So it would seem the venerable hip-hop group was merely ridiculing first responders for dilly dallying. Got it. The bottomline: Public Enemy may be
reckless and mean spirited edgy, but they're not insensitive, As it happens 911 is a Joke is from their 1990 album Fear of a Black Planet
The other take-away here is that one character can make a world of a difference.The addition of an errant slash mark transforms 911 to 9/11. The piece in the Washington Post left the impression that PE had heartlessly denigrated a tragedy that actually occurred 11 years after the song debuted. Notably, it took WaPo a week to set the record straight.
Also, even assholes who will say anything about anything to get attention (See: Beck, Glenn; Flav, Flavor...et. al.) agree that 9/11 was anything but a joke.
While we're on the subject (and because no one else is blogging), another one-character gaffe is "now" instead of "not" (or visa versa). In the 80's as a reporter covering the Consumer Electronics Show, I once wrote "Sony said it will not introduce VCRs in the VHS format." It was published as "Sony said it will now introduce ..." The Sony flack was furious. (At the time, this was like saying PETA was getting ready to sell mink coats.) My magazine ran a correx but It turned out to be an inadvertent scoop: The company that pioneered the Beta format ultimately relented and added VHS hardward to its product assortment. So, unlike the Washington Post, I was right. (For other memorable correxs, including one by NYT 49 years after the fact, go here.)