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article imageOp-Ed: When is it right to ban music?

By Alexander Baron     Jan 24, 2014 in Entertainment
Censorship is a controversial issue, and most people are opposed to it to some extent, but sometimes banning music is the least bad option.
That statement needs a big qualification, there are those who support sexual censorship for their own reasons, and of course it doesn't end there, but banning or refusing to endorse something in a particular medium is not quite the same thing.
Earlier this month, a Scottish newspaper published its list of the top ten songs banned by the BBC. Some on that list will surprise people who are not that knowledgeable about the history of contemporary and popular music during the 20th Century; yes, the Beeb really did ban Leader Of The Pack. There is worse though, like I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, would you believe?
Earlier this month, it was widely reported that the BBC had banned not a song but the entire repertoire of one particular band. If you are told the frontman for that band was Ian Watkins, you will probably understand why.
Last November, Watkins pleaded guilty to sexual offences of unspeakable depravity. In December, he was rightly given an exemplary sentence, as were his two co-defendants, whose crimes were arguably even worse as they were the mothers of the victims.
There has been some simulated outrage over royalties paid to the disgraced Gary Glitter. This is not quite the same issue, not because in the hierarchy of depravity Glitter is an almost saintly figure by comparison but for a very sound reason. Whether we like it or not, Gary Glitter is part of our cultural heritage. Before his fall from grace, he helped create an entire music genre. Okay, he is not in the same class as Chuck Berry - who is also a convicted sex offender after a fashion - but the name Gary Glitter is instantly recognisable here in the UK. The name Lostprophets is not.
To present a documentary on this particular subject as did the BBC recently would be difficult without at least mentioning him, and would not tell the full story. When so applied, censorship misleads the public, something that should not be done. Whether or not Mr Glitter's music should be played or sold at all is a matter for his fans, who appear to be willing to overlook his frailties the same way they will overlook drug abuse and far, far worse by not only musicians and actors but politicians. Let us though not mention any of the war criminals who have governed and in some cases continue to govern us.
The BBC is the UK equivalent of public radio; at the time it was banning Max Romeo's Wet Dream it had a monopoly or a near monopoly of broadcast music. That is no longer the case, and it is not really censorship for a publicly funded organisation such as the BBC to refuse to give publicity to, and put money in the pockets of, someone as unmentionable as Ian Watkins.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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