Klarinet Archive - Posting 000817.txt from 2003/06
From: Jeremy A Schiffer <schiffer@-----.edu>
Subj: RE: [kl] Political postings - ON topic?
Date: Tue, 24 Jun 2003 15:53:00 -0400
On Tue, 24 Jun 2003, Bill Hausmann wrote:
> You are mistaken in your assumption that the White House or any other
> governmental agency in the US can censor artistic expression. The nearest
> to that which can be achieved is denial of government FUNDING for a work,
> and even THAT will be fought over in the courts for years.
But there are myriad ways that government officials can put pressure on
institutions to lead to "self-censorship." For example, let's say someone
does write the OBL symphony, and an orchestra agrees to play it. What
happens when the federal government sends 500 agents to interrogate
everyone who comes to the box office to buy a ticket, and takes down their
name, address, social security number, and place of employment? No, it's
not government censorship, but the idea is clear - if you support this, we
know who you are, and we are watching you. Would you risk your job to buy
a ticket to a concert? I wouldn't, and I don't think most people would.
While this example is a little dramatic, things like this happen all the
time in our (American) society.
> For example, when the Dixie Chicks made their incredible faux
> pas, it was not the GOVERNMENT who rebuked them, but their own fans (and
> non-fans, whose opinion really did not matter, since it cost them
This point is not explicitly correct. The boycott of the Dixie Chicks was
not organized by fans, or non-fans, but by corporate media giants like
Clear Channel (the company that owns nearly half of all popular music
radio stations in America). There were many reports of DJ's having their
jobs threatened by the corporate management for playing the Dixie Chicks
after the no-play edict was issued.
This is corporate censorship, and in a case where an industry is dominated
by one or two large companies, as the radio industry is, it has a chilling
effect on the freedoms we are supposed to be fighting to defend.
When you acknowledge the fact that these media giants pay millions of
dollars to political parties and election candidates, it is naive to
assume there will be no quid pro quo (and yes, Clear Channel gives
boatloads of money to politicians, especially to the party currently in
power). Corporations that make large campaign contributions can, in
many cases, get any law passed or repealed that they ask for, regardless
of public opinion. They serve, in reality, as another branch of
government, when they can send their lobbyists with pre-written
legislation to senators and congressmen for advancement, in return for
their huge soft-money contributions.
There is a huge, but underreported scandal right now in Kansas, about
this very thing. A failing energy company was dumb enough to keep written
documentation of requests made to reps. and the amount of money the
reps. requested in return for fulfilling the requests. Under the law,
this is illegal (direct evidence of $$$ in exchange for influence), but
nothing is likely to happen. You can read about it here:
> It is not GOVERNMENT restriction of
> freedom of either artistic OR political expression, but simply the free
> market working as it was designed to.
This corporate-government alliance is not an example of the free market,
in a good sense; it is an example of what happens when the free market
fails to operate correctly because of undue influence by one party.
Stockholders win, the public loses. Have you turned on a radio since 1996
(the year Clear Channel and Infiniti Broadcasting got their wish and the
Telecommunications Act was passed that deregulated the industry)? It's
become less local (programming is done nationally, with local staffs being
drastically reduced), more homogeneous in terms of content, and has more
commercials. If this is the free market, count me out.
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