Attention music lovers; reports have it that Tipper Gore has resigned from the board of the PMRC. According to Rock & Rap Confidential, the vice president's wife "has apparently quit her day job." However, it would be wrong to think that the PMRC's particular method of restricting freedom of expression, which has always involved pressure and harassment will change significantly now that Tipper has left the group. Believe it or not, Bill Clinton has appointed Mrs. Gore "mental health advisor," and one can be fairly certain that if asked her advice on federal censorship bills such as last year's Pornography Victim's Compensation Act, or 1988's Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act, Tipper will side with the bill's sponsors. After all, hasn't the PMRC been telling us for all these years that music is bad for the mental health of America's youth?
The PMRC has always been quasi-governmental, using ties with powerful politicians (husbands) to move the issue of rock & roll into the political realm. They did this, as Phyllis Pollack wrote in Rap Pages and the last issue of THE ROC, by obtaining a Senate hearing on lyrics in 1985, which was unsuccessful in persuading Congress to pass legislation requiring government labeling of records. The PMRC remains the link in an extremely well-organized conspiracy against rock and rap, linking government with truly frightening right-wing and fundamentalist Christian pro-censorship groups.
So now Tipper has quit. Remember how the media mentioned Tipper's purchase of a Grateful Dead record so prominently during the campaign? I've listened to the Dead's records and never thought they were very good, but the point is that this is a band that has advocated substance abuse since the days of the acid test. So maybe Tipper left the PMRC to avoid being called a hypocrite.
O.K, Tipper, I'll concede you this: maybe rock and rap have led to sane idiotic things, such as taking drugs. But I still think that rock and roll is the greatest thing in the world. The PMRC almost never talks about the positive side of rock and rap-the way it reaches "down into homes without culture to tell kids that there is another way to live," as Dave Marsh has written; the way that it has given a voice to those who don't have any other medium to express themselves; the way that some of it encourages rebellion and the questioning of authority. Bruce Springsteen has said that seeing The Beatles taught him the most important thing: don't sell yourself short.
Despite all the talk about children that you'll read in the PMRC's publications, I don't believe that the censors really care about young people. What they are really concerned with is suppressing rebellion. The censorship of artists like Ice-T is political, and it was Tipper Gore who moved the issue of rock & roll subject matter into the political realm. Today, people under 18 can't get their favorite music at more than 3000 record stores across the country because of Tipper's warning labels. This restriction of access is what the PMRC always wanted in the first place. So Tipper may have quit, but I won't forgive her for the damage she's done until the PMRC disbands, the record labels are removed, and she begins to speak out for censored artists. While she's at it, our new mental health advisor could recommend therapy for the loony right-wingers that she's been friends with for so many years.
(Editor's note: Scott Pfeiffer is vice president of the Friendly Anti-Censorship Taskforce for Students (FACTS), and the area representative for R.O.C. in Athens, OH.