Some parents might think Chris Brown
is slime, but Nickelodeon is letting kids decide for themselves.
Despite an onslaught of criticism, the tween-friendly cable network says it has no plans to remove the embattled R&B singer as a contender for the 2009 Kids' Choice Awards after being charged
for allegedly beating up Rihanna
"The kids who vote will ultimately decide who wins in the category," Nickelodeon said in a statement Tuesday.
Brown, 19, is up for Favorite Male Singer and Favorite Song for "Kiss Kiss."
But it was the bang bang of two felony counts last Thursday-assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury and making criminal threats during the couple's Feb. 8 confrontation
-that began to draw criticism toward Nickelodeon.
The backlash exploded a day later, when a message appeared on his MySpace blog
lobbying young fans to vote Brown. A group called Twittermoms immediately launched an online petition
demanding the network nix Brown from the ballot.
"We are appalled [sic] that Chris Brown and Rhianna [sic] are still listed as a nominees on the Nickelodeon Kid's Choice Awards show. Brown's name should have been removed from contention the moment the charges were filed," reads the petition, which has already tallied 3,000-plus signatures.
"Making things worse is that his victim, Rhianna [sic], also a nominee, refused a no-contact order and plans to continue the relationship in spite of a violent attack by Brown. Had she made the rational decision to accept the no-contact order and end the relationship, she would not be named in this petition!
"While we don't think public figures are expected to always act responsibly in the name of being a role-model, this situation is unacceptable on both sides. To say that either of these people setting a suitable example to be held up as 'winners' is preposterous."
While Nickelodeon declined to comment specifically on the petition, an unnamed Viacom executive was quoted in the Chicago Sun-Times
saying he's "never seen anything like it."
"The words I'd use to describe the situation [i.e., the flood of angry phone calls and emails] are overwhelming and swamped," the official told the newspaper, noting the complaints have even reached the ear of Viacom honcho Sumner Redstone.
The 22nd Annual Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards ceremony is set to take place in Los Angeles on March 28.
Brown remains free after posting $50,000 bail; his arraignment is set for April 6.
In the meantime, he and Rihanna, 21, began their reconciliation two weeks ago at Diddy's Miami mansion
and are even recording a duet together
, which he hopes to include on a new album
, expected to drop later this year.