Censorship in music is a topic that has brought about much controversy in the past two decades. There have been many different arguments on the topic, however the question still remains as if it should be censored or it should not be censored.
Before you can form an opinion on this, you must hear both sides of the argument on this much-debated topic. Some people believe that music should be censored so all audiences can hear it without it containing any controversial lyrics. Others believe it should not be censored and musical artists should be able to speak, sing, rap, or rhyme freely without anyone censoring them.
“Whether a person finds a work obscene depends largely on his or her moral or religious beliefs. These views change with each generation and further complicate the censorship dilemma.” (Censorship by, Bradley Steffens page 97)
The quote above is very true. Religious or moral beliefs have a great influence on how a person feels about censorship, and as generations pass on the common beliefs on it may change. Right now, America is more uncensored than ever. However, things were very different a few generations ago.
Some people believe music should be censored. They believe some of the language musical artists use is vulgar, obscene, and crude. Also the fact that music is played on medias such as radio and television, which are free to listen to by all audiences, and there are many parents that would not wish for their kids to hear foul language. So on radio and televison any controversial language is either silenced, edited out by a soft sound, or some artists make two versions of their songs; one that is made for the artist’s album, which is uncensored; and one for televsion and radio with any controversial words change to be acceptable for all audiences. This does not include cable television, which can be audited by parents since the parents must order and pay for the channel to be viewed.
“Preventing or punishing speechis a clear violation of the First Amendment.”
(Censorship. Opposing Viewpoints by, Greehaven Press page 147). This quote here is the “battle cry” of many anti-censorship groups. When you really think about it, it is a violation of the First Amendment, which says: “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech or of the press”. The First Amendment guarantees the right to freedom of speech, and censorship is violating peoples’ rights to say whatever they want to say. It is sometimes difficult to understand when a child gets punished for using foul language meanwhile the child’s parents have the right to critiscize and petition the government whenever they feel the need to do so. Many musical artists feel that when they are forced to change lyrics their rights are being violated. In some artists’ songs they like to express their feelings towards somebody or something, and it hurts them to be censored because the new words implemented are not from his or her heart. They feel that they are being held down.
Due to the amendment made by our founding fathers I do not believe there will ever be an answer to the question whether or not music should be censored. The way I see it, it should not be censored. Many children often hear explicit language from older siblings or parents at an early age. They believe that since someone they look up to uses those words, they should too. Eventually, everyone will be exposed to language they do not find acceptable. Foul language is not permitted on medias such as television or radio because it is an all audience media. However, on albums the artist is allowed to use any words he or she sees fit.
“The vexing question, of course, is, Who should decide what you read or view- the church, the stateor you?” (War of Words: The Censorship Debate by George Beahm page xiii) In my opinion, the answer to that question is: you. Censorship on television channels such as Nickelodeon , or PBS is understandable due to the fact that mostly young children programming is broadcasted on those stations. However I find it unnecessary to censor stations generally viewed by older audiences. It is now a requirement by law for record companies to put stickers on tapes and compact discs that say: “Parental Advisory. Explicit Lyrics”. The reason that law was passed was because many angry mothers and fathers sued artists and/or record companies for releasing albums that contained explicit lyrics, and now their child goes and repeats their newly learned words to people such as their teachers, principals, and other friends who then spread word around to their parents. I would tend to believe that many of those parents used those same bad words in front of their children at one time or another. They probably did not say it to their face, but the fact still remains that the child heard his or her parents say those words, thus the child assumes it is normal to say that word. Many parents also complain that the art on music albums’ covers and insides. They argue saying that too is vulgar and should not be allowed.
I believe music should not be censored due to our First Amendment right. When a parent hears foul language on their child’s stero or television, they should not complain to the network or record company, they should complain to themselves. The government is doing all they legally can to protect the childrens’ young ears from the foul language that is out there. If a parent hears their child listening to foul language, they should not complain to anyone but themselves. If they do not wish for their child to hear foul language they should have supervised their children more closely. If they take their child to a record store and buy them a new tape or c.d., the parent should have listened to the music by him or herself and scan for anything questionable. If they don’t like the content, they can always return it to the store. This way they can be positive that their child is listening to music that is acceptable in their eyes.
In conclusion, censorship in music is wrong in my opinion. Artists should be allowed to say whatever they want. That is what our founding fathers based this country uopn: freedom. The government is doing an excellent job in making the First Amendment suitable for all. If parents have a problem with it, it is because they did not properly supervise their children.
Beahm, George. War of Words, Ed. George Beahm. Kansas City, MO 1993
Greenhaven Press. Censorship. Opposing Viewpoints, Ed. Lisa Orr. San Diego, CA
Steffens, Bradley. Censorship. Ed. Lucent Books