Vox Populi: The O'Shaughnessy Files

By William O’Shaughnessy | Go to book overview

CENSORSHIP IN PARADISE

It is our privilege on WVIP (93.5 FM) in the New York
area to amplify the sweet, vibrant voices of many
emerging “new Americans” who, while providing our
country with their labor, genius, and brilliant music,
continue to retain a keen interest in the beautifully
endowed island nation whence they came. Government
censorship has no place in the Caribbean either. It
threatened to put a chill on the warm Jamaican culture.
Here is how we responded, on February 23, 2009.

The new “rules” announced on Saturday by the Jamaican Broadcast Commission to ban songs and music videos in that magnificent island nation are ill advised. And dangerous.

Prime Minister Bruce Golding is a man of intelligence and character who does not need to be reminded about the wisdom of our First Amendment, which has served America so well for so many years. It is thus to be urgently hoped the prime minister will “crack down” on his own government regulators who are trying to stifle free expression.

The broadcasters of Jamaica are “permittees” and “trustees,” with a fiduciary relationship to the airwaves that rightly and properly belong to the people of their country. Most of them believe that a radio station achieves its highest calling when it resembles a platform, a soapbox.

Someone has to tell the Jamaican Broadcast Commission in no uncertain terms that the popular songs of the day deserve protection—no matter how gross, raucous, raunchy, vulgar, outrageous, or “explicit.”

Some of it ain’t so pretty … but all of it needs to be protected. A song is like an eyewitness report. The writers of those songs write of life in Jamaica, the daily passions of their compatriots, the milieu in which they live. They write in the vernacular and with the currency of the day.

-19-

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