Censorship or Hypocrisy?

An essay by James A Graves Jr


There is a really cool rock song called All Summer Long that was released several years ago and is still played on local radio stations.

Written by Edward King, Kid Rock, Gary Rossington, Uncle Kracker, Ronnie Van Zant, Robert Wachtel, and    Warren Zevon, it was featured on Kid Rock’s Rock and Roll Jesus album released back in October 2007, which made it into the top five on Bilboard’s album chart. 

All Summer Long received airplay on rock, modern rock, adult contemporary, pop, and country stations, which is not surprising considering that it masterfully blended the classic sounds of Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of   London" and Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" with words about summer memories of being young and carefree in summertime during the late 1980’s in Northern Michigan.


All Summer Long’s chorus goes:

And we were tryin' different things and we were smokin' funny things

Makin' love out by the lake to our favorite songs

Sippin' whisky out the bottle not thinkin' 'bout tomorrow

Singin' Sweet Home Alabama all summer long


Several of the local “family friendly” radio stations decided that, when All Summer Long plays, “we were smokin' funny things” should be edited out, so those lyrics are muted.  Yet, “Makin' love out by the lake…” and “Sippin' whisky out the bottle” are allowed to play and are not muted.


As a songwriter and author hearing the lyrics of All Summer Long being censored irritated me to no end; “smokin' funny things” just didn’t seem that offensive.  But when I realized the hypocrisy of what I was hearing it angered me even more and made me wonder, which was worse, censorship or hypocrisy?


Why was it okay to be “Makin' love out by the lake…” and “Sippin' whisky out the bottle”, but it was not okay to be “smokin' funny things”?


This issue hits a bit close to home with me since I feature “Alcohol is a Drug” as chapter three and “The         Demonizing of Marijuana” as chapter five in my non-fiction book titled “Assembly Line Justice – How The   American Drug War Has Failed” published in 2005 by Global Authors Publications, Inc. http://globalauthorspublications.com ISBN 0-9766449-9-1 (paperback)

and soon to be released as a second edition by Crystal Dreams Publishing http://www.crystaldreamspublishing.com/ ISBN-13 978-1-59146-302-3 (paperback) and ISBN-13 978-1-59146-302-0 (Adobe PDF ebook).


This is not simply a “pot is bad but alcohol is okay” issue.

Here’s an excerpt from chapter three of Assembly Line Justice:

“Marijuana is known as the “gateway drug” and often referred to by Drug War proponents as the most abused drug in America, conveniently ignoring the undeniable facts that alcohol and tobacco are the first drugs used by most drug users, more people in the US are addicted to nicotine than all other prescribed and illicit drugs    combined, and alcohol use and abuse far exceeds the use and abuse of all other illicit drugs combined. 


3,000 people were killed in the terrorist attacks in the US on September 11, 2001, and the US immediately    declared war on terror, then attacked and invaded Afghanistan and Iraq.  Alcohol is far more dangerous than terrorists because it has killed more innocent Americans than terrorists ever have and will kill more innocent Americans than terrorists ever will.  Yet, nothing is being done by the US government to curtail the use and abuse of alcohol by adults and very little is being done to curtail its use and abuse by children and teenagers.”


Here are some underage alcohol consumption facts from “Prevalence of Underage Drinking” published by The Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins      University

· Approximately 10.0 million persons ages 12 to 20 (26.3 % of this age group) reported drinking alcohol in the past month. Nearly 6.5 million (17.0%) were binge drinkers, and 2.0 million (5.1%) were heavy drinkers.10

· Almost half (48%) of all alcohol use reported by college students is attributable to those who are underage.

· Underage drinking is estimated to account for between 11% and 20% of the U.S. alcohol market. Even the lower estimate of 11% represents 3.6 billion drinks each year.

· Youth who start drinking before the age of 15 are five times more likely to develop alcohol dependence or abuse in their lifetimes than those who begin drinking at age 21 years or later.


“December 2007 - Underage drinkers account for 11.4 percent of all the alcohol consumed in the U.S., according to Teen Tipplers: America's Underage Drinking Epidemic, a new report released by The National Center on     Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.”


According to Hope Networks http://www.hopenetworks.org/addiction/alcohol/Alcoholism.htm

“Almost half of Americans aged 12 or older reported being current drinkers of alcohol in the 2001 survey (48.3 percent). This translates to an estimated 109 million people.

Both the rate of alcohol use and the number of drinkers increased from 2000, when 104 million, or 46.6 percent, of people aged 12 or older reported drinking in the past 30 days.”


Considering this disturbing information, which points to the undeniable fact that alcohol is abused far more than marijuana and causes far more harm to young people, why is it okay for a song broadcast over the radio to     include lyrics referring to drinking alcohol (not to mention having sex) but yet be forbidden to include lyrics     referring to smoking pot?


It makes one question the definition of “family friendly” radio, and makes me ask the question; is this          censorship or hypocrisy?


In my opinion it is both.


It demonstrates hypocrisy in its most blatant form and shows the widespread ignorance and blatant denial of the epidemic of underage drinking, and it demonstrates censorship by showing how the liberal, Socialist media continues to control and manipulate what is broadcast to the American public by deciding for us what they     believe we should hear and see in the media.


Here are a few suggestions:

1. Try to remember that the First Amendment to the US Constitution is still in effect so cease and desist with your Socialist censorship crap!


2. Americans are self-censoring.  If we don’t want to hear, see or read something we simple ignore it. THAT is freedom of the press and freedom FROM the press. We’re smart enough to decided for ourselves and certainly don’t need some Liberal, Socialist (or anyone else) deciding for us.


3. Children have a natural curiosity about the unknown, especially about things that are “forbidden”.  They are going to experiment with alcohol, tobacco and drugs and especially if they are considered off-limits.  Censoring out “we were smokin' funny things” from a song on the radio will not help prevent kids from smoking pot.  It only reemphasizes that pot is on the “forbidden” list, consequently making it more appealing. 


4. Preventing kids from abusing alcohol, tobacco and drugs starts at home and with their parents.  Beyond the home it falls to their school and to society in general.  Examples of use and abuse of alcohol, tobacco and drugs are everywhere.  You cannot put that genie back in the bottle, and censoring a song or any other such silly    endeavor is a fool’s errand.


5. You will never prevent kids from experimenting with harmful things. But you can lead by example and teach them the dangers of tobacco, alcohol and drugs and provide sensible, logical and plausible reasons for making the right choices.  After that, it is up to them.  Kids are people, too.  Ultimately they must decide for themselves and the best we can do is offer intelligent guidance, not censorship and hypocrisy. 


 ©2012 James A Graves, Jr.


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