AN OPEN LETTER TO MTV NEWS

By: Kenny Moore


Dear Mr. Loder and Ms. Soren, We would like to begin by letting you know that in this letter, we speak for everyone affiliated with Rock Out Censorship, along with thousands of music fans across the country. We are sure that you are already aware of our organization, but in case we are mistaken, let us take this opportunity to introduce you to what we are doing "in the trenches" of the anti-censorship fight for First Amendment rights. Rock Out Censorship was founded in 1989 as an organization dedicated to doing our part in helping to maintain Freedom of Speech for all. We tend to focus mainly on censorship within the music industry, but cover First Amendment issues in a broad range of areas on a national level through our publication "THE ROC"--the voice of Rock Out Censorship. We set up anti-censorship information booths at major concert events around the country as part of an effort to educate and activate the music fans. In the past, we have set up our booths with approval from band management on the entire 1992 Guns 'N' Roses/Metallica Summer stadium tour, as well as select dates on the Lollapalooza I and II tours, and with Ozzy Osbourne, Queensryche, Aerosmith, Nine Inch Nails, Tesla, Megadeth, Henry Rollins, Danzig, Jackyl, Primus, Rage Against The Machine, Black Sabbath, The Cult, Ministry, The Offspring, Def Leppard, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Ted Nugent, Bad Company, Poison, Motley Crue, Type O Negative, Pantera, Slayer, Skid Row, White Zombie, Sepultura, Fishbone, Green Day, Biohazard, Testament, Anthrax, Tribe-8, The Ramones, GWAR, Dio, Stone Temple Pilots, Obituary, Helmet, Bile, Pro-Pain, Overkill, L7, 7 Year Bitch, The Lunachicks, Corrosion of Conformity, Prong, Pigface, Marilyn Manson, The Genitorturers, Morbid Angel, Alien Sex Fiend, Sacred Reich, and many, many others too numerous to mention. In addition to these information booths and the publication of "THE ROC", we also stage occasional protests and even sponsor debates relating to the censorship issue.

Now that we have familiarized with our efforts, we will now get to the point of this letter. We would like to know why you or your network choose to completely ignore everything our organization does (silencing the voices of the true music fans in the process), but then you give extensive coverage to William Bennett and C. Delores Tucker's attempts/threats to basically do away with "gangster rap" music. On your recent coverage of their protest outside Time/Warner headquarters, you showed footage of a handful of people picketing outside the building and told us how they want to stop the excessive violence in rap lyrics, and how, in response Time/Warner may soon lead the charge for the industry to restrict access to such music to minors. We would like to know why no such coverage was given to our protest outside PMRC headquarters and ensuing delivery to the RIAA of over 35,000 signatures of petitions calling for the removal of the warning labels "Tipper Stickers" from the albums in 1992. Were our 35,000+ (now well over 50,000) activist's voices not worthy of your coverage or was it simply that you didn't want anything to interfere with getting Bill Clinton elected and feared that any bad publicity involving your friend Tipper would jeopardize the Clinton campaign you so enthusiastically endorsed? What has happened to the MTV of old that printed the fax number for the Governor of Washington for fans to protest the first incarnation of Washington's Erotic Music Bill? During your current coverage of the censors' Time/Warner protest, we did not hear one word that even remotely questioned what these people are trying to do to the music industry, much less a voice of opposition to the desired censorship of rap artists. Some minimal response was given on the following week's installment of THE WEEK IN ROCK, but in our judgement it was too little, too late. Has Viacom forced you to sell out the music industry and the fans so greatly, or have you just decided wimp out and "remain neutral" on the issue? If the proposals these people are trying to push through become a reality, you can chalk up radical cultural change as a thing of the past. If these policies were in place in the 1950's, rock and roll music would have never happened and MTV would not exist. Remember, Elvis Presley was considered far too sexually provocative for that generation, which is one of the guidelines stated by William Bennett and C. Delores Tucker as being things they do not want to see in music. However, these policies were not in place in the 1950's, and the kids of that generation brought about radical cultural change that their parents did not like. Please do not assist in the cutting of future cultural change by "remaining neutral" on this subject in the interest of avoiding controversy. It is imperative that the music industry band together to fight these attacks on Freedom of Speech. Music does not cause the conditions in society that the censors are seeking to remedy, they merely reflect them. The real reason for censoring "gangster rap" artists is to silence their message and to ignore their rage against a system that offers them little hope of ever changing their plight, so that the status quo can be maintained. "Gangster rap" is a threat to those in charge of this system because it is not symbolic of The Waltons, or of Disneyland, or of other "nice" images that they wish to force feed our society. It is symbolic of the harsh reality of urban life in America today...a reality that is easier to ignore than to fix. Instead of censoring or limiting access to these artists' works in the interest of "protecting" society, why do William Bennett and C. Delores Tucker not seek to find out what conditions cause these problems and then seek to do something about the problems in these communities? These are not people that care about our children as they claim. They are simply using "protection of children" as a means at garnering a fed-up public on their side in their attempts to suppress attitudes and artworks that they do not like. We at Rock Out Censorship devote an enormous amount of energy and resources towards exposing the censors for the frauds that they are. It sure would be nice to see MTV lend some assistance in promoting Freedom of Speech for all instead of towing the corporate line of neutrality.

The so-called "voluntary" labeling system is a complete joke and must be exposed as such. The majority of the music buying public are not only totally opposed to sales restrictions, but are also opposed to the labeling system itself (and we have the signatures to prove it). When they had the Legislative hearings to push for the labeling of violent video games and subsequent ID'ing of children for purchases, the Government Subcommittee basically told the industry that "either you clean up your industry, or we'll [the government] clean it up for you". This is hardly the language of a "voluntary" system. It is the language of censorship. It is not voluntary when you are put under the barrel of a gun. What such restrictory legislation is really about is mind-control and an attempt to reduce/eliminate rebellion against the system by keeping children shielded from anything the government/corporate establishment may deem to be a threat to their power. Children that are into the harsher rap and rock scenes tend to grow up to be people that are not afraid of openly questioning authority and being skeptical of authority's motivations. By nature, they are more rebellious. If anything, we need more, not less, rebellion and questioning of authority in today's society against a system that simply isn't working. Today the censors target violence and sex, tomorrow it will be opposing political thoughts. Anything can be demonized as being an evil threatening the good of our society that must be censored to protect the greater good. And it is not very difficult to get an angry public rallied to "protect their children". It sickens us to see the extent to which the censors will exploit children and the parent's desire to protect their young in order to obtain the censorship that they desire. If these people truly cared about the children, then why do they advocate cutting mothers off of welfare when there aren't enough jobs in this country to go around to give these people a livable wage? Make no mistake about it, it is not the well being of our children that these people are interested in.

We at Rock Out Censorship urge you to take a strong stance against the censors in your MTV News segments. It is vital for fans of all forms of music to hear a voice supporting freedom and exposing the censors for what they truly are. Rock Out Censorship does everything we can with our extremely limited resources to accomplish this, but the music industry desperately needs a voice that can reach the masses to stand up and fight instead of everyone cowardly remaining neutral and seeking compromise to avoid a fight. How many artists, fans, and record store clerks/owners will have to be arrested before the music industry takes a stand?

Sincerely,

Kenny Moore
Florida State Representative
Rock Out Censorship

John Woods
Founder
Rock Out Censorship

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