That Cleveland would become a hotbed of anti-censorship activity should come as no surprise. The city is considered by many as the "capital of Rock & Roll". Cleveland DJ Alan Freed is reported, in fact, to have coined the term.
Cleveland boasts a number of bands and clubs second to few. Innumerable national acts first "broke" in Cleveland. Combine this with an exciting active arts scene and you've got the makings for an organized frontal assault against the enemies of free expression.
R.O.C. has participated in several recent forums and actions in Cleveland, the first being the forum organized by the Cleveland Music Group (CMG) held at FLASH GORDON's on October 2nd. Featuring such luminaries as Sean Killian from the band VIO-LENCE, famed rock photographer Anastasia Pantsios, Tammi Pathtel from Citizens Against Censorship in Lake County and others.
Rock photographer Anastasia Pantsios called for putting "our secondary musical differences aside" and uniting against the current wave of censorship, while Tammi Pathtel described her group's organizing to fight the establishment of Community Standards Boards in Lake County. Anyone with an anti-censorship view is being excluded from consideration from this Board. The Community Standards Board would decide what is, and is not "obscene" in Lake County.
ROC's Elayn Morison and Randy Payton addressed the need for "a mass, national coalition to send the censors packing." Socialist Workers Party candidate for Ohio Attorney General Martha Pettit drew the connection between the current attempts to censor free expression in the US and the build-up for war in the Persian Gulf. Also represented at this forum were Joe Guy of the Creative Coalition and Jerry Craig from the 1st Amendment Lawyers Association.
Sean Killian discussed censorship attempts experienced by VIO-LENCE on the part of their label, Atlantic Records. Actually Atlantic distributes the VIO-LENCE album for Megaforce. Atlantic refused to distribute OPPRESSING THE MASSES unless the cut entitled "Torture Tactics" was removed because Atlantic felt it was "too graphic." Atlantic is the same company who recently signed a multi million dollar deal to distribute 2 Live Crew's AS NASTY AS THEY WANNA BE. "We can't do shit because we're not selling millions of albums like 2 Live Crew," said Killian. "If we were making millions of dollars, our song would never been touched," he added. Killian claims that "Torture Tactics" will be released on another label soon. Before leaving for a show at another club, Killian was presented with a R.O.C. t-shirt which he will proudly be wearing on stage.
A few days later at the Pathfinders Bookstore Militant Forum Series on Censorship, ROC's John Woods laid down the groups strategy for fighting censorship. "The electoral process is useful only up to a point. But nothing can beat the effect long-term, broad based organizing can have. We support the ROCK THE VOTE effort being pushed by MTV and Virgin Records, but we don't see it as the end-all solution in regards to censorship. After the elections on November 6th, the PMRC, Jack Thompson, Frontline Ministries, Bob Larson, Dan and Steve Peters, and a vast assortment of other kooks, nuts and lunatic fringe elements who are leading the attacks on music are still going to be out there. These are the ones we must zero in on," John told the gathering.
And finally, the day everyone was waiting for, October 19th. 2 Live Crew was going to be "Nasty" on the stage of the Agora in Cleveland. An anti-censorship rally was also scheduled outside the Euclid Avenue club. Well, due to the trial in Florida, the Crew could not be nasty in Cleveland, but the rally went on as planned. Although small in numbers, the participants were a very high spirited group. ROC'ers John, Randy and Mike could be seen, with our friends on that evening's Channel 5 and 43 news holding THE ROC newsletter to the camera's and being generally rowdy on the streets of the Capital of Rock & Roll.
R.O.C. has built quite a base in the Cleveland area. On December 22nd a ROCK OUT CENSORSHIP benefit concert will be held at FLASH GORDON's. Featured bands will be PROCREATION, ADVOCATE, ENVIRONMENTAL HAZZARD, RIPPED, ORGANIC RAGE and ABASINATION. Anyone in the Greater Cleveland area who wants to get involved with R.O.C. can write: R.O.C. P.O. Box 147, Jewett, OH 43986, or call John at (740) 946-2011.