America’s contradictory censorship practices are ruining my personal carpool karaoke, and here’s why.
I value my morning ritual, it helps lubricate the mechanism that is my ability to function. Give me strong coffee, some controversial tweets (thanks Trump), and a karaoke-filled commute with my favorite tracks. However, the latter has been taken from me, and I seek answers.
It was a Wednesday morning: traffic was particularly catastrophic, but on came Beyonce, and with that came relief.
‘Sorry, I ain’t sorry, sorry I ain’t sorry’ rang around the car.
My big moment approached:
‘***** finger up’ ... wait, what?
I was robbed of my audacious finale. The finger that shall not be named (the one between the index and ring finger) was censored from public consumption and deemed unacceptable by the Federal Communications Commission.
According to FCC guidelines, this particular lyrical phrase is considered obscene material that is not protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution and cannot be broadcast at any time. The Supreme Court has established that, to be obscene, material must meet a three-pronged test:
- An average person, applying contemporary community standards, must find that the material, as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest;
- The material must depict or describe, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by applicable law; and
- The material, taken as a whole, must lack serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.
Now with that being said, I am well aware of America’s authoritarian perspective on censorship. After absorbing merely ten minutes of ‘Fricks’ and ‘Fecks’ in the TV rendition of The Departed, the message hits home. So my gripe is not with how strict the censorship laws are, but rather what is considered censor-worthy.
Because it was just 10 minutes after my heartbreak on that same horrible day that I witnessed a young lad, most likely a decade my junior, singing freely, with no government imposed concern,
‘I got a Glock in my ‘rari, 17 shots no 38’.
How was this possible? What kind of world was I living in where Beyonce’s ****** finger was a sore subject, while gun possession, use and glorification was an open market for interpretation?
And then it dawned on me: There are no constitutionally supported middle fingers.
While this is hardly the first time that a Beyonce lyric has been called into question ― although frankly, this may be the least controversial example of same ― it emphasizes a severe detachment from reality in American culture, a culture that seems perfectly willing to run the risk of their youth absorbing the use of weaponry, but outraged by the presence of an overzealous middle finger.
And I get it, context is important. This seems like a minor example amidst the statistical warfare that appears when gun culture is called into question. But this skewed perception towards what is acceptable helps protect the medieval gun culture in this country, along with those NRA advocates that want to keep their pockets lined.
The FCC defines profanity as “including language so grossly offensive to members of the public who actually hear it as to amount to a nuisance.” Well, I have been in the United States for six years, and the continued, unfiltered, free-flowing glorification of guns is more than just a nuisance to me. Especially when you partner it with the harsh reality that the United States is in a league of its own when it comes to gun-related deaths.
With such alarming death rates, you would think that glamorizing the beauty of weapons would be considered a form of profanity, right?
No? How come?
Oh yeah, that Second Amendment thing, the answer to all unanswerable questions. The inalienable right to legally possess a weapon is ironically bulletproof to the point that any criticism is considered misguided or offensive, and is ultimately a conspiracy to rid the country of its leading cause of deaths - how dare we.
Reluctantly, I have made my peace with the reality that the Second Amendment remains as protected as Hilary Clinton’s emails, but that doesn’t mean celebrating guns should be passed as PG while flipping the bird is an R-rated offense.
I am not saying censoring guns would move mountains, honestly most people have already downloaded the x-rated version of the song and are knee deep in f-bombs. However, it would help in adjusting this skewed perception that allows gun glorification to pass as acceptable in mainstream broadcasting, which anchors it to a sense of normality in the U.S.
At least be fair in your hypocrisy. Either allow me to sing freely, middle fingers up, or impose those same restrictions on what really should be condemned, the glorification of the countries most infamous killing device. Make America regulate again.