Music Censorship: a Violation of Artistic Expression

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Music Censorship: A Violation of Artistic Expression
Brandi Yaeger
University of Phoenix

What if you were told that you could no longer listen to your favorite song anymore because the message that it sends does not conform to someone else’s way of thinking? What reasons are given for the censoring of music, or why have musicians been tortured, jailed, exiled or even killed? Why have certain forms of music been silenced? Music is an expression of ideas and emotions that reflect hopes, dreams and aspirations not only for the artist creating the music but in the listener as well. Music has been used as a form of expression of thoughts and emotions for centuries. People in power sometimes view these expressions conflicting to their current way of thinking what is proper lyrical content or negating to current governing practices. The implementation of music censorship has been done by governments, religions, educational systems and even families. In most cases this censorship is a violation of international conventions of human rights, (Freemuse.org). George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), said “All censorships exist to prevent anyone from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All Progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.” (Freemuse.org). Although music censorship is imposed for various reasons, music is a form of artistic expression and censorship violates the artist's human right of expression.

Music expresses thoughts and ideas that have the power to inspire the listener in many different ways. An artist creates a lyric or music that expresses their ideals, aspirations or is a reflection of their life experiences. Music has been used to express religious views and inspire patriotism giving the feeling of hope and pride. Religions have used music for many, many years in order to teach about beliefs and faith. Happiness, laughter, anger, sorrow and aggression are some of the emotions inspired in the listener when they hear a song, these emotions have the power to lift a person’s spirits when they are feeling down or give them strength to get through a difficult time in their life. Music has the power to bring back a memory of a certain time and place in someone’s life that creates an emotional connection between that specific song and that specific experience in that person’s life. People have used music as a coping mechanism in their lives to relate to the past or propel them into their future by giving a way of relating to how they are feeling or the situation that they are currently experiencing. There have been claims that certain types of music are to blame for juvenile delinquency, teenage pregnancy and teen suicide, (Crigger, 2007). Music has been blame for many different types of wrongful acts that have resulted in mayhem or destruction.

Music censorship has been implemented by many different groups such as governments, religions, families, educators, and retailers. Lyrical content is usually the basis of such censorship. Political statements that oppose the opinions of the government or reflect ideas different than those of the current regime are targeted for censorship. Media outlets use censorship as a way to drive popular opinion by playing the music that is determined popular more than the music that is not considered as popular. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) maintains that after an extensive study of the marketing plans, media companies do aggressively market products with “mature” content to children and that it is frustrating to parents that are attempting to protect their children from inappropriate material. Governments use censorship ban or censor certain lyrics because the statements made can cause public resistance in their leadership. Some governments have jailed and even exiled artists for their adverse...
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