by T. Ray Verteramo
October 17, 2016
The American presidential election is a circus the whole world watches every four years. However, this year, the competition is not merely between a douche and a turd sandwich (thank you, South Park!), but a controversial, possible historical choice and a genuine threat.
Regardless of what your views may be, regardless of where you stand for civil equality or whether you believe Trump’s “locker room talk” is just that or sex-predatorial behavior, it doesn’t matter. Whether or not you love or hate Donald Trump, if you are a Metalhead, it would be wise to worry about him for one issue and one issue only:
CNN posted an opinion piece, “Trump’s Beef With SNL is No Laughing Matter” crafted by Dean Obeidallah, a sometimes stand-up comic and the co-director of the documentary, The Muslims Are Coming! detailing this very concern, using Trump’s response to Saturday Night Live’s spoof on the second debate. He states:
“All kidding aside, Trump’s tweet that ‘SNL’ needs to be canceled because the show did a ‘hit job’ on him should concern every American. We have a rich tradition of comedy shows skewering our politicians. I can’t recall any President or presidential nominee responding to a TV show mocking him or her by saying it’s time to take that show off the airwaves.
But, then drives the point home:
Although I have performed stand-up in the Middle East, where leaders have shared a similar sentiment. In fact, Egypt’s Jon Stewart, Bassem Youssef, was arrested for mocking the then leader of Egypt and his TV show was ultimately canceled. But is that really a model we want to emulate in the United States?”
There is not one single leader of the free world, or un-free world, in any minute of history that has ever escaped criticism or mockery – that’s the price of power. What do you think the first thing a dictator calls for in order to ensure their absolute reign? They call to shut the people up to make them afraid to speak against them.
Once human expression is controlled, everything is controlled; what we learn, what we see, what we hear, how we live, who to love, George Orwell’s 1984. It starts with censorship.
Consider the difference between Trump’s stomping foot to call for the removal of a piece of theater from our culture and Peron’s control over the press, or Hitler’s demand for books to be burned, or the PMRC’s campaign to treat Heavy Metal the same as porn by limiting the accessible age and venue.
Or did you forget the latter…? It was only 30 years ago. Newsweek — Parental Advisory Forever: An Oral History of the PMRC’s War on Dirty Lyrics
The defunct Parent’s Music Resource Center did not like what Metal had to say. They hated what it stood for and detested Metal’s fearlessness and prowess. They did not like its attitude of self-empowerment, basking on the dark side, and songs of death, blood, fear, desecration, rebellion, violence, sex, and conquest. They did not like what threatened their ideals and they tried to shut us up.
The PMRC wanted to put our heroes in the back room behind beaded curtains along with fist-banging college girls and strange hitchhikers with 13-inch penises picking up more than rides. The disturbing thing was that they nearly succeeded.
What saved us was the powerful testimony of Frank Zappa, Dee Snider, and John Denver reminding the committee about our beloved First Amendment and calling out their fear and ignorance of our art. What we got were warning labels that still do us more good than harm.
But, the shield of the First Amendment may or may not be strong enough for a Commander-in-Chief who would be determined to chip away at its armor the second his fragile ego takes a hit.
Censorship has a domino effect. Do we want to waste our government’s time and resources questioning a human right when it should concentrate on other matters like foreign relations, homeland security, infrastructure, the environment, and the economy? Because that is what can potentially happen.
Vote for who you want. This is neither an endorsement or a slam. But, before you pull those levers and check those boxes, ask yourself how much your music means to you and if you think it’s tough enough to survive a world leader with paper skin.