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Censorship - Music

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Just as the entertainment industry has faced regulation or censorship for allegedly violent, obscene, or indecent material, so has the recording industry. Claiming that some popular music erodes morals by encouraging violence, drug abuse, and sexual promiscuity, the Parents' Music Resource Center, founded in 1985 by Tipper Gore, the wife of the future vice president, ALBERT GORE, successfully lobbied the music industry to place warning labels on records that may feature lyrics inappropriate for children.

Concerned about the rising rate of violent crime against law enforcement officers, the assistant director of public affairs for the FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION (FBI) sent a letter in August 1989 to Priority Records to protest a rap group's lyrics. N.W.A., a Los Angeles-based rap group, recorded on its album Straight Outta Compton the song "Fuck tha Police," which violently protested police brutality. Although the letter from the FBI was a protest, not an attempt at regulation, many in the music industry interpreted it as an example of indirect censorship through intimidation.

Perhaps the most famous legal proceedings to censor music involved the rap group 2 Live Crew. In early 1990, a Florida circuit judge banned all sales of the group's album As Nasty As They Wanna Be on the grounds that the lyrics of several of its songs, including "Me So Horny," violated community standards for obscenity. The group brought suit to have the ban lifted in Skyywalker Records v. Navarro, 742 F. Supp. 638 (S.D. Fla. 1990), but the judge upheld the obscenity ruling. A record store owner was arrested for continuing to sell the album and two members of 2 Live Crew were arrested on obscenity charges after a performance. The band members were acquitted of all charges in October 1990, but the debate continues between those demanding free expression in music and those seeking to censor allegedly obscene material.

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