Monday, May 24, 2004

Censorship and the "Aggressive" Music Festival

Dear Editor,

Let me say first that the three people who are most solidly against the Aggressive Music festival are people that I know and respect (Mark Frost, Bill Brown and Diane LaFontaine). Each, seem to me to be reasonable, well-intentioned and thoughtful. That doesn't, in any way, stop me from completely disagreeing with them, though. As a parent and a big fan of "Hometown USA", I can understand (emotionally) where they're coming from and certainly will stop far short of accusing them of "zealotry" or labeling them "Un-American", as others have done. They have simply voiced their opinion that this type of event has no place in Glens Falls. The music in question is violent and anti-social; devoid of artistic merit and these events usually carry with them some baggage of destructive behavior. These things may, or may not, be true, but they are all subjective arguments.

The bottom line is that we live in a democratic society (well, sort of .... for the moment, anyway). People who seek to censure or restrict art should be considered out of touch with what are truly core American beliefs. I believe that those who championed free speech (most of the founding fathers, for example) knew that it would open Pandora's Box. With valued commentary and artistic expression, you also get the Ku Klux Klan, Michael Savage, Howard Stern and Brittany Spears. Truly a mixed bag! Do any of these voices really serve any useful purpose at all? I honestly don't think that they do, but I'll defend their right to free expression nonetheless. Should Glens Falls only allow "quality" musical acts to play? If quality were the issue uppermost on the American mind, surely, there would be no Walmarts and McDonald's would not be the nation's most successful "restaurant".

The real “evil” coming to town is inarguable. That evil is Clear Channel, who will be promoting the "festival". Their evil is far more insidious than any leather-clad musician expressing angst and denial and anger and sadness to teenagers. This un-American media monopoly is a truly evil mechanism designed to spew propaganda and invective and set the intellectual bar lower while enriching its shareholders. With its selective reporting and hate speech, Clear Channel has caused millions of misinformed Americans to champion some very un-American activities (wars of empire, the two-party system, the death of free media, the Patriot Act and globalization, just to name a few).

If it weren't for Independent Media, like WRPI (91.5 FM) or the Internet, American news might be totally devoid of truth. We would have no choice but to blindly accept what we are told by mainstream medium. Clear Channel owned 1200 radio stations spanning many genres before last years historic FCC decision to allow corporate media to consolidate even further. Now, six corporations own more than 80% of our "free speech" in this country. Without independents, (like the Chronicle) the voice of democracy and discourse can be easily silenced. We all need to champion the right of free speech, regardless of our political or religious beliefs, before it’s too late and our voices are silenced, forever.

My three friends, I love and respect each of you for your contributions to our community and for your well-intended opinions in this matter, but when it comes to censorship, Boy, do we disagree! Thank God we're still allowed to do that!

Matt Funiciello