Freedom of Speech in Music

Topics: Censorship, Obscenity, Frank Zappa Pages: 3 (948 words) Published: August 22, 2011
Is It Freedom of Speech in Music?

Freedom of speech and expression are two of the mainstays that make up the very fabric of this country. Music is a form of speech that gives the artist a platform to relay their message or opinion on any given topic they choose. When tragic events happen certain songs are viewed as insensitive and in return receive no radio time or video play. By banning music containing information pertaining to the tragic event, does the tragic event disappear? The First Amendment to our Constitution allows us freedom of speech and press provided we do not violate any other laws in the process. As we shall see, there are no laws providing for music censorship. Censorship can be attributed to time as well. In the days of Elvis Presley, a pelvic gyration was deemed immoral and obscene, so therefore it was not televised. In today’s society, that same pelvic thrust is in 95% of all music videos. As Robert Gross points out, “...this controversy is a replay of the age old generation gap, in a new and, perhaps, more striking form. Iron Maiden may strike today’s adults as alien to their culture, but the author suspects that a similar reaction occurred when adults first heard the lyrics to "Good Golly, Miss Molly" (Gross 1990). Even more ridiculous, some attacks were racially motivated. In the 50’s, petitions were passed out saying, “Don’t allow your children to buy Negro records.” The petitions referred to the "raw unbridled passion" of screaming people with dark skin who were going to drive our children wild. Some things never go out of fashion in certain ideological camps. They are like tenets of the faith” (Zappa 1988). Musicians are often credited for using imagery, ideas, and obscene language in their lyrics. What some deem obscene is usually a documentation of real events and real people expressed through language suited to tell the story. “Explicit sex, violence, pain, suffering, and unusual human acts are...

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Zappa, Frank. "On Junk Food for the Soul." New Perspectives Quarterly Vol. 4, Winter 1988: p. 26-30. Retrieved December 3, 2010 from
"Censorship in music? My, what a wonderful idea!" Saint Paul Pioneer Press (St. Paul, MN). 2000. Retrieved December 03, 2010 from accessmylibrary:
Lombardi, Victor. “Music and Censorship”. (1991, December). Retrieved December 3, 2010 from
Goethe. Dialogues with Eckermann. 1832. As cited in Oboler. Retrieved December 3, 2010 from
“The Power Role of Music in Society”. (2008, July 10). Retrieved December 3, 2010 from
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