If the music of 2 Live Crew is considered obscene in the land of Miami Vice, then it's obscene in Utah, says the Miami attorney whose actions led to the Florida banning of the album "As Nasty as They Wanna Be."
Jack Thompson, arguing that obscenity is not protected as free speech, participated in a censorship debate hosted by Utah Valley Community College Wednesday.Music producer John Morris argued against censorship. Morris was the production supervisor for the 1969 music festival Woodstock and has produced concerts for Paul McCartney, Pink Floyd and David Bowie.
"I think 2 Live Crew (albums) are crap and boring," said Morris, but he doesn't think anyone has the right to prevent him from listening to their music if he chooses to do so.
The great thing about being an American is being free to say what you want, Morris said. He is opposed to attempts to control what you can say, see or think.
Thompson said obscenity is not protected under the freedom of speech guarantee in the First Amendment of the Constitution any more than is the right to yell "fire" in an auditorium.
Yelling "fire" threatens safety because someone may be trampled. The message of 2 Live Crew threatens women with rape, Thompson said. An 8-year-old girl memorized 2 Live Crew lyrics and taught them to other girls at school. Thompson said the lyrics, which are abusive to women, upset the children to the extent that many needed counseling.
Morris said he didn't think anyone in the audience or any 8-year-old on a playground would be permanently damaged by listening to lyrics. He also said he didn't think the lyrics would cause anyone to act out the violence he hears on a tape.
Thompson countered that there is a connection between behavior and obscenity. He quoted from the final report of the Attorney General's Commission on Pornography that said there is a causal relationship between sexually violent material and anti-social sexual behavior.
"This country is awash in obscenity," said Thompson.
"A society that allows obscene material is a society that doesn't take seriously the brutalization, rape and even murder of women," said Thompson.
Morris said, "Every American citizen should have the freedom to be able to express themselves through music."