Censorship: An Attack On The United States Constitution Essays Example
How can music, the so-called universal language, which crosses cultures, countries, religions, socioeconomic status, and race, while offering genres that anyone can gravitate towards, be censored? While our society may collectively enjoy music's diversity, controversy surrounding censorship has fueled an ongoing dialogue about what one may be allowed to view, listen, and experience. Historically speaking, artists have been creating music since time immemorial. Since prehistoric times, tribal music and dance have been a part of everyday cultural expression. More recently, the US Bill of Rights declared that American citizens are guaranteed the Constitutional right to freedom of speech and expression, and music is one of the most significant forms of protected, personal expression.
Music connects people through shared experiences, experiences that are represented by the lyrics in the music -- ranging from themes such as heartbreak to sexuality. Nowadays, much of the community, or society in general, judges music more harshly than ever, and many have argued that there is more violence and sexually-oriented lyrics in today's music, as contrasted with the past. Although this may be true, some people’s point of view on censorship differs from others. For example, some people feel that censorship runs counter to the letter and intent of the first amendment, whereas some feel that society -- and the law -- should be responsible for which music is acceptable, upholding community "standards". Regardless, censorship is wrong, and clearly infringes on the right to freedom of speech and expression, as articulated by the framers of the US Constitution.
Censorship can be defined as “the regulation or suppression of writing or speech that is considered harmful to the common good or a threat to national security." Although censorship can be carried out by private individuals or corporations, the term is typically used to refer to government efforts to control speech or media content. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that “Congress shall make no lawabridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” There are exceptions to this guarantee of freedom of expression, however, with some classes of speech enjoying "greater protection than others” (Opposing Web Viewpoints). As the Constitution has been challenged by many citizens on a nearly daily basis, one can witness the number of censorship topics that occur -- from music, social media, books, videos, and performance. Many people are questioning censorship, and its overreach on a daily basis, as in the case banning specific performances by creative artists such as Ciara Princess Harris.
It does not require much imagination to visualize that, instead of living in a country where people make their own informed decisions on entertainment, there are nefarious corporations backing a government that can dictate what the sovereign people may listen to or sing -- whether they are in public places, or in the comfort of their own homes. Although there are other places outside of the US that do not honor freedom of expression or speech, one needs to be mindful that, if the people are not cautious, they may soon find themselves engaged in a dogged struggle to hold on to their fundamental Constitutional rights.
As an illustration, when an artist is banned from performing because TV producers or executives express disdain for the artist's dance movements, lyrics, and even clothing associated with the performance, censorship borders dictatorship, and in effect, disregards the first amendment. Ciara Princess Harris, known as “Ciara”, a hip hop music performer, (Biography in Context, internet), was banned from the high-profile Black Entertainment Television (BET) awards, and was unable to perform her single song titled “Ride”, featuring Ludacris. BET decided that her performance expressed explicit lyrics and sexual choreography. In contrast, BET allowed Ciara to perform at another ceremony that directly influences young girls, the “Girls Rock” awards. When BET took the stance on who should be banned and what the audience is allowed to see, it stripped the individual's rights to exercise viewer discretion. Refusing to allow viewers the opportunity to simply change the channel if they deem the performance as distasteful or over-sexualized, reinforces the interpretation that the network is infringing on the rights of viewers.
Moreover, music not only makes a person want to dance and sing along, but it also offers a holistic energy as well. Thus, it helps people feel better, and can change their mood from one emotion to another. Not only are people impacted by sounds, animals are affected as well. Researchers have studied the brain, especially the limbic system, according to the National Academy of Sciences (Biomusic program), and Theorist Patricia Gray asserts that music existed long before race. In this case, there were studies performed that led researchers to the opinion that, "The fact that whale and human music have so much in common, even though our evolutionary paths have not intersected for 60 million years, suggests that music may predate humans—that rather than being the inventors of music, we are latecomers to the musical scene." Thus, these finding reiterate the long-standing relationship of animals with music. Whether fast or slow, happy or sad, music is a powerful tool and motivation for people.
Equally, music in and of itself, has helped to impact and to bridge some cultural divides according the research of Thomas Fritz, from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences. According to Fritz, “It’s often said that a picture is worth a thousand words but the same image can have different meanings across cultures.” The study also found that, in spite of culture or exposure, all people experience emotions of happiness, sadness and fear as well, through the power of music (Fritz). Because of the significance and measure of enjoyment derived from music, individual censorship has been practiced for many years, yet people are able to discern for themselves what they like or dislike about an artist's music and performance.
Another point to consider is that the same explicit lyrics and sensual performances are quite profitable, and are even more acceptable in our community and society. A recent study by State University of New York in Albany discovered that the messages about sexual and sexual relationships actually dominate the charts, selling more than other songs. (McKinley). Thus, when one turns on a radio, IPod, or plays TV videos, a decision is inadvertently made as to whether the viewer or listener agrees to censor or not censor certain music. Music consumers are actually promoting, and investing a lot of money in this type of music and artistry.
Meanwhile, the viewing (or listening) audience is sometimes caught between whether or not an artist should accept some measure of responsibility regarding how women are exploited, what kinds of themes children may be exposed to, or negative ideas affecting youth, as well as who may be offended. Music is supposed to be, and has always been for entertainment purposes. As a society, people are free to make choices that fit within the Constitutional narrative without the seemingly-innocuous "guidance" of external agencies, the government, and corporations. Censorship of Ciara, or any other artist, is inherently wrong, and does not square with either the letter or intent of the first amendment of the United States Constitution.