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Imagine, if you will, a world where we are told what music to sing, what music to play, and even what we may listen to in the privacy of our own homes. That world already exists as a reality in more countries that you might imagine, and that very reality is knocking on our door: In the USA, lobbying groups have succeeded in keeping popular music off the concert stage, out of the media, and off of the shelves.
Of course, if presented with this contingency, any one of us would declare how horrible this reality would be. Why then, do we hear about citizens and organizations fearfully protesting the apparently-so-inalienable right to express ourselves though music.
As a society we want our young people to be literate, thoughtful, and caring human beings, however we also attempt to control what they read, listen to, and see–and ultimately what they think and care about. One can understand the instinct to need to “protect" children from dangerous or disturbing ideas and information, but this combination of the multiplicity of values and the concern for young people’s minds keeps censorship alive in school, public libraries, and other common places.
“We favor music censorship? No, that’s not true,” says Wendy Wright of an organization, Concerned Women for America, on the enemy list of virtually all other anti-censorship supporters. “Censorship means that the government restrains speech. We are in favor of those in the music industry using common sense: In essence, that they don’t promote behavior or activities that they wouldn’t want committed against their wife or children.” CWFA sees music the music in question as having potential to cultivate certain ideas in the minds of the youth.“The argument that it does not affect kids, that it does not promote similar behavior, is ridiculous. If that were true, they would not advertise or rely on marketing – both fields depend on the fact that humans can be enticed into doing something that they wouldn’t have thought up on their own.”
In our community, there are mixed views about this issue just as there are in the wider world setting where this conflict is now unfolding:
“I think there should definitely be some censorship, like with the movies where there is a rating system. The music that’s out now is too graphic for younger kids to be listening too and its beginning to evidently corrupt our society.
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Still other members of the community don’t support the idea of outside intervention or censorship in any form with the establishment of rating systems, etc. “I don't think you can restrict who buys the music. Parents should be responsible for what their younger kids hear or do not hear. But for kids our age, we should be unbarred from listening to whatever we want.” says Julie Warner (‘06).
Each person will choose a position based on his or her own beliefs and circumstances. Is there a viable correlation between violent crime, racism, suicide, and today’s music–proof that some censorship is warranted–or should scapegoating artistic expression as a cause of social ills be considered simplistic? This argument, as a matter of legality and constitutionality–morality and personal preference, seems as if it will continue to endure for years and years to come.