By: Michelle Daugherty

As I was watching TV one Sunday morning, I paused at a channel that was playing a barrage of rock and heavy metal videos (I saw and heard more bands in that 3 minutes than I hear and see all week) with a menacing voice-over denouncing the "evils of rock music" and how you too, would be convinced of these "evils" if only you would send the $79.95 (for two two-hours videos) to the ministry emblazoned across the bottom of the screen. Because I felt this was an incredibly idiotic display, because I didn't agree with anything being claimed and because I had the choice, do you know what I did? I TURNED IT OFF. It's an amazing concept isn't it? I was not being hypnotized into a trance by the advertisement, nor was I being subliminally conditioned into behaving in a manner that would otherwise seem unusual. I listened to what was being said, I didn't like it, I turned it off. Period.

Now, what if my channel changer worked over the entire United States of America? When I chose to turn that advertisement off, it turned off TVs all over the country. Sad as it may seem and for reasons God only knows, there are people who wanted to watch that same commercial--yet I turned it off. Regardless of the fact that I thought the commercial was preposterous and asinine, I should not be allowed to be in a position where I can make that decision for anyone other than myself. Nobody should be allowed to be in a position where they can pick what is "OK" for someone else to read/look at/listen to/write/sing/rap/draw or think.

However, there are several groups that would like to make just that their 9 to 5 job. Their (PMRC, FOF, AFA, etc.) main concern seems to be what they identify as "evil" messages being conveyed through rock/rap music and videos. Messages they claim are the cause of troubled teen-agers who abuse drugs and alcohol, attempt suicide, "worship Satan", wear a lot of black clothes, etc. I used to think the members of these pressure groups had just forgotten how hard it can be to be a teen-ager in today's society. Now I realize they probably never experienced half of the confusion, frustration and loneliness that accompanies this phase of life. Don't they realize that the very music they're trying to get censored is the only thing that millions of teen-agers have to turn to? What about the little boy who is abused by his parents who grows up to be the guy walking around the halls in an Ozzy Osbourne (or R.E.M.) shirt. The same guy who the teachers don't pay any attention to and the same guy who has to listen to the gum-cracking jocks and cheerleaders call him a "loser" because he keeps to himself and doesn't socialize. The only time that he isn't put down or treated badly is when he listens to music. Music that he likes, music that he has chosen. But yet, when outside pressures mount and nobody has ever given him any indication that he is wanted or needed on this earth--when he ends his life, these groups immediately point their fingers at the CD found in his player. They look past the anger, torment, neglect and humiliation he endured and place the blame on Track 4 of "Diary of a Madman." It would be much too hard to start paying attention to today's teen-agers, let alone listen to what they're saying. It's much easier, and much more guilt-free to place the blame on something other than ourselves as a society.

What these groups believe and are trying to enforce is that a song, a three-minute piece of music with lyrics, can mysteriously alter a human being's train of thought to the point of suicide, murder or devil worship. They believe this so strongly, they are trying to take music away from everyone, and they've gone too, too far. Satan worship and suicide were just the foundation of their accusations, now they're bringing blatant racism into the limelight and censoring lyrics of a political nature -- rap music (largely performed by black people) specifically. These various pressure groups have accelerated their suppressive efforts to include this newer form of music. Bands such as Public Enemy are doing a phenomenal job of keeping people, young and old alike, informed of the racial injustices that happen daily in this country. They've contributed more towards educating you and I than Dan, Peter and Tom combined. They're fighting to have their voice heard and listened to because, until now, no one's fought for them or with them. A large percentage (if not all) of rap artists (and I'm not talking about Vanilla Ice or the "new" Hammer) have experienced turbulent lives. They've been in dangerous situations and lived volatile home lives. The anger and resentment that has built over the years comes out in their music. It's exciting music with a great beat and a tough, serious, "slap in the face" message about life lived outside of the safe glow of a suburban streetlight.

I have listened to countless records and songs, a large percentage of which were "explicit." I have watched countless videos and movies, many of which were deemed "pornographic," "violent," or "lewd." Most of the thousands of books I have read were "banned" and pulled from library and/or book store shelves. I'm OK, you're OK. I haven't been demonic, I don't worship Satan, I haven't attempted suicide and I have yet to murder anybody. What has happened is I've grown up educated with my eyes wide open. I was raised to believe in myself and my opinions but to have an open mind and ALWAYS listen to views differing from mine (kudos to Mom). I was raised to not only make my own decisions, but raised with the notion that I would have the opportunity and the right to make those same decisions--not that someone, somewhere, sometime would get to make choices for me.

Based on these beliefs, I rose in defense of rap artist Ice Cube when he recently came under yet another attack in my local area newspaper. The attack compared Ice-Cube to David Duke, had trouble calling rappers "artists" and hinted around that perhaps the reason that Ice-Cube has such a problem with Korean grocery stores is that he is jealous and angry at the black race for not being resourceful enough to be the majority of grocery store owners in the lower class neighborhoods of today. My letter was printed (just for "shock value", I'm sure) and almost exactly one month later, I receive a reply to my utilization of my right to voice an opinion in the "free press." This letter told me I had been "brainwashed by government controlled schools," told me that I would be "on my hands and knees begging for mercy" when the white people were no longer in control of this country and also told me that David Duke was trying to "stop nigger-loving whores" like me from dragging the entire white race down. It's gone too far. Neither myself, nor anyone else, deserves to be subjected to this kind of abuse for the expression of an opinion. Any opinion.

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