Anti-Music Legislation Introduced in New York State Assembly

by Sly Spurling

It's said that "if at first you don't succeed, try again," but it's also said that "A dumb idea doesn't get any better as it gets older." New York State Assemblyman Robert D'Andrea (R-Saratoga) could learn something from that last saying, as he's once again trying to curtail the free flow of information via an anti-music bill.

His current proposed legislation before the New York State Assembly would prohibit the sale of "sexually explicit" or "violent" recordings to minors. D'Andrea tried this once before back in 1995 and the bill was defeated. He even admits now that the current bill is unlikely to become law this time, but he's going to go ahead with it anyway. What a wonderful way to use taxpayers' resources: maybe he could organize a 'beat your head against the brick wall' session while he's at it?

Using the standard opening line of those introducing censorious, Puritan legislation, D'Andrea says he's "concerned" about First Amendment issues, but that "societal concerns" outweigh some speech. "You really can't say 'fire' in a movie hall," D'Andrea said, "And I think certain things should be considered, such as language that is really not normal in our society." "I don't want to curtail anyone's right to free speech, but I don't want to see this stuff out in the general public as a standard of doing business." [Editor's note: He doesn't want to curtail anyone's right to free speech, but he introduces legislation to curtail everyone's right to free speech. Hmm, what's wrong with this picture? We certainly do wish that the censors would stop trying to convince us about how much they are against censorship.]

Music industry officials denounce such bills as restrictive on the free-speech rights of listeners and musicians, and they also note that the industry's advisory standard - the "Tipper Stickers" we all know and loathe - is a voluntary one. If the Government steps in, that's censorship.

Of course, just about everyone involved in this case is WRONG. If D'Andrea thinks that someone saying "fuck" on a CD i the exact same as someone shouting "fire" in a crowded movie theatre he ought to try getting trampled sometime. There is a world of difference between the two, and trying to tie a connection between the pair is silly.

And, also, we shouldn't forget that the only reason those stickers are on the CDs in the first place was because the RIAA was scared that if they didn't "voluntarily" place them, the Government was going to get involved. Volunteering with a gun pointed to your head is not volunteering. And now those stickers act as little targets for legislators and local, blue-hair vigilante groups who want to get that stuff out of everyone's hands. Need we say more about why those damned stickers need to go? NOW?!?!?

Those in the New York area should contact their Assemblymen to make sure this bill doesn't get anywhere. You can get their addresses to contact them by looking them up at:

http://assembly.state.ny.us/Members/

Assemblyman D'Andrea's address is singled out for special attention below. he probably needs a little polite re-education on why shouting "fire" in the theatre and screaming "fuck" at the concert are a little different. He doesn't list an email address, so write him up as soon as possible.

But most importantly, we've included the address for the RIAA, as well as the email of a contact person. Be sure to contact them as well, and let them know that those stickers are way more trouble than they're worth...and that their policy of appeasement with the censors in the form of the stickers is a doomed strategy that must be stopped. The RIAA justification for the stickers has always been that "the stickers are good because they prevent further legislation from happening." Well, it seems to us at ROC that the stickers only invite further legislation, as we have always predicted.

Every year, industry and grass-roots lobbyists have to hit the pavement to defeat anti-music legislation. More than a few had to be countered just last year. This February, the entertainment industry had to mobilize to defeat a North Dakota bill that would have enable their cities to pass ordinances restricting the sale of materials considered "harmful to minors." All that fuss over a little Tipper-sticker? Isn't it time the sticker disappeared???

Contact

Robert D'Andrea
Assembly District: 100

Albany Office:
LOB 320, ALBANY, NY 12248
518-455-5404

District Offices:
6 ACADEMY STREET, GREENWICH, NY 12834
518-692-9658

http://assembly.states.ny.us/


Hilary Rosen
c/o the RIAA
1330 Connecticut Avenue N.W., Suite 300
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: (202) 775-0101
Fax: (202) 775-7253.
http://www.riaa.com/

Alexandra Walsh (contact for the RIAA)
202.775.0101
awalsh@riaa.com

NYCLU (ACLU of New York)
Executive Director: Norman Siegel
125 Broad Street, 17th Floor
New York, NY 10004
Phone: (212) 344-3005
http://www.nyclu.org/
email crcnyclu@crisny.org

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