Should Rap Music Be Censored?

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Should Rap Music Be Censored?

By | December 2011
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Rap Music: Should It Be Censored?
The question of censorship, though it may seem a simple question, does not have a simple answer and must be contemplated with careful analysis. First and foremost, elements of the question itself must be defined, including what, where, and how. In this paper, rap music will be defined as “gansta rap”, rap music notorious for common themes such as drug dealing, violence, profanity, misogyny, and homophobia. The area in question for censorship will be limited to the United States. Censorship itself is defined as the “official prohibition or restriction of any type of expression believed to threaten the political, social, or moral order” (Downs). With roots as far back as the Roman Empire, censorship has been a key instrument and characteristic of autocratic and heavily centralized governments. But does our democratic government, which prides itself for its constitutional personal freedoms, have the justification necessary to censor rap music? It is my opinion that rap music should, in some form or another, be censored; however, it should be censored for the sole purpose of protecting the youth. According to John Stuart Mill, British philosopher of the mid 19th century whose work On Liberty was and continues to be highly influential, “the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.” This concept has been dubbed the “Harm Principle”. The debate, however, is defining what exactly is considered harm, whether it constitutes censorship of rap music. In my mind, there are two stages of harm: the kind that is evident immediately (physical) and the kind that is apparent only after time (moral). If a person is thus harmed, then the perpetrator’s sovereignty over self is impaired because sovereignty is exercised either through action or judgment. For those who have sovereignty over self, the act of simply listening to rap music does not...

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