Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Appeal for Decency Is Not Censorship

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Appeal for Decency Is Not Censorship

Article excerpt

One of the sure signs of an argument that cannot be answered is that responses to it go off on tangents in all directions. Sen. Bob Dole's recent criticism of violent movies and Time Warner rap music that celebrates rape and murder has provoked a lot of this kind of response.

Margaret Carlin of Time magazine said that it didn't take much courage for Dole to attack Hollywood. Columnist Molly Ivins chimed in that Dole had criticized makers of violent movies who were Democrats but not other violent movie-makers who were Republicans. Besides, she said, "a lot of art is about sex and violence" and you "can't just tell genius to stay away from certain topics."

Dole's courage or partisanship are not the issue. You might think that his record in World War II would have laid the courage issue to rest. But, even if he were the biggest coward in the world, what does that have to do with the truth or validity of what he said? If there were no Dole at all, the issue of glorifying rape and murder to young people would be just what it is today - and no doubt it would be evaded on some other ground.

As for "art" and "genius," nothing could be further from the cheap barbarism of rap lyrics.

Whenever there are standards, someone is going to challenge them. Civilization - let us face it - is often boring and sometimes a real pain. The only reason for putting up with it is that barbarism is far worse. But nothing is more common than to want to thumb your nose at it.

A society that is not prepared to defend its standards will not long have any standards to defend. If shrill voices crying "censorship" are enough to make you cave in to the barbarians, then you may as well declare unconditional surrender once and for all, instead of waiting to see standards fall one by one.

In the sloppy thinking that is as much a symptom of social degeneracy as the rottenness of rap, censorship by government and social disapproval are lumped together and both denounced. No society can be saved by government if the social standards are gone. There will never be enough policemen or enough jails.

Policemen and jails are effective when 5 percent or 10 percent of the population refuse to follow the rules but they are useless when 90 percent or 95 percent desert civilization. …

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