Cornell Iral Haynes Jr., better known as the rapper Nelly, was arrested early Saturday morning by police in Auburn, Washington, following a report of second-degree rape. His lawyer, Scott Rosenblum, later released a statement saying that Nelly had not been charged and had been released from custody.
The Editorial Board is unconvinced by attempts on the part of Nelly and Rosenblum to control the narrative of the case by claiming that the “initial investigation clearly establishes this allegation is devoid of credibility.”
This statement is just as, if not more, likely to be protective flexing as it is to be based in fact, given what little information has been made available to the public in the Auburn Police Department press release.
Nelly is not, as he once sang in “Country Grammar” during his rise to fame, “righteous above the law.” The Editorial Board firmly believes that the only special point of consideration made relevant by the rapper’s celebrity status is a boycott of his work.
The alleged rape is said to have occurred on a tour bus associated with an ongoing tour by country band Florida Georgia Line – a tour from which the Editorial Board believes Nelly should be removed until a decision is reached concerning his case.
Further actions, such as boycotts on performances or recordings of his music, ought to be taken against him until his name is cleared. And, they should continue if he is found guilty.
Even if Nelly’s music is a staple in your life, we are sure you can find other rappers to replace him.
It may seem that, in saying this, we are treating Nelly as though he is guilty until proven innocent. We fully recognize that Nelly has yet to be charged with anything and that the investigation has only just begun.
However, we unequivocally believe that boycotts are the appropriate method by which to show that we take the victim’s allegations, as well as the ensuing investigation, seriously.
If Nelly is correct in claiming his innocence against false accusations, a scenario which has at best an 8 percent likelihood according to data from a study evaluated by the National Center for the Prosecution of Violence Against Women, then the defamation suit he has promised to pursue will restore to him whatever he may have lost during preconviction boycotts.
It may, in fact, leave him better off financially than he was before.
If, however, he is found to be guilty, the boycotts should become permanent. We have made our stance on artists who commit violent acts against women perfectly clear, and we feel that Nelly presents an opportunity to put those beliefs in practice.
It is of course still important to separate ourselves from the likes of Chris Brown, Kodak Black, XXXtentacion and others of their ilk, but we hope responses to Nelly’s case will break what has become a disappointingly apathetic cycle.
This case is a chance for the public to do the right thing from the beginning and give due respect to the serious and widespread issue of sexual violence.