Dave Root English Composition Essay #3 10.18.00 Censor This Why is it that when a person that listens to music that may promote violence and contains "objectionable" lyrics does a bad thing, families are quick to point out that it was external materials such as the music that influenced the person to do it? This is the controversy over music censorship. Music censorship is the attempt or action taken by any agency to limit or hold back anything in music that a community may find offensive to its beliefs or values.
Musicians are artists, and often their music reflects the life that they are exposed to. I have to hear about a painting or sculpture being censored because it may seem objectionable. Under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, it reads as follows: "Congress shall make no law representing an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or of the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and petition the government for a redress of grievances."
In other words, the First Amendment states that it is illegal for the Government to censor an artist. The First Amendment doesn't apply to censorship by record companies, community groups, or radio stations - that's why censorship still exists. The Amendment protects a musician's ability to freely express their views on people and the world around us. When censors target music, they don't usually concern themselves with artistic intention, but rather spend their time trying to prove that it is obscene. If censors successfully demonstrate that a work of art is obscene (lacking in serious social, artistic, literary or scientific value) that work can be subject to legal censorship. If the censor is a private business (not affiliated with the government), it can censor anything it likes for any reason it chooses, such as Wal-mart's decision to ban CDs with a "Parental Advisory" sticker. Therefore music censorship isn't entirely illegal.
Wal-Mart and other large department stores sell CDs by artists that are not what the artists originally created. Some retailers refuse to carry CDs with "Parental Advisory Stickers", a few also go as far as to make it known to labels and artists that if the CD comes to their shelves with a "dirty" word, a "controversial" cover, or an "explicit" lyric, it will not be allowed on their shelves.
Music censorship has been around, in one form or another, since music became an organized art form. Most of what we know as music censorship started with the development and popularity of rock and roll in the early 1950s.
1956 is considered the first year for censoring music in the radio. ABC radio began by banning all of its network affiliates to play Billie Holiday's song "Love for Sale" because of its prostitution theme. ABC also was responsible for a lyric change in Cole Porter's "I Get a Kick Out of You" in which the lyric "I get no kick from cocaine" was changed to "I get perfume from Spain." NBC and CBS radio networks joined ABC in banning a novelty hit by Dot and Diamond called "Transfusion" because, according to an NBC executive, "there's nothing funny about a blood transfusion." In 1993, Wal-Mart and K-mart refused to stock Nirvana's sophomore album, In Utero, because they found the cover art and one of the songs offensive. Shortly after the record became the number one selling album in the country, the mass merchandisers decide to carry the album with their own "enhancements." The album's cover art was subdued and the title of the offensive song, Rape Me, was changed to Waif Me. The original lyrics were not changed, however.
In 1998, 18-year-old Eric Van Hoven is suspended from Zeeland High School in Michigan for wearing a T-shirt that promoted the band KoRn, even though the shirt contained no images or words except the band's name.