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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Cell Therapy


The South got somethin’ to say


To me, arguably one of the most meaningful albums dropped during my high school graduation year was Goodie Mob’s Soul Food. In particular, my friend, “1/2 Ton,” and I used to listen to “Cell Therapy” on repeat while cruisin’ the streets of Bomb City.


The hook states:


Who’s that peeking in my window?

Pow!!...nobody now (nobody now)

Who’s that peeking in my window?

Pow!!...nobody now (nobody now)


This was no ordinary track, because it featured socio-politically relevant lyrics delivered over a melodic beat that rattled vehicles as 1/2 Ton and I battered the streets. To me, it was as though philosophers stepped into a booth and recorded a banger that intellectuals and knuckleheads could both appreciate.


Associated with the Dungeon Family, members of Goodie Mob were on the stage when fellow Family member André 3000 gave a brief speech at the 1995 Source Awards by boldly declaring:


But it’s like ‘dis, ‘tho’. I’m tired of folks, know’m’sayin’—the closed-minded folks, you’know’m’sayin’—it’s like, we got a demo tape and don’t nobody wanna’ hear it. But it’s like, ‘dis da’ South—got somethin’ to say! That’s all I got to say!


I can’t recall being more proud of any hip hop music artist before, during, or subsequent to 3000’s declaration. People within hip hop culture often considered those of us from the South to be slow, ignorant, and as having nothing worthwhile to say.


While I consider each lyric of “Cell Therapy” as retaining relevance, in particular, CeeLo’s verse is worth expanding upon herein:


Me and my family moved in our apartment complex

A gate with a serial code was put up next

They claim that this community is so drug-free

But it don’t look that way to me

‘Cause I can see the young bloods hanging out at the store 24/7

Junkies looking for a hit of the blow; it’s powerful

Oh, you know what else they tryin’ to do?

Make a curfew, especially for me and you

The traces of the New World Order, time is getting shorter

If we don’t get prepared, people, it’s gon’ be a slaughter

My mind won’t allow me to not be curious

My folk don’t understand, so they don’t take it serious

But every now and then, I wonder if the gate was put up

To keep crime out or keep our ass in


The South had somethin’ to say about observed patterns on a local level in 1995. Now, just shy of three decades later, some of these patterns have become mainstream components of modern society at a national level.


In specific, I’m referring to the Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology (RESTRICT) Act. According to one source, this Act is “a systematic framework for addressing technology-based threats to the security and safety of Americans.”


Illogical appeal


On my hands and knees while de-weeding a lawn with a fellow recruit aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego in 1996, I exchanged lines of “Cell Therapy” with a fellow southerner. The entire Soul Food album was eventually recited by us throughout the course of our training.


I knew little about United States (U.S.) government operations at that time. Perhaps I knew a little more in 1999, when receiving guidance from the U.S. Department of State while undergoing Marine Security Guard training.


During my course of instruction, and prior to the events of 9/11, I learned about how the U.S. government was spying on U.S. citizens through electronic and other means. The world later became privy to this information through Edward Snowden’s classified information leaks.


Using 9/11 as justification to destroy the Fourth Amendment, the Bush administration introduced the Uniting and Strengthening America (USA) by Providing Appropriate Tools to Restrict, Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (PATRIOT) Act.


Doublespeak—terms which deliberately obscure, disguise, distort, or reverse the meaning of words—such as the USA PATRIOT Act, may sound soothing to the anxious mind. If person A is afraid of would-be wrongdoers targeting him, the benevolent government’s USA PATRIOT Act offers the illusion of protection.


However, explanation of logical fallacies may offer insight as to the mechanisms at play when U.S. citizens eagerly trade liberty for perceived security. Things are not as they may seem.


For instance, argumentum ad verecundiam—or appeal to authority—details how claims are believed to be true simply because an authoritative source proposes them. If the government says its actions will protect you, an appeal to authority may lead some people to believe the claim.


Likewise, argument by vehemence—or appeal to emotion—highlights how use of emotion in place of reason can persuade people to one argument over another. If you are afraid and believe the government can protect you from harm, it doesn’t matter whether or not safeguard measures impede on your rights. After all, you’re safe, right?


The illogical appeal to reasoning isn’t uncommon, nor is it something about which to be ashamed. Understanding why we use irrational thinking and behave in unhelpful manners is the key to changing how we interface with the world.


The B-C connection


I openly express my criticism of social media platforms, as TikTok is my usual source of ire. Nonetheless, and by use of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), I realize that it isn’t TikTok—though my belief about the app—that leads to self-disturbance.


Using the ABC Model, I understand that the Belief-Consequence (B-C) connection—and not an Action-Consequence (A-C) connection—is how people disturb themselves. Still, and over the past year or so, I’ve observed how many people have clung to the A-C connection regarding TikTok.


Logically, the argument unfolds as follows:


Premise 1: All China-associated spying is bad.

Premise 2: TikTok is reportedly a China-owned spying app.

Conclusion: Therefore, TikTok is bad.


Thusly, the A-C connection erroneously follows:


Action – TikTok reportedly spies on U.S. citizens on behalf of China.


Consequence – Outrage over the app and demands for government to protect U.S. citizens from Chinese surveillance results.


The aforementioned logic is based on a moral appeal to emotion. The resulting A-C connection then follows an appeal to authority in order to remedy the perceived wrongdoing.


This is akin to the chorus of “Cell Therapy.” Because TikTok is “peeking in my window,” I need the government to take action (“pow!!”) so that “nobody now” can continue spying on me. Put this way, I can understand the illogical appeal of such argumentation.


However, as I encourage within my blog, “question everything.” At the core of uncomfortable mental and emotional processing, using the ABC Model, is disputation—the questioning of inflexible and unhelpful beliefs.


