Controversy Music Censorship Essays

Music Censorship

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Should Music be Censored?
Once people hear about the United States they automatically relate the country to the word “freedom.” Little do they know that this country has many similarities to countries where censorship plays a major role in their daily lives, due to their government. One of the major issues that involve censorship within the United States is the question whether or not music should be censored; and how will parents or the government decide at what age it is appropriate to allow children to listen to music pertaining profanity? There are two sides to this issue; there are people who are for and there are those who are against censorship in music. At what point does action transcend from a matter of consumer choice to the matter of censorship? I think that the government and parents should not refrain their children from listening to different kinds of music, because once they do that, they deprive their children from knowing what’s happening in our society.
     People that are for the issue of censorship are usually from the older generation. These people consist of government officials that have children of their own. They believe that music pertaining profanity is one of the main factors for the problems that occur in our society. Such problems consist of an increase in violence and drug use amongst adolescents. An example was the incident that occurred at Columbine High School, where the media and others looked towards music as one of the causes for the incident. They feel that the music promotes sex, drugs, and violence. Critics believe that the children are not quite mature to listen to music with profanity in it.
     On the other side of the issue many people think , neither parent nor the government should censor the type of music their children listen to. “By withholding art it goes against the first amendment that deals with freedom of speech, stated as; Congress shall make no law representing an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press; or of the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and petition the Government for a redress of grievances (Graham).” Another reason why we should not have music censorship is because is that it makes people aware of what is going on in the world. It opens ideas, and brings a whole new meaning to “art”.

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Music Censorship         Columbine High School         Censorship In Music         Main Factors         Older Generation         Government Should         Profanity         Other Side         Freedom Of Speech        

Music brings people together whether it’s rap, rock, the blues or any other genre that might contain profane words within songs, because its art. Through certain types of songs and lyrics many people might gain a sense of understanding towards one race or another’s way of living. An example is children from the suburbs gain a sense of what life is like for some people ( especially minorities) growing up in an urban area through rap music.
     Within the First Amendment the phrase “ freedom of speech” goes hand in hand with music. So why do the government and some parents still have a great concern for censoring the music that their children listen to? It is a learning process.
     The people that tend to strive for a censorship are usually made up of communities, institutions, and corporate attempts to regulate society to their personal beliefs (Graham). Once they attempt to censor music, children will find a way to get a hold of the song or CD regardless of the policy that the store has or how strict their parents are towards them. If a mother tells a child “don’t touch that!”, the child automatically becomes curious of why they should not touch that specific item, and eventually the child will find a way to touch it; the same concept applies to censoring music. Another example is also seen in retail stores such as big department stores and small music retailers. When it comes to a variety of music small retailers is the place to go, while Kmart and Walmart has a certain guidelines to what CD’s can be sold within their stores. According to Walmart: “it is the distributors and record companies that have the responsibility to identify the product as altered, not retailer” (Sonoma). This does not make any sense because it is a free country.
     While people bicker about censoring music because it causes violence, well that’s not true. First and foremost, countries that have the policy of censoring everything in site are facing civil wars. Did music lead them to war? During the medieval ages did music play a major role in beginning wars between the Barbadians or better yet the Holy War?
No it did not, so why do people think that music pertaining profanity is a major factor for sex, drugs and violence in today’s society?
     “If you loose one hair, you aren’t considered to be bald. The same is true if you lose one hundred hairs. At some point between a full head of hair and Mr. Clean, you become bald. The issue is that no one can tell you where that threshold lies. The same goes for music censorship”(Graham). No one can actually say what is right and what is wrong, parents, the government, pastor, or teacher can give a definite answer on whether or not they should censor music.

                         Works Cited
Graham, Martha. “A Brief History of Banned Music in the United States- Introduction.

Morse, Steve. “Up against the Wal-mart: Rockers and Rappers claim censorship”.

Censorship In Music

Censorship in music is a topic that has brought about much controversy in the past two decades. There have been many different arguments on the topic, however the question still remains as if it should be censored or it should not be censored.

Before you can form an opinion on this, you must hear both sides of the argument on this much-debated topic. Some people believe that music should be censored so all audiences can hear it without it containing any controversial lyrics. Others believe it should not be censored and musical artists should be able to speak, sing, rap, or rhyme freely without anyone censoring them.

