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    Music and Freedom

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    Here we are on a beautiful 4th of July–at least here in the United States, and the issue of freedom with regards to music comes to mind. We are quite lucky here in the US that music, for the most part, is a widely accepted and enjoyed. This isn’t to say that some music hasn’t come under criticism, such as Hip Hop or Heavy Metal, but we enjoy amazing artistic and consumption freedom. In other words, we are very free to create whatever kind of music we want and are free to listen to whatever music we like.

    I know its fashionable to complain about America, on both sides of the fence: Liberals find the US too (whatever), and Conservatives find the US to (whatever else), and the rest, of course, find the US too (something else). However, one thing that most Americans can agree on is that our freedom of speech is one of our most important rights.

    Believe it or not, so many people of the world do not have these express rights. In many parts of the world, certain forms of artistic expression are banned or discouraged. Certain people are banned from performing music, such as in Iran where women are not allowed to perform music in public. Western music has been banned in several countries, and its performance, recording or playback are criminal offenses. The Iraqi band Acrassacauda ended up leaving the middle east so they could perform their music without worrying about the death threats that plagued them while living in Baghdad. Before the fall of the Soviet Union in the 1980’s, Western music was also widely banned.

    Sure, these are the notable examples that horrify most Americans. Of course, there have been and continue to be many notable examples of music being censored in countries that stand for freedom. This isn’t hard to identify here. Music videos and the radio regularly feature music that has been censored. There have also been various movements calling for the censorship and banning of music, most notably putting the “Explicit Content” label on music that is considered explicit.

    Whatever your thought on this form of censorship is, it is still important to recognize that while we do have some censorship of music, we are still in a much better place that many other people in the world. We are free to create and listen to music, and this is an important right. Let’s celebrate our freedom of creating and enjoying music this Fourth of July.

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