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CON: One shouldn't decide what's morally OK for everyone

By BY JESSICA PRIEST - JPRIEST@VICAD.COM
Jan. 20, 2013 at 10:05 p.m.
Updated Jan. 20, 2013 at 7:21 p.m.


Ke$ha's song was unfairly taken out of context, fan Brandyn Burris says.

The 22-year-old Victoria hair stylist lamented the song's drop in popularity but was encouraged by the fact that the scandal probably won't harm the overall sales of Ke$ha's second album, "Warrior."

Burris said that those offended by the lyrics could have easily changed the station and that no one wants to be held accountable for their actions nowadays.

"Even though it was a horrible tragedy, we're being too overly cautious. It was not as though she was saying go and get a gun," Burris said.

Temple Northup, an assistant professor of communications at the University of Houston, wasn't sure if KVIC's decision could legally be considered censorship, as that action generally occurs when there is political or governmental pressure to stifle creativity for ideological reasons.

He said it appears the station was just being mindful of a country in mourning. It's something he said has occurred throughout history, most recently after 9/11, a time when disagreeing with the United States' infringement of its citizens' rights to privacy would have been perceived as unpatriotic.

"I don't know if that level of sensitivity is needed, especially in an area (like Victoria) so far removed (from Newtown, Conn.)," Northup said. "Our memories are pretty short-lived, and so we find that, I think, things pretty quickly return to the status quo."

Michael Albrecht, an assistant professor of communication at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla., suspected that KVIC made the decision because it was looking to make a buck.

"The question becomes murkier when it's a private company. And what is the responsibility of a private company (versus a governmental entity)?" Albrecht said. "If you think of radio stations as being first and foremost a means of advertising, then it's sort of bad advertising to make someone sad or disturbed. ... The industry can kind of make its own rules."

Albrecht also said there's never been any correlation between the types of media people consume and whether they'll go on to commit violent acts. He said the 24-hour news cycle, which brings information to the public's fingertips easily, may magnify issues and make it seem like the world is a more dangerous place than it actually is.

He also said the things we define as "violent" have changed over time.

"From the time we're born, we're given army guys to play with. ... Why was this one song targeted? Why pick on Ke$ha?" Albrecht asked.

Lisa Moats, 54, of Victoria, said music isn't the reason people are violent; an absence of God is.

She pointed to biblical times and the story of Cain and Abel that show murder has to be in one's heart beforehand.

"Man is depraved, and that's the way it's going to move without God," Moats said.

She doesn't condone violent lyrics but appreciated someone's right to write and sing them.

"I'm all for freedom of speech. Once you start saying 'no' to this or 'no' to that, you put a foot in the door," she said.

Michael O'Neal, the communications coordinator of the National Coalition Against Censorship, declined to comment specifically about the KVIC's decision. He said taking away the right of people to reach their own conclusions about a piece of art is a form of censorship.

His organization has worked in the past with YouTube on establishing a policy in which nudity, specifically in interpretive dance, can appear on their site.

"It's the equivalent of sticking your fingers in the ears and singing, 'Na, na, na. I can't hear you,'" O'Neal said. "It is No.1, probably a distraction from actual action that could be taken if people are concerned about the problems of our day, and two, it marginalizes the perspectives and identities that are reflected in the type of art that they're removing from the public."

He said singer Rihanna also hasn't been immune from criticism, especially for her song "S&M."

"Some may see that as inappropriate; others may see that as a fine example of an adult woman talking about her own empowerment and her own choices and preferences in terms of her sexuality," O'Neal said. "That is an integral part of the human experience."

Northup was grateful that the Constitution is a fluid, living document where these sorts of debates can take place.

"The beauty of the amendments is they're not exactly clear. It's impossible in my view to know exactly what the Founding Fathers would think today because there was no music back then that there is today," he said.

Related stories:

PRO: Music evoking sex, violence is "toxic" and has no place on air

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