"Whether a person finds a work obscene depends largely on his or her moral or religious beliefs. These views change with each generation and further complicate the censorship dilemma." (Censorship by, Bradley Steffens page 97)

The quote above is very true. Religious or moral beliefs have a great influence on how a person feels about censorship, and as generations pass on the common beliefs on it may change. Right now, America is more uncensored than ever. However, things were very different a few generations ago.

Some people believe music should be censored. They believe some of the language musical artists use is vulgar, obscene, and crude. Also the fact that music is played on medias such as radio and television, which are free to listen to by all audiences, and there are many parents that would not wish for their kids to hear foul language. So on radio and televison any controversial language is either silenced, edited out by a soft sound, or some artists make two versions of their songs; one that is made for the artist's album, which is uncensored; and one for televsion and radio with any controversial words change to be acceptable for all audiences. This does not include cable television, which can be audited by parents since the parents must order and pay for the channel to be viewed.

"Preventing or punishing speech is a clear violation of the First Amendment."

(Censorship. Opposing Viewpoints by, Greehaven Press page 147). This quote here is the "battle cry" of many anti-censorship groups. When you really think about it, it is a violation of the First Amendment, which says: "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech or of the press". The First Amendment guarantees the right to freedom of speech, and censorship is violating peoples' rights to say whatever they want to say. It is sometimes difficult to understand when a child gets punished for using foul language meanwhile the child's parents have the right to critiscize and petition the government whenever they feel the need to do so. Many musical artists feel that when they are forced to change lyrics their rights are being violated. In some artists' songs they like to express their feelings towards somebody or something, and it hurts them to be censored because the new words implemented are not from his or her heart. They feel that they are being held down.

Due to the amendment made by our founding fathers I do not believe there will ever be an answer to the question whether or not music should be censored. The way I see it, it should not be censored. Many children often hear explicit language from older siblings or parents at an early age. They believe that since someone they look up to uses those words, they should too. Eventually, everyone will be exposed to language they do not find acceptable. Foul language is not permitted on medias such as television or radio because it is an all audience media. However, on albums the artist is allowed to use any words he or she sees fit.

"The vexing question, of course, is, Who should decide what you read or view- the church, the state or you?" (War of Words: The Censorship Debate by George Beahm page xiii) In my opinion, the answer to that question is: you. Censorship on television channels such as Nickelodeon , or PBS is understandable due to the fact that mostly young children programming is broadcasted on those stations. However I find it unnecessary to censor stations generally viewed by older audiences. It is now a requirement by law for record companies to put stickers on tapes and compact discs that say: "Parental Advisory. Explicit Lyrics". The reason that law was passed was because many angry mothers and fathers sued artists and/or record companies for releasing albums that contained explicit lyrics, and now their child goes and repeats their newly learned words to people such as their teachers, principals, and other friends who then spread word around to their parents. I would tend to believe that many of those parents used those same bad words in front of their children at one time or another. They probably did not say it to their face, but the fact still remains that the child heard his or her parents say those words, thus the child assumes it is normal to say that word. Many parents also complain that the art on music albums' covers and insides. They argue saying that too is vulgar and should not be allowed.

I believe music should not be censored due to our First Amendment right. When a parent hears foul language on their child's stero or television, they should not complain to the network or record company, they should complain to themselves. The government is doing all they legally can to protect the childrens' young ears from the foul language that is out there. If a parent hears their child listening to foul language, they should not complain to anyone but themselves. If they do not wish for their child to hear foul language they should have supervised their children more closely. If they take their child to a record store and buy them a new tape or c.d., the parent should have listened to the music by him or herself and scan for anything questionable. If they don't like the content, they can always return it to the store. This way they can be positive that their child is listening to music that is acceptable in their eyes.

In conclusion, censorship in music is wrong in my opinion. Artists should be allowed to say whatever they want. That is what our founding fathers based this country uopn: freedom. The government is doing an excellent job in making the First Amendment suitable for all. If parents have a problem with it, it is because they did not properly supervise their children.


Beahm, George. War of Words, Ed. George Beahm. Kansas City, MO 1993

Greenhaven Press. Censorship. Opposing Viewpoints, Ed. Lisa Orr. San Diego, CA

Steffens, Bradley. Censorship. Ed. Lucent Books

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