The Controversy Concerning Musical Lyrics

Senior Comp.
16 April 1999

In today’s 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 “who’s right” and
“who’s not” continues to be a quagmire in the sea of
society. In a country bent upon political correctness it is
anybody’s guess as to the right one has to their “freedom of
speech”. So who’s 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
political one.

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 today’s
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 doesn’t 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 it’s consumers.
Since the formation of the Constitution, American
citizens have been seeking refuge behind it’s words. In the
case of musical lyrics,