Pros and Cons of Music Censorship

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In 1967, The Beatles were banned from the BBC, not once but twice. BBC declined to play Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds and A Day in the Life from the Fab Four’s album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The reason? The BBC believed that the songs encouraged drug use.

But it wasn’t just The Beatles who had their works censored. The likes of Madonna, Britney Spears, Metallica, The Rolling Stones and the Sex Pistols have had their works edited or censored.

This begs the question: Is it right to ban an artist’s music from being played because it contains lyrics or words deemed not right? Or is it a violation of their right to express how they feel in their work?

List of Pros of Music Censorship

1. It limits the influence of lyrics that glorify hatred and violence.
Music is very influential, that much is true. So what happens when a young person who is quite vulnerable listens to a catchy tune with lyrics that condones hatred and violence? Some people fear that listening to such music can influence them and as such, aid them in engaging in violent behavior. With music censorship, more people are aware that a work may contain content not suitable for hearing.

2. It limits intolerance.
This is particularly true in the youth. We want to mold young children into adults who understand that you shouldn’t judge a person by the color of their skin, their sexual orientation or their religious belief. Sometimes, music targets a certain individual or society and disrespects them. With censorship, the youth can better discern between what’s right and what’s wrong.

3. It reduces negative stereotyping.
While music has shown to be influential, it can also be harmful. This is especially true when the type of music produced affirms negative stereotypes. As a society, we support it when criminal behavior is punished, why can’t the same be done for negative stereotyping in music?

List of Cons of Music Censorship

1. It is not always on the side of right.
Some artists have had their songs censored because the lyrics were interpreted in a bad way. While some artists to disguise their true intention in their choice of words, this is not always the case.

Sometimes, the lyrics in the song are heard in a different way and as such, it gets censored. For example, radio stations mistakenly thought the line “reaching the fever pitch” in Adele’s Rolling in the Deep was “reaching the fever bitch.”

2. It limits musical freedom.
Artists express themselves through their music. Be it the pain of losing someone or the anger at the government, artists are not shy about what they want to say. Some of these songs can actually inspire and motivate others and censoring them just because of their content deprives both the artist and the listener.

3. It reduces venues for help.
Some people turn to music to cheer them up. What happens when the work of artists they love and admire are censored? The song they are listening to may loose all meaning and as such, a listener might not find it uplifting enough or may find it a bit strange if a word was altered to make it more friendly.