Social Issues / Censorship


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Autor:  anton  12 November 2010
Tags:  Censorship
Words: 856   |   Pages: 4
Views: 224

Censorship: Banning music lyrics

Walking on the streets, you are subjected to a barrage of popular music, from the likes of Usher’s latest rap, to the dark Marilyn Manson’s latest album, “Lest we forget,” a naked, crucified man slapped on the cover of the CD. His latest songs include, “The Death Song,” and “Suicide is painless.” You cannot help but feel a certain lurch in your stomach upon hearing the lyrics of those songs. For example, how would Manson know whether suicide is painless if he is still alive and singing about it? Yet, just because people’s sense of morals are different from one another does not mean one should deprive another the right of voicing their opinion.

The issue of the censorship of music lyrics is nothing new. It is an issue that arouse during the 50’s and still dominates the music industry today. We, as human beings, express ourselves everyday, but never before can people express themselves to so many other minds in such a brief time. The ideas and thoughts people have and share are broad, and people are perfectly entitled to feel and think the way they see fit. Certain aspects of society frown upon thoughts and ideas that go against established morals because our society is built on morals based on the Bible. However, people are inclined to think differently, and it is understandable if some people feel offended upon hearing remarks about the maltreatment of women or animals in songs. Those offended have a simple choice – they need not listen.

Under a false-veil of kindness, pro-censorship groups claim to be striving for censorship for the protection of today’s youth. Indeed, it is acknowledged that the incidents at Columbine and a recent shooting that revealed the killer listening to Manson before the shooting gave explicit music a bad name. However, explicit music also acts as a deterrent for teenagers not to commit juvenile acts, because it distracts teenagers from potentially committing criminal acts. The overwhelming pressures that burden today’s teenagers because of the volume of school work, social and family pressures sometimes destabilizes teenagers, and it is vital that they have an artificial world in which they can, “relieve their minds,” from this overwhelming pressure. Furthermore, without concrete evidence that links explicit music lyrics to domestic and youth violence, arguing for the protection of today’s youth cannot be slated as a valid argument for censorship. Already, CDs have a Parental Guidance: Explicit Content label attached, but it doesn’t prove detrimental to the CD in any way, in retail sales or its reputation. In fact, the label acts as a “come-and-get-me” plea to teenagers, the label acts as an indicator that it is, “rebellious” music, and teenagers and the need to rebel go hand in hand.

Nowadays, we are exposed to more music in a day than any other art form, perhaps barring advertisements. We all use music in the most significant and most mundane of our activities, both to focus intense feelings and to distract us from the occasional dullness of life. When we are feeling depressed and angry about life, perhaps just dumped by your loved one, and you hear Eminem rambling about killing his girlfriend, we feel inclined to agree and get on with life. It must be acknowledged that in extreme cases, these provocative lyrics are unfortunately acted upon. But there has yet to be a definite relationship between the type of music one listens to and to extreme criminal incidents. While pro-censorship groups justify their actions based on provocative potential, their actions completely disregard music’s demonstrated evocative nature. Impede music, and you inhibit people’s ability for self-realization. It is what makes us human. Music, in its most fundamental sense, is freedom. We have the freedom to be free, no one can revoke that.

The First Amendment of the American Constitution, as well the UN charter for human rights guarantees freedom of speech. It states,

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression, this rights include… expressing ideas through any media regardless of frontiers,”

(Article 18 – 24 of the UN & Human rights)

Society has a responsibility to uphold these rights. Provocative music lyrics stand at the periphery of this notion of freedom of speech, and if people don’t like them, they should not hear them – they have a choice.

Pro-censorship groups have commonly tried to suppress ideas, rather than refute them with better ones. Rarely has censorship evoked a positive response on those whose ideas have been censored. The world community is getting larger, and no longer can the fabric of society can be based on a single, supposedly common, view. Even then, the advancement of communication technology makes censorship a formidable task, as the Chinese government is finding. The Internet acts as a hub for the transfer of information across the world in milliseconds, and it will cause uncensored songs to pop up in different parts of the world even though censorship is implemented, thus negating the censorship acts. Let Eminem, Manson and 50 Cent bitch about death and violence all they want; whether their views are right or not, is an entirely different question.

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