THE BATTLE OF PENNSYLVANIA

By: Randy Lee Payton


Pennsylvania has turned into a battle ground between those proposing censorship as some kind of makeshift "solution" to America's social problems and those who propose MORE dialogue, MORE art and music, MORE communication between people (not less!) as the primary criteria for any GENUINE social progress.

When word of something called House Bill 2982 (which, if enacted would send young people off to so-called "community service", at rape crisis centers and domestic violence shelters as punishment for even attempting to buy PMRC stickered recordings, with $100 fines to record store owners and employees for selling said music) first came down the pike last July, our organization Rock Out Censorship and its newspaper THE ROC began marshalling our forces against it, via info tables and petitions at concerts, clubs and record stores throughout Pennsylvania. With 17 other states then sitting on similar proposals to HB 2982 we felt it was important that this bill, as well as its author and chief sponsor, one Rep. T.J. Rooney, go down in flames. Rooney is reportedly a "liberal" (from the Bethlehem/Lehigh Valley district). With "liberals" like Rooney, who needs the Religious Right?

The ultimately dangerous thing is that should a bill like HB 2982 (which alludes to an unproven, mythical 'link' between various works of music and anti-social behavior) be passed into law, a precedent has been set which places ALL our First Amendment freedoms in serious jeopardy.

T.J. Rooney has apparently taken his cues for this legislation from Tipper Gore's shameful, McCarthyite PMRC, Andrea Dworkin and Catherine MacKinnon's curious assertions that porn (or in this case gangsta rap) automatically translates as Violence Against Women and can/should be banned, as well as from elements of the new (and often quite reactionary) Black bourgeoisie like C. Delores Tucker, these days a professional testifier against rap music. In spite of denunciations by newspapers, labor unions, civil libertarians and even the Pennsylvania PTA who dissed the bill for sentencing young people to work in such emotionally intense environments as rape centers and DV shelters (just so T.J. Rooney could make a political nod to the anti-porn pseudo-feminists) the bill passed the State Judiciary Committee. Though HB 2982 was to die when the Pennsylvania General Assembly adjourned in November, it was reintroduced (with minor changes) in January as HB 377. As R.O.C. predicted last Summer, 4-5 other states have since witnessed the introduction of similar bills. Should HB 2982 pass the full house (it's already passed the Judiciary Committee) our legal council is more than confident the bill could be overturned as unconstitutional and forever remembered as "Rooney's Folly." For more information on how you can help short-circuit this and other would-be censorship efforts around the country, write: Rock Out Censorship, P.O. box 147, Jewett, Ohio 43986 -Phone/fax: (740) 946-2011.

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