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Censorship

Essay by   •  December 24, 2010  •  Essay  •  1,687 Words (7 Pages)  •  1,113 Views

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Imagine the world without music. Or imagine a world where we are told what to play, what to sing and even what we may listen to in the privacy of our own homes. Basically, this already exists with the growing of censorship in the United States and across the world. Censorship is defined as examining and removing obscene or objectionable material from a generated work of art. Also, Obscene or objectionable is defined as acts, utterances, or items deemed contrary to public standards of sexual and religious morality. But the question is whether the material is actually "obscene or objectionable" and whether the artists' rights are in violation? All citizens of the United States are protected by the first amendment which states: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. So, if every citizen of the United States is protected by this right of having freedom of speech, why are artists being censored?

In addition, like all other human beings, every individual musician is protected by a number of human rights. He or she has the right to freedom of association, freedom of religion, to family and private life, to food, housing and education, etc. - all according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. All human rights are as important for musicians as they are for everyone else. However, two of these rights are of special importance for musicians: the freedom of expression and the right to participate in cultural life. Together, these two offer a special protection of musicians against censorship and persecution. Music involves an unlimited number of possibilities for human beings to express themselves. Lyrics can bring detailed messages of love, hate, fear, violence, etc. A melody in itself can communicate joy, hope, sorrow, a dramatic event, a special mood or a sound image of everyday life. All of these different expressions fall under the protection of the freedom of expression in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 19.

As a result of censorship, many believe it is actually a good thing and is a benefit to society. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), states that music which depicts indecency will be censored. According to the FCC, indecency is defined as language or material that, in context, depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium, sexual or excretory activities.

Censorship can eliminate indecent material from being broadcasted into society's ears. For instance, in the horrific event involving the teenage student, who used a firearm on his fellow students at Columbine High School in Colorado, some believe his interest in Rock music lead to his negative influence on society.

There are also groups that are for the banning of lyrics in music. The Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) is an American committee formed in 1985 by the wives of several congressmen. They included Tipper Gore (wife of Senator and later Vice President Al Gore); Susan Baker, wife of Treasury Secretary James Baker; and Nancy Thurmond, wife of Senator Strom Thurmond. Their mission is to educate parents about "alarming trends" in popular music. They claimed that rock music encouraged/glorified violence, drug use, suicide, criminal activity, etc. and sought the censorship and/or rating of music. As a method of stopping the influences on teenagers, the PMRC suggested labeling records that contained "explicit lyrics or content". They said that it was a method of warning parents of dangerous material before their children listened to it. They pressured the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) into requiring that labels be put on all records containing explicit content. At first, the RIAA resisted the pressure. But on November 1, 1985, before the hearing even ended, the RIAA agreed to put labels on those records containing what the PMRC saw as explicit content. Many record stores refused to sell albums containing the label, and others limited the sale of those albums to minors. The label became known as the "Tipper sticker". Some politicians attempted to criminalize the sale of explicit records to minors, and others went so far as to try to ban such records.

In addition, Wal-mart, which is known for it's "family values", now only sells censored music material. Thus, you are not likely to find many CDs at Wal-Mart by artists such as Papa Roach, Disturbed, Nine Inch Nails, Eminem, P. Diddy or Dr. Dre. If you do find any there, they will be censored and bleeped out. That's because Wal-Mart feels that objectionable lyrics on CDs are bad and do not reflect Wal-Mart's "family values".

On the contrary, many music fans believe that PMRC, Wal-mart, and the FCC, are just trying to take away their right to listen and make music with their freedom of speech.

Artists have the freedom of expression which is included in Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It states in a judgment from 1988 the Court observed, that "Those who create, perform, distribute or exhibit works of art contribute to the exchange of ideas and opinions which is essential for a democratic society." For musicians, freedom of expression particularly implies: Freedom to play music in public as well as in private, Freedom to give concerts, Freedom to release CDs (regardless of which expressions or points of view may be expressed by the lyrics or music itself.)

In June, 1996, after being prohibited to hold "new music" concerts, The Boston Phoenix and WFNX publicly recognized the principle that music is a form of artistic expression, and that it enjoys the free-speech guarantees historically embedded in the Massachusetts state constitution and the US constitution. To ban one type of expression is to deny an entire class of people access to a public space. Running through this debate was a sour undercurrent of discrimination. Opponents of the new-music concerts too often suggested, subtly or explicitly, that they just don't

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