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Censorship & Freedom Of Speech On Music

2001 words - 8 pages

Throughout the history of music, many artists have been denounced, ridiculed, and banned as a result of their controversial lyrics. Artists like rap star Ice Cube and shock rocker Marilyn Manson have received a great deal of negative attention from the media due to their 'unpleasant' lyrics. As a result of these lyrics being so unsettling to some, these artists along with many others in the present and past, have been protested, fined, and even sued. Some people claim that these artists are harmful to the youth, while others claim that they are just plain obscene. Some even stand against them because of religious reasons. In any event, the first amendment to the United States Constitution states clearly that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances" (United States). The first amendment should protect musical artists from any attempts of the people or the government to silence them.If the first amendment was held true in this country, people would not be able to sue singers and songwriters over the views expressed in their songs. Unfortunately, this right of free expression has failed to protect many focal points of music. Russell Simmons, a veteran to the hip-hop music scene, was sued several years back by a listener who claimed that he was offended by the words to one of Simmons's songs. In the courtroom, the only statement made by Simmons to defend himself was that "Some of the things you find offensive are actually reflections of a reality that needs to be expressed" (Freedom Forum). Simmons is absolutely correct in stating this. Anything that takes place in this world is something that is not only real, but is the truth. Why anyone would give up their right to be aware of a reality or truth makes no sense to me. Many years ago, rap artist Ice Cube was criticized by people that his song made young people to be aggressive towards the cops. He sings:How the fuck do you figureThat I can say peace and the gunshots won't ceaseEvery cop killin' goes ignoredThey just send another nigga to the morgueMy boys gone - they can't give a fuck about usThey rather catch us with guns and white powderIf I was home, they'd probably be front of meSince I'm young, they consider me the enemyThey'll kill ten of me to get the job correctTo serve, protect, and break a nigga's neck (Tales From the Dark Side)Ice Cube simply sang about police misconduct towards black men. He felt that police are the power arm of the larger white American power structure which is the great foe to black man. Ice Cube sang what he felt was the reality and he should have every right to express his thoughts. His quote most likely offends many people who hear it; however it is a view that needs to be expressed. Many critics hear the profanity in these songs and...

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