Oh, the PMRC…

Apparently, it’s the 30 year anniversary of the senate hearings revolving around the Parental Music Resource Center, or PMRC, spearheaded by Tipper and, championed by Al Gore.  After having listened to a very level-headed and well-spoken Dee Snider, of Twisted Sister fame, if you were unaware, these are my thoughts, looking back.

I would have had a lot less restraint than Dee had at these hearings. It would have been hard not to ask Al and his completely self-righteous asshat delivery (sorry…he just sounds like such a tool when he thinks he’s asking Dee "hard" or "gotcha" questions)…it would be hard not ask,

"Why do you care so deeply, Mr. Gore? Is it because you don’t believe you’ve equipped your daughters with the ability to discern for themselves what is good for them or to decide for themselves what is offensive to them? Have you not instilled in them a moral compass determined by their own values of doing the right thing on their own without a parent holding their respective hands? Why are you afraid your daughters won’t make the ‘right’ decision?"

As a metalhead and a father of two metalheads, there’s one thing that kind of carries through all of this — words have the power we give them. Period. I’ve instilled in my boys the ability to think for themselves, ask questions and determine for themselves if it’s offensive, challenging to some belief they hold and if it is, why it is. It’s not rocket science but it’s not considered particularly good parenting to a lot of folks, since I’m not filtering what they learn through my fingers around their throats. Control is control, understanding is freedom. Two of my favorite memories are of my younger son singing along, from his carseat, at the top of his lungs to "Dreaming Neon Black" and my mom coming back from a trip to the store with my older son and saying, "Well, I didn’t think I’d be buying this album, twice 20 years apart" as she shows me the "Master of Puppets" CD my son asked her to buy for his birthday.

It’s not about shielding and protecting and deciding for our children what we keep from them based on what offends us. I was raised very Lutheran. Pretty much anything that came onto WNOR was considered … evil. It took a lot of convincing to bring home the Creeping Death picture disc, but it also put the trust in me and in what I’d been taught. I’d say I turned out pretty well, though I swear a lot…again, words have the power we give them. That said, I have tried to keep my boys well clear of misogynistic or degrading crap, but that just goes along with teaching kids the value in all people. To that point, though, it’s about equipping them with the ability to understand and cope with those things they encounter outside of our protective, often stiflingly so, wings. I’m proud to have raised two boys who enjoy music for music first, lyrics second and message when it suits. It’s the difference between teaching our children how to think rather than putting a subjective label on a record and telling them what to think.


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