I can already hear the howls of protest. “Censorship!” some will shout. “Freedom of speech!” will become the battle cry of others. “What’s next? Book burning?”
Efforts by school officials to weed out music at school events that includes profanity, sexual innuendo, and inappropriate messages is sure to whip up a frenzy. We live in a society that values liberty, and any attempt to rein in what some will characterize as protected speech is sure to be controversial.
No one can deny that musicians are free to produce whatever music they choose, and people are free to buy it if they want to. That is not the issue in this situation. Students can listen to anything they want on their iPods and car stereos, and all school officials may do is sigh and roll their eyes. After all, this is a free country.
The crux of the issue now before officials is this: What is their responsibility in the context of school-sponsored events? There is an extra layer of obligation upon them. The implied message is that whatever music is played has been sanctioned by the school. The songs appear to have tacit endorsement. The disturbing message of some music makes that problematic.