On June 30, 1998 the Michigan State Senate voted against the "concert ratings" bill, SB1100, 17 to 15, with 4 members absent. However, the door was left open for it to be reintroduced, for the bill was referred back to the Families, Mental Health and Human Services Committee for further amendments. Sending it back to committee shows that, even though the bill was defeated, it will pop up again; Senator Shugars will certainly make sure of that. This is the third time that Shugars has amended this bill in an attempt to compromise with his foes and failed. Do not be surpised AT ALL if this bill is amended a fourth, fifth or even ninth time.
As of now, there is no committee hearing scheduled on the bill. SB1100 seeks to allow each community to rate individual popular music concerts as "harmful to minors." If this bill is ever passed, each community would be allowed to decide, based on past shows and albums, whether anyone under 18 should be allowed to attend. As mentioned in the initial Incident Update, the standards that each concert will be judged by is as follows: "Acts that are violent or destructive, limited to human or animal mutilation, dismemberment, murder, suicide, rape, torture, or illegal use of drugs...when considered as a whole, and in the context for which it is used, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors." The wording of this bill is highly ambiguous. It is reaching past defining "obscene" to judging what has merit and artistic value.
SB1100 was defeated by a very narrow margin, and while there were 17 legislators voting against it, there WERE 15 who voted for it. While this narrow victory is obviously great news, the fight against this bill and others which are similar to it is far from over. The tactic of legislators like Senator Dale Shugars is to continually push these types of bills down the throats of their constituents until they are finally passed in one form or another. Despite the defeat of SB1100 this year, we at the ROC will be shocked if it is not back in one form or another next year.
And while this bill was defeated in Michigan, there is no guarantee that a similar bill will not crop up in the state you reside in now, for bills which seek to restrict your constitutional right to express yourself are becoming increasingly more popular with politicians. These politicians realize that repressive bills like SB1100 play on a certain segment of the population. Politicians seem to prefer to get this type of bill passed to scapegoat the music industry for society's ills than to pass any legislation that tackles the real problems.
So while you celebrate the defeat of SB1100 in Michigan, remember this: the war of repression being waged by the legislators of this country is far from over. We may have won the battle, but we are still at war!