I’ve been getting lots of e-mail from friends in places such as Jerusalem, Madrid, and Moscow, and it’s interesting to hear street-level reactions to the latest world events. But nowhere have reactions been as interesting as right here at home.
Thanks to the 1996 telecommunications act—which basically consolidated ownership and control of the airwaves for a few corporations—the Clear Channel Communications company, which owns over 1,200 radio stations and 20 television stations (including KPAY, KMIX, KHHZ, and KHSL in Butte County) gets to decide what a lot of people hear. It was also caught in an embarrassing little censorship story recently. It seems the station sent e-mails to radio station directors “encouraging” that certain songs not be played in light of the tragedies. Here is a sampling of the over 162 songs allegedly on the list:
Queen, “Another One Bites the Dust”
Van Halen, “Jump”
R.E.M., “It’s the End of the World”
Talking Heads, “Burning Down the House”
Pat Benatar, “Love Is a Battlefield”
John Lennon, “Imagine”
Bob Dylan, “Blowin’ in the Wind”
ALL Rage Against the Machine songs
ALL Cat Stevens
Paul McCartney, “Live and Let Die”
U2, “Sunday, Bloody Sunday”
Peter, Paul & Mary, “Leavin’ on a Jet Plane”
The Zombies, “She’s Not There”
Norman Greenbaum, “Spirit in the Sky”
Paper Lace, “The Night Chicago Died”
Cult, “Fire Woman”
Beastie Boys, “Sabotage”
James Taylor, “Fire and Rain”
Bruce Springsteen, “I’m on Fire”
Blue Oyster Cult, “Burnin’ For You”
(And my favorite) The Bangles, “Walk Like an Egyptian”
As you can see, many of the selections have a tenuous connection to anything controversial, and some are just downright scary (Lennon’s “Imagine"? All Cat Stevens just because he’s Muslim???)
Regional Senior VP of Programming Jack Evans insisted in a later press release that management did not initiate the list; rather that program directors just began e-mailing each other with concerns. Evans said that CCC “did not ban any songs,” which appears to be a matter of opinion.
We have to ask ourselves many things in the aftermath of this event, and an area of growing concern appears to be our civil liberties. When the real ownership power resides in the hands of so few, everyone should watch out for abuses. My pal, the Rev. Eleven asks us to consider, “What the hell is the world coming to when Sha Na Na’s ‘Hey Hey’ is considered too controversial?”
As for the possibility of our upcoming attack, I leave you with a few lines from Auden.
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.
1. CN&R Best of Party
3. Pharcyde 10/11
4. Cronkite on Letterman
5. Nostradamus predicting the "Return of His Airness to the NBA"