Firstly, is it true that there is an A-C connection at play? Arguably, China has spied on the U.S. long before TikTok was released to the public.


Were you disturbed by espionage about which you likely knew so little before the RESTRICT Act was widely promoted? Allowing me to be charitable to the possibility that you knew of the spying efforts of China, did our global competitor’s actions cause your emotions and behavior?


Rather than pretending China has more potentiality than it actually does, let us set up the proper chain of events using the B-C connection:


Action – TikTok reportedly spies on U.S. citizens on behalf of China.


Belief – No U.S. citizen should be spied on by a foreign country.


Consequence – Outrage over belief about the app results and demands for government to protect U.S. citizens from Chinese surveillance follows.


Because person A’s rigid demand is violated, he becomes outraged and then engages in advocacy from the censorious U.S. government. Thus, there was no A-C connection to begin with, was there?


Secondly, questioning the illogical argument is necessary. The conclusion, “TikTok is bad,” is based on a flawed premise—“All China-associated spying is bad.”


Far be it for me to defend Chinese spying. And…when the U.S. engages in similar espionage as China is accused of conducting—though our government does so through U.S.-based social media platforms—do I disavow such actions, as well? Yes.


Why would person A accept U.S. government overreach though panic when the Chinese government uses similar behavior? Is there an inherent bias underlying an appeal to authority relating to U.S. authoritarianism that excuses spying on our citizenry?


Without China-specific distinction, here is how person A’s logic may be appropriately adjusted:


Premise 2: Foreign and domestic governments spy on the U.S. citizenry.

Conclusion: Consequently, foreign and domestic espionage on U.S. citizens is unlawful.


While this readjusted logic is sound, it isn’t always—if ever—the case that the U.S. government will conduct its operations legally. Adapting logic and reasoning may still require further disputation of beliefs which arise in association with additional B-C connections.


The RESTRICT Act


Though championed as bipartisan anti-TikTok policy, per one source, the RESTRICT Act could also impact virtual private networks (VPNs) and cryptocurrency transactions. Suppose you aren’t fond of VPNs or cryptocurrency, what’s the big deal with sacrificing freedom for perceived safety?


According to a separate source, “The bill’s language includes vague terms such as ‘desktop applications,’ ‘mobile applications,’ ‘gaming applications,’ ‘payment applications,’ and ‘web-based applications.’ It also targets applicable software that has more than 1 million users in the U.S.”


Expansive policy such as this may as well be labeled the ANYTHING WE WANT IT TO INCLUDE Act. (Have fun attributing meaning to that acronym.)


One source went as far as to declare the RESTRICT Act as the “Patriot Act for the digital age.” While you may be comfortable with the Biden administration wielding this power, would you be equally complacent with a Trump administration retaining such authority?


Benjamin Franklin is credited with having stated, “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” This calls to mind CeeLo’s “Cell Therapy” verse.


The rapper begins by discussing the place in which he lives having a security gate installed. This is like the RESTRICT Act being introduced to the U.S. citizenry.


CeeLo stated that the claim for protective measures related to a “drug-free” community, though his observed evidence to the contrary was amply available. Likewise, supposed protection from espionage is promoted by RESTRICT, though it won’t restrict the U.S. government from continued spying on its citizens.


The rapper then referenced restrictive curfew measures and how a conspiracy theory relating the New World Order was at hand. Per one source that details this conspiratorial hypothesis (because a scientific “theory” it is not):


Social critics accuse governments, corporations, and the mass media of being involved in the manufacturing of a national consensus and, paradoxically, a culture of fear due to the potential for increased social control that a mistrustful and mutually fearing population might offer to those in power.


One may form one’s own suppositions about how the RESTRICT Act may or may not relate. All the same, CeeLo encouraged listeners to “get prepared.” Preparing one’s self for adversity, versus advocating a nanny state, is something I can appreciate.


The rapper suggests, “My mind won’t allow me to not be curious. My folk don’t understand, so they don’t take it serious,” which speaks to critical thinking (questioning) and how the uninitiated masses simply shrug off warranted concern. The South truly had something to say in 1995!


CeeLo ends his verse by commenting, “But every now and then, I wonder if the gate was put up to keep crime out or keep our ass in.” One also wonders if the RESTRICT Act is truly an anti-TikTok protector of liberty or perhaps yet another infringement upon U.S. freedom.


Time will reveal whether or not the Act lives up to its namesake—restricting the U.S. citizenry through doublespeak policy. Perhaps, after all, it won’t only be China peeking through the window.


Conclusion


I’m grateful for music of the Dungeon Family. In particular, “Cell Therapy” helped me during moments when my behavior in high school and in the Marine Corps placed me in questionable circumstances.


Rather than illogically appealing to authority or emotion, think about how I framed that last sentence. I take personal ownership of my behavior without outsourcing my protection to others who likely don’t share my values.


I recognize that the B-C connection is how I could disturb myself about potential threats to my safety and I question the irrationality of self-distressing beliefs. Are you prepared to peek into the window of your mind and…pow!!...dispute the nonsense you tell yourself?


Albert Ellis, originator or REBT, is credited with having stated, “There are three musts that hold us back: I must do well. You must treat me well. And the world must be easy.” You don’t have to be beholden to your irrational beliefs.


You have options. Perhaps you choose advocacy of governmental overreach, such as the RESTRICT Act. Maybe you unconditionally accept that you have little control in this life and instead focus on closing the mental drapes in an act of “brain cell therapy,” referenced by Khujo in “Cell Therapy.”


The choice is yours.


If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.


As a psychotherapist, and hip hop head from the old school, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.


At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!



Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW


Photo credit, James Porto, fair use



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