Why Music Should NOT Be Censored

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We’ve heard it all. From “think of the children”, to “these rappers are poisonous” to “gahhh, music is the devil”. People have different tastes when it comes to art and everyone has the right to comment on music. However, this does not afford anyone the right to censor music by choosing what artists can and cannot say. A world without free speech is an oppressed one, especially when we are talking about an art form that is as expressive as music. To censor music and art is to invite a slippery slope that would be awful for all of us, regardless of our taste in music.

The problem here is that people see problems around them and want an easy solution to them. While it feels simple and gratifying to put the guilt on the shoulders of artists who use profanity in their language and toy with controversial subject matter, it’s wrong. It misses the point. Is it really the music that is the problem? Or is it the people who listen to it? It seems like we live in a society that loves to paint everything black or white and good or bad. While it may be unsatisfactory to some, the truth of the matter is that this is simply not the reality we live in. Our problems are much more complex and require an introspection from all of us.

We’ve seen artists painted as villains time and time again by angry parents and news-hungry media. Eminem is a name commonly touted by the pro-censorship crowd with lyrics that are provocative and, at times, offensive to some. Another infamous character in music history would be Marilyn Manson. Besides his lyrics, Mr. Manson was also known for making controversial social and political statements. One memorable image that comes to mind would be of Manson burning the American flag on stage during a live concert.

Now, these are two musicians who have certainly angered some people with controversial actions and lyrics, but neither of them do these things intentionally to “poison the youth”. All artists use techniques deliberately and with care. In music, the choice of words is not random and necessarily vulgar, but present in the song for a purpose. Marilyn Manson knows that burning the American flag would disgruntle millions of Americans, but he does it because he wants you to think. Why are you getting mad? What is it about this piece of cloth that you feel so deeply about?

I may not always agree with what certain musicians have to say, but I will defend their right to say it and so should you. Not everything is going to sound rosy to your ears. This is something we must overcome, especially in such a communicative world. We can’t have people who are scared to make social and political statements. We can’t have people afraid to say certain things over fear of hurting someone’s feelings. Messages get to kids, but it is not the music industry’s job to be a parent. As stated earlier, people love to lazily point a finger at what they perceive as the bad guy, and parents are most definitely not immune to this tendency.

As Eminem so succinctly put in his song, “Who Knew”,

“But don’t blame me when Little Eric jumps off the terrace, You should have been watching him, apparently you ain’t parents”

Art succeeds in getting messages across precisely because it has freedom. If you take that away, you rip the soul out of creativity and free speech for all of us – not just the musicians.

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