First Amendment and Music Censorship

Essay by aznXsa2587 May 2006

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The First Amendment to the Bill of Rights exists because the Founders of our country understood the importance of free expression. The First Amendment states "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press . . ." (Commission on the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution 17). One of the ways the American people use this freedom of speech and expression is through the creation of the art form known as music. Music's verbal expression bonds our society through our emotions and experiences. This fundamental right of freedom of expression is being threatened by public and governmental groups who believe they have authority to monitor and decide what others should experience. The censorship of music lyrics is a violation of our First Amendment right, and public groups should not be allowed to bypass this right to censor obscene lyrics produced in the music industry.

Through the decades, artists such as Elvis Presley, The Beatles, and The Rolling Stones have raised controversy over their seemingly explicit acts that are now viewed as legendary. Parents banned their children from watching Elvis Presley and his outrageous hip movements though today these moves are copied by Britney Spears, pop groups, and dancers all over the world. In 1956, Ed Sullivan deemed Elvis "unfit for a family audience." However, in 1970 Elvis met the President in the Oval Office, and now his face appears on a postage stamp (RIAA; History 2 of 4). On June 15, 1966, The Beatles released their album Yesterday...and Today featuring a shocking cover with the foursome surrounded by raw meat and butchered baby dolls. Immediately the album was withdrawn from music shelves everywhere and returned only with a new approved cover, now the original copy is worth thousands of dollars. Today Beatlemania...