Rock Out Censorship is currently coordinating or participating in four separate petition drives. In this section, you can either sign our petitions electronically on-line, or you can download physical copies of our petitions so you can have copies to sign and distribute to others. Come to this section often as we will be adding more petition drives as we get more incident reports.
For any petition drive we conduct on this site, we will always have a petition topic, a brief description of the situation and where the petitions will be turned in, an on-line signing form, and a copy of the actual petition for you to download and print copies so you can get all your off-line friends to participate as well. If you choose to download the copy of the petitions and get friends to sign, please send the filled-out petitions to:
ROCK OUT CENSORSHIP P.O. Box 147 Jewett, OH 43986
Petition #1: ROCK OUT CENSORSHIP's National petition against the Parental Advisory Warning Labels being placed on albums "voluntarily" by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
Currently, over half the record stores in the United States are ID'ing people under the age of 18 when they attempt to buy recorded material that has these warning labels. Several states across the country have attempted to pass laws that would hold retail stores criminally liable for simply selling an album to someone under the age of 18 (Pennsylvania even wants to arrest the children and force them to perform community service). Wal-Mart and K-Mart will not even stock an album that has a Parental Advisory label on it (proving that there is far more going on here than simply "protecting children"). It is our stance, speaking on behalf of thousands of music fans across the country that have already signed this petition, that the warning labels must go for these reasons.
The warning label was a compromise between the music industry and in some cases genuinely concerned parents, but mostly the religious zealots of this country. Even Tipper Gore claimed when this labeling system was introduced that it was intended to be a tool for the parents, so that when the child bought the album and brought it home, the parent would have something to go by to help them see what their kid(s) were listening to. In a compromise, both sides agree to give up something to meet a suitable middle ground. This label was supposed to be that middle ground.
It has always been our experience in seeing how groups like the Christian Coalition and the American Family Association operate that they do not see things as a true compromise. When a compromise is reached with them, they go back to their meetings and have a "Now we're half way there, if we keep hammering we'll have what we want" mentality. Thus a true compromise is never reached. It is our opinion that because they have already shown that they are unwilling to keep things as a "warning system" for parents and because they seek further punitive measures to legislate their morality upon the country that the labels must be pulled off the albums.
When we delivered over 35,000 signed petitions to the RIAA in Washington, D.C., we were told by their representative that the warning labels were good because they keep further legislation from coming down. Our reply to them was and is, "No, the warning labels do not keep further legislation from coming down...the First Amendment of the United States Constitution keeps further legislation from coming down." So sign our petition and send a strong message to the RIAA that they should stop caving in to the demands of the religious zealots and allow the First Amendment to be their safeguard against any legislation that would infringe upon the the First Amendment rights of music artists, record labels, retail stores, and music fans.
Petition #2: ROCK OUT CENSORSHIP's National petition against mandatory filtering software on public computer systems. We strongly believe in the power of the internet as a profound societal advance in our ability to educate ourselves, communicate with each other, and more conveniently access information that previously may have taken substantial effort to find. By placing fundamentally flawed filtering software on public computers in libraries and in schools, our government is preventing access to Constitutionally protected material. We find that to be completely unacceptable. For a vast amount of details on the many flaws and undeclared political biases built into filtering software, we encourage all readers here to read through *everything* at the Peacefire.org site and the Censorware.net site.
If individuals wish to utilize filtering software, that is one thing. While we oppose such practices from an ethical point of view and would never wish to utilize such software for ourselves, we do not oppose individual use of filtering software from a legal point of view. However individual use is far different from government mandated use. We see government mandated use as an attempt by government to decide for everyone what we can or cannot access among Constitutionally protected material, giving them total control over the flow of information in this media on public machines. Given that many people in our country cannot afford to have a computer and/or internet connection of their own and do all their online research from public computer systems in schools or at libraries, the utilization of such software can serve to completely cut off these people from the information/material they seek, putting them at the mercy of the government and filtering software manufacturers for what they are able to access. By limiting the access of information, government officials display a profound example of an abuse of power and infringement of First Amendment rights.
