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The Threats of Censorship This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

In 1984, Tipper Gore, then the wife of future presidential candidate Al Gore, purchased Prince’s album Purple Rain for her then 11-year-old daughter. Unfortunately, one of the tracks, “Darling Nikki,” contained explicit references to sex and masturbation. The lyrics embarrassed both of them, and songs such as this are what led Gore, along with Susan Baker, Pam Howar, and Sally Nevius to establish the Parents Music Resource Group, a group promoting music censorship. A milestone was achieved when advisory labels were created in 1985 for the covers of albums that contained potentially controversial lyrics.

Since then, many movements have been made to continue the promotion of music censorship. The PRMC is still involved, having made suggestions to ban certain artists and keep certain music under counters or in the backs of stores in the same vein as pornography. All of this seems honorable. However, what would happen if music censorship were taken to the level that the PRMC hopes for?

Music, as is all art, is an outlet for many people. The arts are most certainly forms of therapy. Knowing this, many people that might be taking out violent urges on other things and people can become a part of the fine arts to keep those urges in check and socially acceptable. This is actually a Freudian sociological defense mechanism—displacement and sublimation, where anxiety-provoking stimuli are expressed in a socially acceptable, and many times admirable, way. Often, people in the arts are able to live lifestyles tailored to their needs and socially acceptably. All of the performing arts are designed as masks for these oft-insecure people to hide behind. If this many things in the arts are banned, these needy people will no longer be able to do this. But they will find other ways, as those that cannot tame their ids must. We will likely have more killers and rapists in the world with music censorship than without it.

For instance, yes, people, men and women both, will become objects in music time and again. So it is in art, dance, writing, film, et cetera. The answer is not to ban this act. The closest answer is to give all people, all races, all sexes, the power to choose to do this if they want or need to. 80’s artists such as Madonna gave women the power to express female empowerment in an often male-dominated way. Other artists of that time such as Prince brought other races that power in an often white-dominated way. Glam rock artists of the 70’s brought male and female elements together in a way many people of the 60’s wanted to. The 70’s and 80’s were a time for libertarianism, androgyny, and integration through the arts. Had music censorship been totally in place then, this may never have happened, and none of us may have had those freedoms.

Besides, who are we to decide what is good and bad? No other species has morality. Violence is animalistic. Sex is animalistic. Want of drugs and alcohol is animalistic. In most “societies,” these are not good or bad, just animalistic. Animalism is not necessarily a sin. It might need to be controlled, but it is not necessarily a terrible thing. It is part of us. We evolved from apes, remember.

The truth is, we will never stop people from doing what they do. Things like sexual desires and violent urges are part of us. They were part of us in the Paleolithic age, they are part of us now, and they will be part of us thousands of years from now. The best way to “control ourselves” is to let them be released safely in the arts. Censorship is not the answer. In fact, it may make our world worse taken too far.





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Bethani said...
Dec. 28, 2010 at 10:30 pm
I don't agree with censorship but I agree with putting a warning label and having access to lyrics so we know what we're listening to. 
 
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