Rapper-singer Nicki Minaj, English singer Ed Sheeran and comedian Marlon Wayans should be thankful for being able to perform in a country allowing free speech.

After their recent July Fourth performance in Philadelphia, many feel they totally abused that right.

During a pre-fireworks concert last Friday, they used the kind of obcenity-laced jokes and song lyrics that certainly shamed the family-friendly celebration. There were many children among the thousands gathered at the Art Museum for the concert.

Hearing an occasional swear word in a song lyric is one thing, but the constant stream of cursing – with a barrage of f-bombs – turned what should have been a festive evening into a total embarrassment for the city. Even the ABC affiliate that broadcast the concert tried to bleep out the profanities when hip-hopper Black Thought began swearing up a storm at the start of the show. It got so bad they decided to cut out the entire transmission and switched to the station logo until it was safe to return.

To her credit, Jennifer Hudson, the Academy Award-winning actress and a Grammy Award-winning recording artist, delivered a classy, profanity-free performance.

Hours after the show ended, Mayor Michael Nutter apologized to anybody in the audience who was offended but he also pointed out they were free to go. He said concert organizers are contractually obligated to make the free concert suitable for families and that the city will work to make next year's "Welcome America" concert more family-friendly.

These "artists" can be glad they weren't in Russia, where a new law recently went into effect that outlaws cursing in public performances, including films, music, books and plays. Individuals caught swearing face fines up to $70. It's worse for public officials, who must pay a $140 fine for every f-bomb. Organizations or companies must pay $1,396 per swear and face a suspension for repeated offenses.

According to a statement by the Russian government the new law "bans the use of obscene language when ensuring the rights of Russian citizens to the use of the state language, and protecting and developing language culture."

The Fourth of July celebration is a family time with parades, music and fireworks being a big part of the public displays. In a civil society, we don't need to hear "entertainers" swearing to try to be cool or to disrespect other people.

Those who feel these are "just words" should realize that those rotten lyrics can have an impact on impressionable young minds.

By Jim Zbick

editor@tnonline.com