some gangsta rappers have made the remark that they are merely employing the language of the streets into their "artwork," but most rappers are so conditioned to exalt themselves and speak in the first person, whether in their songs or in general conversation, that they cannot help but speak like they habitually speak, and that is with profuse and common vulgarity. It's not so offensive to me as it is moronic.

Perhaps Cee Lo Green thought he was pulling a Doors-type stunt (the Ed Sullivan Show, 1967) and standing up for artistic merit and his right to fully express himself with regard for the integrity of his "artwork," but I think he was more or less being the typical arrogant a-hole rapper that he is, just wanting to show his big ugly butt in public. Good riddance, Mr. Green.

June 11, 2013 at 11:18 a.m.
klifnotes said...

If the festival wants to be know as a family atmosphere, they should not book acts that don't fit that mold.

If the festival was really into promoting a family atmosphere drinking any form of alcohol would be banned. There's nothing more difficult, trashy, foul mouthed and combative than when a bunch of festival goers who've had too many beers and who knows what else come together in a centralized location.

June 11, 2013 at 11:41 a.m.
Mashley said...

Is everyone in this town so sensitive that a curse word is like getting Cooties? Riverbend talent coordinators should have done their homework when booking acts. The audience should have expected what they heard. If they didnt expect it, why were they even there? I find the entire thing ridiculous and childish. Ce-lo probably left telling his people that Chattanooga is a hick town never to be visited again. Way to go people. I am not a Ce-lo fan but please, he has a right to his artistry without being berated by the puritans. Thought those died out in the 1600's.

June 11, 2013 at 12:12 p.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

Tonight is Faith and Family Night! Time to bring the family together and worship a demented deity whose great love for His creations has caused millions of deaths in His Holy name!

Join in singing hymns of praise to the butcher of innocents, a paean to blood sacrifice, a prayer to His bastard son (often depicted wearing flowing robes,long hair, and surrounded by men — Great Holy Homo!) and a great Holy Spook crapping out glossolalia and striking people with the dying cockroach quivers.

Get your seats early as the Lee Singers (used to be Bob Jones Bible College of hate and racial bigotry and where Billy Graham learned his jive talk) make you weep with another song about sin, death and the bogyman.

Catch your favorite Christ impersonator at the "America's Got Jesus" stage where participants will wheel out their Sunday-go-to-meeting fiberglass crosses (now with foot-rests for those long musical numbers) and buckets of fake blood. The winner will receive a special Crown-of-Thorns and a week's free meals at Karl's Restaurant where you can enjoy Karl's new breakfast cereal "Prostituties" (they don't snap, crackle, or pop —they just lay there and hunch).

Special Jew-hating appearance by Mel Gibson and the Fred Phelps Creepers bring the Word of religious intolerance and faux compassion before releasing naked infidels to be beaten by the crowd with the special Falwell Cat-of-Nine-Tails to show the love of God.

No Riverbend pin? No worry! Bring your autographed picture of Jesus (must be white, Aryan, with praying hands — sorry, no Jewish-looking Jesus pictures accepted).

First fifty saved souls through the Eye-of-the Needle gate get real nails from the cross (or substitute of equal value) and their picture made with Saint Ernest Angley, God's favorite show-time faith-healer (please refrain from laughing at his toupee as you remember what happen to the little kids who laughed at Elisha's bald pate).

Let the children play on the 10 Plagues of Egypt ride where they'll receive boils, lice, frog warts, fleas, and dead livestock --kind of like being in the ball pit at McDonalds.

Yes, it's time to weep tears of guilt, shame, and proscribed sin tonight at Riverbend for "Blind Faith and Family" night. Bring plenty of cash as God likes the folding stuff and doesn't want Mastercard or Visa taking 5% of His Holy proceeds.

So here's to the fun of "Goobers for God" (please deposit all trash and sins in the receptacles marked "Muslims, Buddhists, and freethinkers are going to Hell") and save a spot for God's favorite bigots at Fox News. Their sheets should be back from the cleaners by show-time.

June 11, 2013 at 1:15 p.m.

That God-haters refer to Cee-Lo’s verbal pornography as artistry or the mere equivalent of “a curse word” is both desperate and telling. His vocabulary and behavior reveals the mind of a shallow, inarticulate exhibitionist and reflects the disease-ridden garbage heap that defines a culture given to God-hating. Take a bow, miscreants. This is your art. This is your liberty. This is the fruit of your abiding adolescence.

