Censorship Of Music


Recently we have been hearing a lot about the need for censorship of television
and recording industries. Whether it is the cartoon Beavis and Butthead, the
controversial television drama NYPD Blue or rap recording artists, someone
always seems to arguing about their negative effects on society and the need for
government regulation. Being a fan of rap, I am particularly interested in
issues effecting regulation of the recording industry and rap artists. Popular
"gangsta rappers" include Dr. Dre, Snoop Doggy Dog, Tupac Shakur, Ice

Cube, and Ice Tea. Many are outraged at the explicit lyrics of the songs and the
lifestyles of these artists. Snoop Doggy Dog and Tupac Shakur are two of the
most publicized "gansta rappers" whose songs contain explicit lyrics
and who have been indicted for criminal activities. Snoop Doggy dog is a native
of Long Beach, California. His mother named him Snoopy because of his long face
and droopy ears. Growing up, Snoop was a member of the Golgotha Trinity Baptist
youth choir and an excellent basketball player. However , shortly after his
graduation from high school, he landed in jail for possession of cocaine.

Recently Snoop was arrested for murder. On August twenty- fifth Snoop was
driving his late model Jeep in Palms, California. He met up with Philip Woldemar
iam, who according to Snoop's attorney, had a long history of threatening Snoop.

Snoop's bodyguard shot Woldermariam twice in the back, killing him. On December
eighth, Snoop was arraigned for murder, but later found innocent. Many of the
lyrics i n Snoop's songs degrade women, encourage the use of marijuana and
glorify violence against authority. Another publicized case involves rapper

Tupac Shakur. Many know him for his starring role in the movie "Poetic

Justice" with Janet Jackson. Tupac Shakur's song "Keep Ya Head

Up" contains such lyrics as "I wonder why we take from our women Why
we rape our women Do we hate our women? I think it's time we care for our women

Time to heal our women." Despite the lyrics encouraging men to respect
women, Shakur was recently arrested for sexually abusing a woman in a midtown
hotel. This arrest came two weeks after Shakur was arrested for allegedly
shooting two off duty police officers after a traff ic dispute in Atlanta.

Proponents of rap feel that all rappers are protected under the first amendment.

They also feel that rap is a cultural art form, reflecting ghetto life and that
criticism of rap is another form of racism. One of the men who has been
influential in speaking out against "gangsta rap", its explicit lyrics
and unworthy role models is the Reverend Jesse Jackson. Jackson states,"

Anyone, white or black, who makes money calling our women bitches and our people
niggers will have to face the wrath of our indignation." The Reverend

Calvin Butts, the minister of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, has also
mounted a crusade against explicit music. Last summer he held a rally at which
he ran over offending tapes and CDs with a steamrolle r. The vice- president of
the United States wife, Tipper Gore, has launched her own crusade. In her book,

Raising PG Kids in an X-rated Society , she takes the music industry to task for
glamorizing sex and violence in material targeted to kids. She has encouraged
record companies to label all albums and tapes that have sexually explicit
lyrics. Also, radio stations such a KACE-FM in Los Angeles are adopting policies
to ban all songs that degrade women or promote drugs and violence. To determine
the views of students here on the need for censorship of the recording industry,

I conducted a survey which posed the following questions: 1. Do you listen to

Rap music? Seventy percent of the respondents indicated that they listened to

Rap music on a regular basis. 2. Do you own any Rap CDs or tapes with explicit
lyrics? Forty percent of those surveyed indicated that thy did. 3. Do you think

Rap lyrics are a bad influence on society? Seventy-five percent believed that
the lyrics had a negative influence on society. 4. Do you think that the
government should censor Rap recordings? Only five percent of the respondents
believed it was the government's responsibity to censor Rap. One thing is clear
and that is that there are strong opinions on both sides of the issue. In my
opinion, the worst solution would be to allow the government to legislate what
can be written, what TV shows can be aired and what music can be produced. I
believe the consumers and producers should be charged with the ultimate
responsibility of censorship. Consumers are free to boycott literature, records
and programs that they deem unacceptable and producers will be quick to respond
when profits are diminished.