music journalist Tim Riley discussed music censorship and free speech
in a lecture he delivered to a group of students, faculty and community
members Feb. 11 in Whitley Auditorium.
including "Tell Me Why: A Beatles Commentary," "Hard
Rain: A Dylan Commentary" and "Madonna: Illustrated,"
provide glimpses into the artists' careers through analysis of artifacts,
performances and recordings.
He has also
been a contributor to the Washington Post, National Public Radio
and other national media outlets. He has worked for music-related
Web sites, including the Lycos-VH1 joint music guide venture, the
Link, and is a noted pianist.
In his remarks,
used his music journalism experience to explain the censorship movement
from both conservatives and liberals since 1990. Riley began with
1990 because that year, politicians and others attempted to censor
2 Live Crew, a controversial rap group, and an exhibition of gay
photographer Robert Maplethorpe; this was the first time obscenity
laws had been used against a music group or a museum.
on to discuss the Napster copyright controversy and the effects
of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks on civil liberties. Riley discussed
changing attitudes toward political dissent in America, using the
cancellation of ABC's "Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher"
as an example. The show was canceled by ABC after Maher made a controversial
statement about the Sept. 11 attacks.
He also highlighted
the USA Patriot Act and detentions without cause carried out since
the attacks. "We're on the verge of war, and free speech is
being suppressed," Riley said. "This is a crisis moment
for the First Amendment."
conservatives to legislate morality through censorship, and attempts
by liberals to legislate tolerance through censorship, Riley said,
are futile, and fail to solve issues at their core.
controversies are Macy's parade balloons that distract attention
from what's going on in the streets below," he said. "Government
restrictions on free speech amount to a cure that's much worse than