16 April 1999
In todays society, adolescents are feeling the
increasing controversial tension within the aspect of
musical lyrics. Whether we ponder the ethical framework of
gansta rap or metal music each instill a viewpoint that
have advocates against this freedom of expression at wits
end. As a result, a tug-of-war as to whos right and
whos not continues to be a quagmire in the sea of
society. In a country bent upon political correctness it is
anybodys guess as to the right one has to their freedom of
speech. So whos right?
Presently, the answer is blockaded by a barrage of
protests and arguments, and therefore one must establish
their own mindset towards this controversy. In order to
assist in this process, an overview of both sides of the
argument must be examined. In addition, I plan to supply my
own opinion on the subject. Lastly, I will apply the
religious point of view so that one might be able to shape
their opinions from a moral stand point as opposed to a
All over the world, youths are listening to musical
groups such as 2 Live Crew, Nine Inch Nails, and Snoop
Doggy Dogg. The fact is that parents and numerous
politicians are speaking out against the lyrical content of
their work. They consistently refer to their artistry as
gross, violent, offensive, and misogynistic…(p.1028 The
CQ Researcher). All in all, they believe that todays
adolescents are being corrupted. Basically, young minds are
being manipulated to think in a way that completely
contradicts what many see as morally right. Furthermore,
anti-gantsta rap and metal music advocates intently stand by
and concentrate on how easily adolescent minds are
influenced. So, in the minds of individuals like U.S. News
and World Report columnist John Leo, the first amendment
concerns about controlling offensive lyrics are
outweighed…(p.28 Bender & Leone). Freedom of speech must
be pushed aside in this instance, so that we might ensure a
healthy development for generations to come.
As the battle continues, gansta rap and metal music
opposition consistently cites examples of the negligence and
abuses in this aspect of the music industry. To begin with,
there is a tremendous outpouring of rage directed towards
the frequent degradation of women. Many are forced to ask
the question, Why should our daughters have to grow up in a
culture in which musical advice on the domination and abuse
of women is accepted as entertainment(p.28 Bender & Leone)?
As a result, rap opposition has targeted specific
groups for this injustice. One in particular is rap group 2
Live Crew. They have sold hundreds of thousands of records
which contain lyrics condoning sexual injustices against
women. For instance, there are songs which involve such
acts as forcing anal sex on a girl then forcing her to lick
the excrement(p.28 Bender & Leone). Despite the vulgarity
of such examples, rap opposition believe that such extremes
must be taken to prove the damage lyrics of this caliber are
inflicting. In turn, rap opposition deeply consider their
request for the censoring of obscene music as justified.
One might possibly ask what the opposition is doing
besides complaining about controversial lyrics. It turns
out that citizens such as Delores C. Tucker and William J.
Bennett are taking matters into their own hands. Tucker, a
liberal Democrat and head of the National Political Congress
of Black Women, and Bennett, a conservative Republican and
former Education Secretary, joined forces to attack the rap
and metal industry. They spared all aggravation and headed
straight for the top. Tucker and Bennett comprised an
attack against one of the leading distributors, Time Warner.
Numerous meetings, and a vast amount of press coverage
finally convinced Time Warner to dissolve their relations
with such successful rap acts as Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre. In
addition, the metal group Nine Inch Nails was also released
from the company. As far as the anti-rap and metal
advocates were concerned, this was a significant victory to
put under their belt. They were on their way to altering
society in the ways for which they saw as morally correct.
With a slight understanding of the opposition movement,
the stage is set for the presentation of the mindset
surrounding pro rap and metal affiliates. After all, their
ideals have seemed to maintain their position in the
mainstream. The music produced by this
industry is in high demand, and presently, it doesnt seem
like this trend will die off. All this in mind, we will now
examine the ideals revolving around the rap and metal
industry and its consumers.
Since the formation of the Constitution, American
citizens have been seeking refuge behind its words. In the
case of musical lyrics, the record industry couples them
with freedom of speech. As stated in the constitution, it
is an Americans right to say what he/she may feel. If this
privilege were eliminated, we would find ourselves in an
extremely censored society. Individuals would be unable to
know the whole truth, and would therefore be in the dark on
many issues that directly affect them. In the eyes of
Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page, censorship of
musical lyrics would lead to somewhat of a domino effect;
Today Hustler, tomorrow Playboy. Today Mapplethorpe,
tomorrow Time magazine. Today flag burning, tomorrow an
essay that advocates flag burning(p.33 Bender & Leone).
All in all, Page and people much like him, in views,
believe that if we dont abide by the Constitution once, it
will, in effect, open the door to numerous abuses.
The record industry also defends itself through the
usage of one mans worst enemies, the past. They
continuously argue the fact that before there was gansta
rap, there were gangsters…(p.8 Billboard). In actuality
this statement is completely true. The fact is that the
opposition realizes that gangsters and crime have been
around since the beginning of time, but they believe this
form of musical expression serves as a catalyst. This
basically means that rap and metal music contribute to the
problem. As a reaction, the record industry believes that
crime will exist for as long as there is man. Furthermore,
they believe it will not matter if music is censored or not.
The existence of crime will always be present and therefore
a nuisance to the environment for which we live in.
The record industry also plays the defensive by
expressing that they believe lyrics of such a filthy nature
are intentional. They strongly feel that lyrics of this
society a look into a world for which one should veer away
from; a world of death, a world of criminality, and a world
of corruption. The lyrics that one would find on these
records are derived from an individual who experienced what
we shouldnt. He is therefore, expressing his experiences
by a means for which he finds suitable. As a result,
musicians believe that there is some kind of bias going
towards what they believe is art.
At this point in time, the tragedy at Columbine High
School ties in perfectly with the flow of this argument. As
far as we know, two students walked into their public school
and proceeded to pummel down classmates in a flurry of
gunshots. Fifteen students were killed and numerous injured.
Families were broken, and dreams distinguished.
As a result, the media needed someone or something to blame
as a cause for these boys to create the largest school
massacre to date. They found an easy target in the music
the boys listened to. They blamed various artists,
including the well known and controversial Marylyn Manson.
As far as the media sees it, it couldnt completely be the
fault of the two boys, but rather the influences of
distasteful lyrics. As usual, the media has attacked the
recording industry further engulfing the already powerful
fire within the controversy of anti-lyrical affiliation.