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Censorship In Music

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"Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech."(United States Constitution) However, it seems almost everywhere; many forms of art are being unfairly censored. One such form that is often overlooked as art is music. "Music is probably the most censored of all art forms"(The Economist; p 73) There are hundreds of artists who have been unfairly censored, ranging from popular music from artists such as Eminem, 2 Live Crew, and NWA, to classical music, such as Mozart's Figaro. However unfair and unconstitutional this censorship is, the fact is that questionable music and lyrics are encouraging impressionable young children to follow their messages. Rappers like DMX or NWA, preaching gang violence often are "the straw that breaks the camel's back," and finally pushes a child looking for guidance into the world of gangs. The truth is that these children need to be protected from the harsh realities of the world surrounding them, but is censoring music the right way to do it?

"No corporation can exist without authority of government. Government shouldn't allow corporations that infect and contaminate the minds of children to be allowed to exist." (Dr. C. Delores Tucker before senate subcommittee). This is one solution that seems to make good sense to many to support the censorship of music. Music of artists such as NWA, who urges their listeners

to say, "F*ck the Police," or Eminem, who says he'll "Kill You," surround children, especially in urban areas. This type of music encourages children to get into drugs and gang violence. In the past eight years, the period in which "gangsta" rap has been heavily promoted, teenage drug use has increased more than four-fold (Dr. C Delores Tucker). The government is the underlying power that allows corporations to send messages like these to children, and the government is the only resource we can use to stop it. "Young people often look to performing artists for moral guidance and inspiration as well as entertainment, but when these artists glorify guns and beatings they are injecting poison into the veins of America's future" (Coretta Scott King). This argument is not isolated to urban areas, or rap music. In fact, hard rock groups have been blamed as the cause of several school shootings. The shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton Colorado was attributed to the music of Marilyn Manson. The most recent shooting blamed on occurred

in Santee California; the alleged shooter had said that he was listening to Linkin Park's album, Hybrid Theory the night before the shooting.

In 1985, Tipper Gore, wife of former Vice President Al Gore, as well as many other concerned parents came together to create the Parents' Music Resource Center. Mrs. Gore quickly became one of the leading figures in the fight against obscene lyrics in popular music. Soon thereafter, the PMRC began campaigning to let parents everywhere know that the music their children were listening to was depraved. The PMRC, as well as representatives from the recording studios, testified before the senate. They reached a compromise, in which the music would not be altered, however, there would be a label that read "Parental Advisory, Explicit Lyrics" adorning the covers of albums that the PMRC found harmful to children.

The 1973 Supreme Court decision Miller v. California gave local government control over music they found to be obscene. The first arrest made based on this court decision was against Luther Campbell, leader of the group 2 Live Crew, in 1990; during a concert in Miami Florida, after the group had performed their song "Nasty as We Want To Be," authorities went on stage and arrested him. However, this did not work out in the PMRC's favor; the controversy of the arrest sent 2 Live Crew's sales skyrocketing, and in 1992, the group appealed the court decision and was given back the right to sing their song.

Although there seems to be so much good to be gained from censoring controversial artists, we are in essence taking away their fundamental right of freedom of speech; if

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