Opera star Beverly Sills, at a Catholic fund-raiser, denounced violence and explicit sex in the arts. But she added that "you can't criminalize imagination."

"We have laws today that tell us we can't smoke on airplanes, but you can freely sing - if you'll pardon the expression - about the joys of violating a woman's body in monstrous detail on commercial recordings because it's a constitutional right," Sills said."We do not need self-appointed vigilantes to insist upon legislating artistic work, because you can't legislate taste," Ms. Sills said. "You can't criminalize imagination. You shouldn't throw artists in jail."

Instead, she said, higher moral standards are needed.