NCAC Censorship News Issue #69:

It’s hard to say what’s most ludicrous about the push…for a rock-concert ratings system. But since we have to start dismantling the false premises of this bad joke somewhere, we may as well start with the notion that a ratings system would not be censorship.

Of course it would be. It would be imposed by the government – if not by law, then through intimidating the music industry into imposing its own ratings system…

The real purpose of a ratings system is to limit the spectrum of entertainment at concerts, plain and simple. That’s precisely what has happened with the ratings systems for TV, movies and records. It’s inane and insulting to suggest otherwise….

Even more incredible is the assumption of several legislators, including Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and South Carolina State Rep. Daniel Tripp, that this country needs a set of standards to regulate any form of mass communication. America has had such a set of standards for more than two centuries. It’s called The Bill of Rights. It was enacted by this nation’s Founding Fathers precisely to prevent such irresponsible politicians as Lieberman and Tripp from waging war against free speech and peaceful public assembly.

Freedom of speech isn’t designed to protect the stuff we agree with, but the stuff that we find repugnant. This right is of no value otherwise.

And if we’re going to label a Marilyn Manson concert as a form of public assembly that’s not peaceful because it incites uncouth behavior, I would suggest that the Republican Party disinvite Pat Buchanan as a speaker at its next national convention.

Parents whose children want to see Marilyn Manson need something more powerful than a ratings system. They need a dialogue with their kids about what the band does and what it means.

As a matter of fact, this dialogue also should take place if the children want to see Wynton Marsalis, Bob (Butterfly Kisses) Carlson or the Promise Keepers. At least with Marilyn Manson, it’s not hard to determine what values are on the table.

I’m quite certain that my kid’s good judgment would prevail even in the face of Marilyn Manson’s sensationalist expose of our culture’s abundant hypocrisies (the lead singer of the band, by the way, classifies his show as political, not commercial, speech).

On the other hand, a pedophilic enticement like Butterfly Kisses, the rank snobbery of Marsalis’ jazz and the disingenuous male chauvinism of the Promise Keepers are all much harder to protect kids against.

Leaving us all to make our own mistakes and reap our own rewards would be a truer expression of “standards and values” than politicians’ sensational, exploitationist proposal. Ratings rob my children and yours of the right to develop and use their good judgment.

If we love our children, we should protect them from, among other things, replacing sound thinking with the mindless bauble that ratings represent.