June 11, 2013 at 1:38 p.m.
cagerattler said...


You seem like a really nice person. Probably a list of friends and family a mile long huh? Or, are you just another nut from Dayton who sits in a dark bedroom blogging as many sites and articles as you can in hopes of having some form of human contact because you have nut jobbed yourself out of every relationship you've ever come close to having in the real world?

Either way, I believe there IS a God great enough to see through all that you currently are and love the person he intended you to be. I believe that because he saw through who I WAS years ago and loved me for who He intended me to be. Truth is, I'm just like you. A nut full of hate. Only difference is, I finally let Him in my heart. I pray you have that same great gettin up morning one day. You're missing a beautiful life in that dark bedroom of yours.

June 11, 2013 at 1:50 p.m.
cagerattler said...

As for the actual article/topic. All you had to do was listen to anything Cee-Lo has ever done and it would be clear what you're getting. I actually dig a lot of what he's done over the years. But he is what he is. And the Friends of the Festival knew that. Don't hate the player OR the game. Simply don't go to the game.

June 11, 2013 at 1:52 p.m.
Stewwie said...

Double D,

You need help.


Great post.

Times Free Press,

Time to fire Drew Johnson. Enough is enough.

June 11, 2013 at 2:02 p.m.
cooljb said...

What about improperly exposing himself to children?

June 11, 2013 at 2:02 p.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

cagerattler wrote: Either way, I believe there IS a God great enough to see through all that you currently are . . .

So, in addition to killing innocent men, women, and children, He likes to peep?

Peeping Jehovah! The Voyeur Deity. Was that the guy hanging out in the bushes in Fort Wood?

"No Officer, I wasn't peeping. I lost my Holy Spirit around here in the garden and I was just looking through the window at the naked woman to see if she was hiding it in her burning bush. Honest, I swear to myself!"

DD-- alone, sitting in the dark, without family or friends, LMFAO!

June 11, 2013 at 2:16 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

Mashley, I couldn't care less about Cee Lo's opinion of Chattanooga or what he tells "his people" about it. He's a degenerate, arrogant prick who, like most rap "artists" is 99% ego and 1% talent (and that talent is nothing more than the simple ability to string unending phrases together in rhyme and put it all to a deafening bass beat). If you want to call that artistry, well, that's your prerogative, I suppose. Having said that, I think this whole thing is a fiasco in that the organizers and the fans of Cee Lo should have known what to expect anyway, and for them to act shocked about his vulgarity after the fact is ridiculous.

Daytonsdarwin, you make an excellent point. There is nothing more disgusting and offensive than Faith and Family night, when the good Christian folk turn out to hear their favorite Christian bands rocking out and playing their love songs to Jesus. You can rest assured there won't be any curse words but the notion of blood sacrifice and original sin and the need to be "washed" in the blood of Jesus in order to be "saved" from eternal torment is pretty damned offensive in itself.

June 11, 2013 at 2:18 p.m.
Jt6gR3hM said...

daytonsdarwin said...

Special Jew-hating appearance by Mel Gibson and the Fred Phelps Creepers

sorry, no Jewish-looking Jesus pictures accepted

please deposit all trash and sins in the receptacles marked "Muslims, Buddhists, and freethinkers are going to Hell"

Dabbling in Irony?


June 11, 2013 at 4:03 p.m.
Easy123 said...

One question to any Christian here:

If you were present during the arrest, trial, scourging, and crucifixion of the individual known as Jesus, would you have felt obligated to stop what was going on or, at least, voice your disapproval or riot about what was going on?

June 11, 2013 at 4:32 p.m.
aae1049 said...


June 11, 2013 at 9:23 p.m.
klifnotes said...

Easy 123, that's easy to answer. Many today who shout Lord! Lord! would have most certainly been on the opposite side in Jesus times; praising the crucifixion. Their intolerance today proves that beyond a shadow of a doubt. For sure, they would have done nothing to stop it, and would have more likely joined in and made it a festival occasion, celebrating the crucifixion.

June 11, 2013 at 9:37 p.m.
Easy123 said...



And, if you had done so, you would not have been "saved". It is the immoral human sacrifice that you believe gives you the ability to be "redeemed". To be a Christian, you must accept that particular human sacrifice as necessary.

June 11, 2013 at 9:49 p.m.

If Easy had a dollar for every anachronism in his devastating arsenal of hypotheticals, he could afford a plane ticket and luxury suite for a vacation most anywhere in the world, which would help remedy his Americanistic understanding of the world beyond our borders. I’ll contribute a couple of dollars for today’s comments. I don’t, however, have the time or patience to wade through his voluminous past examples.

