The decision to hold hearings about song lyrics sends the unmistakable signal to writers, producers, distributors, and broadcasters of this form of music that their actions are under scrutiny and that official intervention, in the form of federal legislation, could descend on them from the wings. These hearings seem designed not to warn parents about content so much as to warn persons in the recording industry then [sic] they must either "voluntarily" alter their product or face new statutory or regulatory initiatives. The threat of forthcoming censorship is palpable. This is particularly true where the product is often marketed through the regulated broadcasting industry. Any "label warning" means that broadcasters will need to decide whether to play "labelled" material and those who ignore the labels will undoubtedly face pressue [sic] at the time of license renewal.
Recent witness lists indicate that a few songwriters will be present to address charges leveled at rock music. It is certain that specific lyrics will be discussed as examples of what is "wrong" with rock music. The writers of all these lyrics will not be present to respond, even if that was their desire. Moreover, creative artists should not even be expected to explain or justify their work in an official forum such as a Congressional hearing.
The ACLU knows that many persons in the recording business feel great distress over Congressional activity in this arena. Although I realize that you are determined to hold these hearings, I wanted to voice out objections and ask that this letter be included in the record of the proceedings.
BARRY W. LYNN,