Wiz's day: Pittsburgh honors an icon of a different sort

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Pittsburgh's cultural icons are a diverse lot. Some have been honored with statues, proclamations or bridges for their talents and contributions.

The late Fred Rogers was beloved for making WQED's "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" a template for friendly neighborhoods everywhere. Franco Harris remains a Steelers favorite not just for his Hall of Fame career but also his acts of community service. Chatham University alumna Rachel Carson launched the modern ecology movement. Then there are Andy Warhol, David McCullough and others.

We can add to this list rapper and Pittsburgh Allderdice High School graduate Wiz Khalifa, now that City Council has proclaimed today Wiz Khalifa Day. The performer, whose anthem "Black and Yellow" became one of the most memorable new tunes of 2010, has been atop the Billboard charts. Since his breakout year, he's toured the world, building audience and making albums.

But like Willie Nelson and Bill Maher, Wiz Khalifa is a celebrity advocate for marijuana use. He has even been arrested for illegal possession. For that reason, some are outraged about council's proclamation.

Nevertheless, Wiz Khalifa is a talented and popular musician who promotes his hometown around the world. Does every cultural icon have to be a children's role model? This is Pittsburgh, after all, not Disneyland.

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