Recently I came across a video series of Dee Snider’s testimony before the US Senate, in which he heroically stood up against that gang of freedom-hating crooks bent on censorship.
As the lead singer of ’80s metal band Twisted Sister, Snider was invited in 1985 to testify after the lyrics of his and other bands’ were labeled by the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) as offensive. One of the band’s songs, “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” was included on a list of tracks called the “Filthy Fifteen” by the PMRC.
Each segment features some of the most smug, immature, and narcissistic behavior one could imagine – and none of it from the rock star. It was apparent that the committee hoped to make a fool of Snider; instead, just the opposite occurred.
Beginning with Snider’s introduction, in which he smashed all rock star stereotypes, to his insistence that parents – and no one else – had a responsibility to protect their children by becoming involved in their lives, the committee members were shown to be what they truly are: arrogant moral busybodies wrapped in self-righteousness. The musician they expected to be an inarticulate dolt turned out to be a highly intelligent and well-reasoned advocate for his industry.
The testimony of Frank Zappa and John Denver, who also spoke against the proposed censorship from the PMRC, is worth watching as well. Like Dee Snider, these two made excellent arguments against the state’s intrusion into civil society and in defense of freedom.
John Denver had this to say on the subject: “Discipline and self-restraint, when practiced by an individual, a family, or a company is an effective way to deal with this issue. The same thing when forced upon a people by their government, or worse, by a self-appointed watchdog of public morals, is suppression.” He too emphasized the role parents should have, and rejected any notion that government ought to have any role in the process.
Frank Zappa went further, denouncing the hearings as nothing more than a smokescreen to provide cover for special tax amendments that needed to be concealed from the public. He also challenged the committee members on the conflict of interest that existed, considering that three members’ wives belonging to a lobbying organization (PMRC) which had been raising money, was given special tax provisions, and had no official member roles.
Sadly though, the censors and tax collectors won. Under pressure from groups like the PMRC, the RIAA agreed to attach warning labels to records containing “explicit content.” The so-called “tape tax” which Zappa was concerned about did eventually pass, and was signed into law by George “No New Taxes” Bush. Nevertheless, thanks to digital technology and programs like YouTube, we can forever keep videos like these in circulation, permanently archiving the misdeeds of the gangsters on Capitol Hill.