PMRC UPDATE

By: Debi Howell


More influential than ever, the PMRC has been furthering its agenda on two levels, one conducted through the media, they assure the public they want nothing to do with legislation and censorship. The second and more influential approach, has been found far from the cameras and tape recorders. It seems that the PMRC has found the secret of keeping friends and influencing policy, by working quietly.

Take for example, the union of the PMRC and the American Academy of Pediatrics. MUSIC IN ACTION reports that in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a teenager suffering from depression was admitted to a treatment center for help. Instead of help, he found doctors who based medical decisions on the PMRC anti-rock video "Rising To The Challenge." The teenaged patient states, "I was in there to learn how to deal with (my problem). They were telling me the music was depressing me...I went there for treatment, not to be brainwashed by brainwashed PMRC doctors and nurses." The boy's mother borrowed the PMRC video from the doctor and after watching it was enraged that such material would affect medical decisions.

Another revelation is contained in a Congressional Research Service report which states that rock lyrics are not protected under the First Amendment and that no laws to restrict lyrics would be considered Unconstitutional. Despite the startling claims of the 1987 report's findings, it was a virtual secret to the media. Until that is, the PMRC revealed the findings of this report in their Spring 1989 newsletter. Although their organization is referenced on the first page of their newsletter, PMRC officials insist they had no prior knowledge of the report. Further, while they claim they are strictly a "consumer information" group, this Congressional Report states that "the PMRC has been established to promote stricter regulations over 'objectionable' records."

Attempts to find out who ordered the research were fruitless, the authorship of the report is listed as "confidential." The PMRC states that they have no interest in promoting legislation, but this claim does not hold up under close inspection. In articles published in the B'nai Brith Messenger, it is revealed that PMRC "expert" Reverend Jeff Ling (a key witness at the PMRC Senate Hearings) lobbied extensively in San Antonio, Texas for an age limit restriction on rock concerts. It is reported that extremist Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum donated leaflets for the cause.

The PMRC has ties to a group in Missouri called MISSOURI PROJECT ROCK. The founders, Shirley Marvin and Rev. Shane Westholter are adamant supporters of Missouri legislation which would prohibit anyone under the age of 17 from going to rock concerts without permission of their parents. Westholter, a devout fundamentalist Christian believes in a bizarre theory of the "ILLUMINATI" which holds that a small group of bankers, including the Rockefellers, controls all financial and government powers in the U.S. The ILLUMINATI theorists contend that the Holocaust didn't happen, that it is a fabrication made up by the Israelis in an effort to make Israel a Zionist State. Even with such extreme views, Westholter is considered a leading expert on Rock & Roll and Satanism and is regularly consulted by police departments in several major cities. He has been quoted as saying that TIPPER GORE is "very excited" about the legislation in Missouri.

If the PMRC is, in fact more potent when working quietly, their October 1987 "ROCK SYMPOSIUM" might have been a powerful example of their stealth, had J.R. Smith of the VILLAGE VOICE not found out about it. Jennifer Norwood of the PMRC, startled at seeing this uninvited guest, told smith, "WE DIDN'T WANT TO MAKE A BIG MEDIA EVENT OF THIS."

It's easy to see why the PMRC didn't want the details of their ROCK SYMPOSIUM revealed. The speakers and audience were a bizarre smattering of extremist, religious groups and a bio-acoustics research group that blames "that beat" for troubles of teens. Such statements are eerily reminiscent of the Ku Klux Klan's claims in the 50's that Rock music caused gang behavior and sexual promiscuity in white youth because of the wicked "jungle rhythm of the Negro."

Smith writes, "The PMRC constantly reminds us they want nothing to do with censorship. They refrained, as always, from recommending legislation. Not so for some of those invited." An ear doctor asked that stereo headphones be labeled "This product may be dangerous to your health." Drawing from their list of friends in high places, former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop delivered the keynote address. "Much of this is pretty goofy," Smith reports, "but it shows how frightened people can confuse Enquirer headlines with typical teenage behavior. By giving a microphone in the Press Club to these mixed-nuts, the PMRC lent status to their remarks."

The PMRC has become chillingly effective at presenting their arguments. In a NEWSWEEK article (May 29, 1989), TIPPER GORE and SUSAN BAKER linked the brutal beating of the New York City woman jogging in Central Park to Rap lyrics. In this cynically opportunistic essay, BAKER & GORE state that the attackers were heard singing "WILD THING" a Rap song about casual sex" after being locked up. Later, they assert, "We do not advocate or support restrictions on (free speech); we have never proposed government action." Danny Goldberg, California ACLU Chairman, states, "I have been concerned that efforts by TIPPER GORE and others could give encouragement to weird and narrow-minded groups. I wish (TIPPER GORE) would unambiguously denounce any group that wants to impose any particular religious concept on police departments, parole boards, or any other aspect of government."

Despite their questionable ties, the PMRC enjoys vast support among mainstream America. As long as they maintain this freedom loving facade, and continue to let others advocate and implement their dirty-work, they will be a dangerous force.

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