Who Should Decide What We Censor?

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Many people may not know their rights as they are set forth in the Constitution. For those who do know all of their rights, many have not experienced the feeling of the government telling them that they cannot speak their mind. This is covered by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. It is the freedom of speech. There has been at least one major case where a rap group was ultimately censored by the federal government. Henry Louis Gates Jr. depicts a few aspects of this case with the reading “2 Live Crew, Decoded” (523). There can be nothing worse than being misunderstood because of the use of slang. The group was being censored during their performances for being too provocative. Ultimately the federal government began to censor their music (523-24).

By using slang words in their music it caused many more problems for the rap group. Gates states: “Allegories and double meanings, words redefined to mean their opposite (‘bad’ meaning ‘good’, for instance), even neologisms (‘bodacious’) have enabled blacks to share messages only the initiated understood” (523). This is why the group was misunderstood. Unless all people understand the lyrics and the meaning behind the words they use, then it will cause everything they say to be misunderstood. Another way Gates suggests: “Many blacks were amused by the transcripts of Marion Barry’s sting operation, which reveals that he used the traditional black expression about one’s ‘nose being opened.’ This referred to a love affair and not, as Mr. Barry’s prosecutors have suggested, to the inhalation of drugs” (523).If others had known the slang terms meant then it may have had an effect on how things turned out for them. This misunderstanding also caused the group to be labeled as too provocative and they were censored for that reason. During their performances they were also being censored for being too provocative. Gates uses the following statements as evidence to show the censorship: “The young artists are...
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