House Bill 1170--Georgia's Rep. Vernon Jones Uses "Tipper" Stickers Against Minors

by Todd Wiese

On Tuesday, January 2, a bill was introduced in the Georgia General Assembly by Representative, Vernon Jones, that would make the sale of any recording bearing a "parental advisory" sticker to anyone under 18 a criminal act. Ignoring Joel Flatow from the RIAA who spoke out against this legislation, the special Judiciary Committee voted 5-3 in favor of HB-1170. These types of attempts to achieve un-Constitutional government censorship are becoming more and more common in the United States. Similar bills are also being proposed or are being seriously discussed in several states. All such legislation is being pushed under the guise of "protecting the children".

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As Recording Industry Association of America's Vice President of Governmental Affairs, Joel Flatow, himself put it, this bill "adversely affects consumers, retailers, parents and the music industry throughout Georgia. It takes a voluntary program and burdens it with criminal consequences....It will discourage retailers from carrying music with the advisory label (as Walmart and Kmart have already done -ed.) in order to reduce their exposure to criminal prosecution. As such, the bill does precisely what the First Amendment prohibits: chilling the free expression of artists."

Vernon Jones tried to counter this argument by suggesting that keeping kids from buying certain types of music was the intent of the RIAA all along. "Retailers haven't called me to oppose this. Parents haven't called me to oppose this," he proclaimed.

Rock Out Censorship has been fighting the censorship of Tipper Gore's "parental advisory" stickers since the late 1980's. The RIAA caved into threats back then when they accepted the "voluntary" sticker program. And now, when they finally stand up to censorship, it's already gone to far! It's no longer voluntary and it is our position that those that pushed for the stickers in the first place intended to use them to push unconstitutional legislation such as this all along. We counter Vernon Jones ridiculous statement with this: The warning label was supposed to be a tool to help parents in making parental guidance decisions. It is NOT supposed to be a tool for the state to effectively become the parents by unconstitutionally restricting access to ALL minors.

As long as the RIAA continues to seek compromise when it comes to our First Amendment rights, bills like this will continue to pop up all over the country. We urge the RIAA to not only stand their ground against such blatantly unconstitutional legislation, but to scrap the entire warning label system altogether because it is increasingly clear that the enemies of free speech have much more in mind than was initially claimed back in the 1980's during the Senate Hearings that brought the warning label system into being in the first place.

You can help stop this bill by calling Georgia Rep. Vernon Jones yourself. Help stop creeping censorship in Georgia by contacting the following people:

- HB 1170's sponsor -
Georgia State Representative, Vernon Jones (D-071)
Legislative Office Building
Room 509
Atlanta, GA 30334

P.O. Box 361360
Decatur, GA 30036-1360
Tel. (404) 656-0220
Capital (770) 593-3930
District: http://www2.State.Ga.US/Legis/1997_98/house/gash071.htm
E-mail :

Also, contact your own GA Representative and tell them to vote against this bill!


Members are listed by name and district.

- Co-Sponsors -
Bobby Franklin (District 39 R-Marietta)

Charlie Smith (District 175 D-St Marys)

Sharon Tense (District 8 R-Atlanta)
e-mail: stense@legis.state.GA.US

Larry Walker (District 141 D-Perry)
e-mail: lawalker@legis.state.GA.US

Jim Martin, Chairman
State Capitol, Room 132
Atlanta, GA 30334

Roy Barnes, V. Chair
Legislative Office Building, Room 611
Atlanta, GA 30334

Ben Allen
Leg. Off. Bldg, Rm 512
Atlanta, GA 30334

Tom Bordeaux
State Cap. Room 109
Atlanta, GA 30334

Thomas Campbell
Leg. Off. Bldg Room 401
Atlanta, GA 30334

Robert Crawford
Leg. Off. Bldg Room 412
Atlanta, GA 30334

J. Max Davis
Leg. Off. Bldg Room 404
Atlanta, GA 30334

Scott Dix
Leg. Off. Bldg Room 411
Atlanta, GA 30334

Greg Hecht
Leg. Off. Bldg Room 512
Atlanta, GA 30334

Glenn Richardson
Leg. Off. Bldg Room 611
Atlanta, GA 30334

Doug Teper
Leg. Off. Bldg Room 613
Atlanta, GA 30334

Scott Tolbert
Leg. Off. Bldg Room 504
Atlanta, GA 30334

Larry Walker
State Capitol Rm 415
Atlanta, GA 30334

Allen Hammontree
Leg. Off. Bldg 409
Atlanta, GA 30334

Robert Reichert
Leg. Off. Bldg 601
Atlanta, GA 30334

Source: Mass. M.I.C.

RIAA Vice President of Governmental Affairs
Joel Flatow
Recording Industry Association of America
1330 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: 202-775-0101

(You might want to remind them that, although we're thankful they're standing up to this bill, if they hadn't caved-in to the PMRC back in 1985, we wouldn't be facing legislation like this in the first place.)

To read more about the PMRC and R.O.C.'s action against them over the years, see:

Other bills to watch:

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