By Kyle Anderson
Updated May 11, 2011 at 08:21 PM EDT
Credit: Dan Steinberg/AP Images

Common is about the least controversial rapper in the business. He’s roughly as edgy as LeVar Burton. He’s the rap version of Wayne Brady. He’s a friendly, easy-going, cross-cultural musician and actor who stars in easygoing rom-coms with Queen Latifah, only appears menacing to Tina Fey and Steve Carrell on celluloid, and is typically the first person mentioned whenever anybody brings up the concept of a “conscious” MC.

But don’t tell that to FOX News and Sarah Palin.

They and other conservative outlets are expressing outrage today that the Chicago-born artist (born Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr.) will be a guest at the White House tonight as part of an evening celebrating poetry, hosted by Michelle Obama.

Sean Hannity took umbrage with an anti-Bush verse Common laid down during a Def Poetry event in 2007, and his guests on Tuesday night also said that inviting him to the White House sets a bad example. Even Palin weighed in on the matter.

Has Common used language that some people find offensive? Of course. What musician hasn’t? But more importantly, should Common really be considered “vile,” which is an adjective used by Fox News? Certainly not.

Common is a smart guy who uses his music to talk about complicated ideas and the vagaries of modern life. Few rappers talk about personal relationships and social injustice as astutely as Common, and his deeply-considered work is the sort of stuff that should be inspiring young people (especially those interested in poetry).

He has also worked for organizations benefiting education, animal rights and AIDS awareness, and has even publicly pledged to stop using anti-gay references in his lyrics. All rappers should aspire to be this “vile.”

What do you think? Has Fox News officially run out of things to complain about? And is it possible they could have found a more appropriate target for their ire? Sound off in the comments below.