Rock Music and Violence

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Does the Effect of Rock Music Cause Violence?

Growing up listening to rock music was a part of my life, discovering from my older brother the band Kiss was just awesome and then later actually seeing them in concert when I was 15 was even better! So to me music is an essential part of life in America today. Millions of Americans listen to recordings from a variety of artists every day. Since the advent of Rock N' Roll, politicians, law enforcement, and several independent organizations have tried to convince America that music causes negative social impacts on youth. Of the social impacts that music is blamed for, violence is the most shocking. The assumption by the before mentioned groups, that music causes violence in American youth, is very debatable. I firmly believe that music doesn't at all cause violence. I on the other hand, argue that music reinforces certain feelings and incites emotion in the listener as it is intended to do. Music can't be blamed for acts of violence, because it isn't music or the music industry that shoots up a school. It is the children who are committing acts of violence. Music is meant to incite emotion and convey meaning not to cause violence.

Teenage Violence is a problem that plagues America’s children. Suicide and school shootings are two of the most visible and horrid forms of violence displayed by American children. Many parents have been quick to blame this violence on the music that violent children listen to. Although these songs may depict violent situations and feelings, the artists who are blamed for the violence intend the songs to incite an emotion in their listener, not violence. There are several cases in which a parent has sued a record company over an act of violence committed by they’re children. An example of this is the court case McCollum v. CBS, Inc. (1988) which was brought by the parents of John McCollum, who it was alleged, listened repeatedly to two Osborne albums, Blizzard of Oz and Diary of Madman, on the family's stereo before going into his bedroom and listening to a third album, Speak of the Devil, at which point he shot himself with a .22 caliber handgun. He was found dead the next morning as the phono cartridge sat on the still revolving turntable. McCollum had reportedly been listening to the song "Suicide Solution" before retiring to his bedroom. The plaintiffs contended that this song was the "proximate cause" of the young man's actions. The song's lyrics include the phrases, "Suicide is the only way out. Don't know what it's really about" (McCollum v. CBS, Inc. 249 Cal. Reporter 187 (1988).189-191). The truth in this case however is not that Ozzy caused John McCollum’s death. The causes of his death are much more complicated. The song in question didn’t glorify suicide at all. The song was written to point out the dangers of drinking alcohol in excess. The song related to Bon Scott of the group AC/DC who had drank himself to death. The song Suicide Solution was an anti suicide song, and was being blamed for a child’s death. John McCollum had problems that led him to suicide long before listening to Ozzy Osborne’s music. Music is not a cause, but an outlet for the suicidal or violent feelings a child might have. Another example of the problem of music being blamed for violence happened with the advent of Gangsta Rap in the early 90’s. In 1993 Ronald Ray Howard, an eighth grade drop-out, was convicted of shooting Texas State Trooper Bill Davidson. This teenager had been listening to the song "Sister Souljah," by Tupac Shakur. The songs' lyrics are: Cops on my tail they finally pull me over and I laugh. Remember Rodney King and I blast his punk ass.

The jury remained unconvinced that Howard's listening to the song caused him to commit an act of violence. Howard placed responsibility in Shakur for "pulling the trigger". He was convicted of the murder. Lyrics such as the lyrics to Ozzy Osborne’s Suicide Solution and 2Pac Shakur’s Sister...
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