Friday, October 29, 2010

Music Censorship

Because the First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech, some opponents of music censorship believe that the courts can force a store to sell albums its management deems objectionable or forbid groups from burning records. The Supreme Court, however, can only step in if someone appeals a government decision, rather than a community one, to censor music; such appeals rarely reach the highest court in the land, since individual state governments can devise their own obscenity laws and penalties for violating them. Fighting censorship thus poses a catch-22, as musicians and concerned citizens can’t deny a school’s right to ban a concert on its premises and would face an uphill battle overturning a state’s mandates on decency.

Music censorship first reared its head in the 1950s, when rock and roll’s growing influence threatened white, middle-class values. The 1960s saw the FBI’s involvement in musician’s personal and political lives, as officials began keeping tabs on Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, and John Lennon. Song references to sex and drugs tormented censors throughout the ‘60s and ‘70s, eventually giving way to hysteria over lyrics promoting suicide and devil worship in the 1980s.

In 1985, the Parents Music Resource Center, led by a cadre of politicians’ wives, called for the recording industry to place Parental Advisory stickers on potentially offensive albums. Instead of quelling concerns, the stickers unleashed a barrage of state laws that required retailers to regulate distribution or pay the price (a hefty fee or even jail time). In the meantime, the banned albums benefited from the notoriety. Ultimately, community and federal censors have threatened civil liberties while entangling their organizations in a costly fight to maintain an ambiguous definition of decency. My opinion is that there should be no law to require music to be censored but it should just be an option to either the artist or the label.

1 comment:

  1. I think there should be a law that requires some music to be censored. One because some of the lyrics in songs today and back in the old days do contain content that is not suitiable for children. Like when songs talk about sex, drugs, and domestic violence, children should not hear that. I feel that they should not have any knowledge of those types of things until they hit puberty because that is around the time when children start to mature and they may become curious about those things, which is when the parents should step in and talk to them about it.

    I also think that there should be a law censoring some types of music, because if you left it up to many of the artist and record labels they really wouldn't care. One reason would probably be because they feel that as long as their making money and people are buying their album why should they really care. They would also probably feel that if parents don't want their kids listening to that type of music then that should be their responsibility to censor it. But many people know just like I do that it kind of doesn't matter what parents do, kids are going to find some kind of way to listen to their music, whether right up under their parents nose, at their friends house, on the radio, or even at school, kids are going to find a way to hear it and if its not censored then they will definitly hear obscene things.