Supporters claim that filtering software is just to prevent children from accessing pornography. The reality of the situation is that this software blocks some, but not all pornography, but also blocks a whole host of other material that has nothing to do with pornography. Sites dealing with such topics as breast cancer, AIDS, abortion and even fine art find themselves on the banned list of many of the filtering software titles. The Rock Out Censorship site has been reported to us as being blocked by several students trying to find information about the censorship issue from our available material. So much for living in a country that allows the free exchange of ideas and does not ban political speech such as our's. It is our position that policies mandating the use of filtering software only serve to create a sad societal condition touting ignorance as bliss, and interferes with the educational opportunity the internet presents. It is not the government's right or role to make such decisions for the public, even if the material in question is of a highly controversial nature. We urge all our readers that find themselves on the fence on this issue to not confuse government mandated use of such software with chosen individual use.
Petition #3: ROCK OUT CENSORSHIP's national call to stop the corporate censorship of music. This petition, being the second step to remedy the situation described above with Petition #1, is intended as a solemn pledge by all that sign it that we will not spend another dime with any retail music chain that imposes any content sales restrictions on music. This petition targets Wal-Mart as the primary offender in this category, but also will target other chains guilty of such offenses. Once we have enough of these signed petitions that we will present a respectable force, we intend to turn these in to the corporate executives of the companies to demand that such restrictive policies geared toward the elimination of material that SOME may find offense with be stopped immediately. This will assure that a level playing field is kept for all musical content and will allow the free-market system work as it was intended to, by letting the public decide.
As firm believers in the free market economy, it is our stance that if the overwhelming percentage of the populace finds offense in certain products, then these products would naturally disappear from the marketplace through lack of sales. It is something completely different when very popular forms of music are made to disappear by corporate efforts such as Wal-Mart's and others to restrict content and availability to the public. This is no longer the public making choices for themselves. This is corporations dictating standards from the top down. It is our stance that those that find offense in a product can always choose to not purchase it, but to deny the product from those that do not find offense is completely un-American and poses a grave threat to all artistic freedoms when applied by companies controlling the majority of music sales.
Petition #4: ROCK OUT CENSORSHIP's National petition against attempts by state governments to enact concert ratings systems with the intent of restricting access to concert for people under 18.
Michigan and South Carolina both have tried to pass legislation that would hold concert promoters and venue officials/club owners criminally responsible for allowing people under 18 to attend shows deemed to be "harmful to minors" by government officials without being accompanied by a parent. Fortunately these attempts at clearly unconstitutional legislation have failed, but we at ROC foresee that this is going to be a growing problem in the ongoing struggle to maintain our freedom of expression. For that reason, we're pro-actively initiating a petition campaign to oppose concert ratings system legislation, wherever it rears it's ugly head in the future.
If concert ratings legislation is ever passed, each community would be allowed to decide, based on past shows and albums, whether anyone under 18 should be allowed to attend. The standards that each concert will be judged by is as follows (as written in the attempted Michigan Senate Bill 1100: "Acts that are violent or destructive, limited to human or animal mutilation, dismemberment, murder, suicide, rape, torture, or illegal use of drugs...when considered as a whole, and in the context for which it is used, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors." The wording of such legislation is highly ambiguous. It is reaching past defining "obscene" to judging what has merit and artistic value. And if you think that such a law would only effect the most extreme forms of music out there, think again, as there are many in the Christian Coalition that thought John Denver's "Rocky Mountain High" should be banned, ridiculously citing it as a song about doing drugs in the mountains. With the mentality of those we are fighting in these battles, nearly every artist in pop culture would potentially be threatened.
One result of the passage of concert ratings legislation is as follows:
If a child wants to see a show, and his/her parent(s) have no problem with them seeing the show, but have no desire to go to the show themselves, that child would no longer be able to go to the show, simply because the government has decided certain material should not be viewed by minors. Since that scenario would probably be the case with a huge number of families, in practice, it might as well be legislation completely restricting people under 18 from attending certain shows altogether--unconstitutionally blocking their freedom of assembly and their right to view constitutionally protected material. Such legislation clearly undermines the rights of more liberal parents in favor of establishing laws for the benefit of conservative parents. Plain and simple, the government has NO BUSINESS and NO RIGHT being involved in this decision making process whatsoever.