June 12, 2013 at 9:32 a.m.
Leaf said...

Easy baits the trap and springs it. aae gets catch 22ed. That's why time travel is a bad idea. Never know what grandfather you'll kill or diety you'll save.

Hmm. So did the Roman soldiers on crucify detail that day go to heaven or hell? After all, they made it possible for original sin to be forgiven, right? They must have been doing God's will so it hardly seems fair to punish them for it. On the other hand they killed Jesus. That's probably not something you want on your resumé.

June 12, 2013 at 9:41 a.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

Monty Python's "The Life of Brian" is still a better story than the maudlin Bible stories of undeserved guilt, original sin, and hocus-pocus. Plus, "Brian" has a better song at the end. Instead of "The Old Rugged Cross" you get "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life".

Any truth to the rumor that there were "Shrouds of Falwell" on king-size JC Penny cotton sheets on exhibition at Riverbend?

June 12, 2013 at 10:24 a.m.
jesse said...

Leaf ,you hit on the contradiction that made me realize it's all hogwash!

GOD knows everthing that has and EVER will go down and he put us on Earth to pass a test that he already knows who will and who won't pass?? I know Roo gonna give me heat BUT that is idjitotic to me!

"FAITH" what ya gotta have to believe the unbelievable!!

Actually if religion is fact then EVERYBODY is goin to hell!

June 12, 2013 at 10:53 a.m.
Rickaroo said...

No flack from me on this one, Jesse. I agree with you completely. If ever there was anything worthy of being called idiotic it's what you just described. I came across a couple of interesting, funny, accurate synopses of Christianity a while back. I don't know who wrote them so I can't give credit where credit is due, but here they are:

"Christianity is the belief that a narcissistic Jewish guy from long ago who is his own father can make you live forever if you pretend to eat his flesh and drink his blood and telepathically tell him you love him so he can remove an evil spell from your soul that is present in everyone because a woman made from a rib was persuaded by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree."


"A perfect, omnipotent god of love deliberately created flawed beings so that he would have to kill almost all of them and start over so he would have to send himself down among them and sacrifice himself to himself in order to allow himself to forgive those flawed beings for having the flaws he himself created in them."

June 12, 2013 at 11:37 a.m.
jesse said...

I think if i ever decide to get religion I'm gonna go w/Islam> At least ya got a shot at 77 virgins!

I just hope that along w/the virgins you get to be 25 again cause 77 virgins ain't gonna help me much at 73!!LOL!

June 12, 2013 at 11:46 a.m.
jjmez said...

Easy123 said... One question to any Christian here: If you were present during the arrest, trial, scourging, and crucifixion of the individual known as Jesus, would you have felt obligated to stop what was going on or, at least, voice your disapproval or riot about what was going on?

He would have been considered pompous, trifling, arrogant and FULL OF HIMSELF by today's worshippers. They'd have hit him with scandal after scandal in an effort to discredit him and turn the villagers against him. They would have called him ugly or at least physically unattractive to appear more polite.

For the beautiful, handsome blue eyed Jesus depicted today in no way would even remotely resemble any ancient Jesus of biblical times. Whose skin color would have most likely been considered olive like or tan or even darker. He most likely had unruly curly to coarse hair and, with todays standards on beauty, what would have been viewed as a large unattractive nose.

June 12, 2013 at 12:01 p.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

jesse said...

"I think if i ever decide to get religion I'm gonna go w/Islam> At least ya got a shot at 77 virgins!"

The only problem with that is all the virgins are 77 and look like Mother Teresa.

June 12, 2013 at 12:04 p.m.
Leaf said...

Virgin lovin' isn't that great.

June 12, 2013 at 2:43 p.m.
fairmon said...

Cee-lo, in my opinion, is a du mass thug and con artist but no dumber than those that go see him and take their kids without knowing what his performance is like. His following are people with similar behavior so it is not a crowd that kids should be in. I wouldn't go see him if the entry fee was zero plus free food and refreshments. It isn't his language that I don't like it is him, I fail to see why he is considered talented.

June 12, 2013 at 8:40 p.m.
stevenhahafunny said...

I'm sure I'm just repeating what everyone else has been saying, but I recently did a vlog on the topic.

You probably won't enjoy it if you're generally pro-Chattanooga though... :)

June 15, 2013 at 8:01 p.m.
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