IFAS | Freedom Writer | January/February 1989 | censorship.html

Censorship's new wave
Part 2 of a two-part series

By Phyllis Pollack

The anti-Semitism that was demonstrated throughout protests of the film The Last Temptation of Christ will go back underground, where it lurks away from the attention of television cameras. It will, however, continue to exist. The same movement, hoping to carry out its power-minded goals, maintains its attack and exploitation of the music industry. Such groups continue to grow and thrive, as they are given credibility and endowed with status.

A demonstration at Universal Studios drew an estimated crowd of over 25,000 people. Countless demonstrators against the film, some of whom flaunted signs with anti-Semitic messages like "Yid Producers," gained new courage and were accepted by their peer groups with open arms. The brazenness with which anti-Semitism was shown in the name of Jesus for the purpose of carrying out Christian fundamentalist goals, was not a new sight to many of those in the entertainment industry.

Entertainment executives have seen this type of religious bigotry exhibited before. Protesters will continue using such an outlet for venting their hatred, as they have found safe haven harassing rock stars and record companies.

Mighty Mouse, the Jews, and rock music

Rev. Don Wildmon, head of the American Family Association (AFA) and editor of its Christian fundamentalist AFA Journal, constantly wages war against the entertainment industry. This year, he led a full-fledged attack against the cartoon character Mighty Mouse, claiming that a scene where the mouse smells flowers promotes cocaine use, as children would interpret the flowers as cocaine. Wildmon had so many followers in his pressure movement that CBS felt compelled to edit the tape.

Wildmon flew in for the movie protest of Temptation from Tupelo, Mississippi to announce a one-year boycott against Universal Studios.

Wildmon's published writings have referred to "the fact the Hollywood world is heavily influenced by Jewish people." He writes, "Of the people who are responsible for our films, 96 percent said they seldom or never attend church worship services, and 55 percent claimed no religion at all. Sixty-two percent identified themselves as Jewish." It is not known how Wildmon got his figures, especially since 62 percent plus 55 percent equals 117 percent. Wildmon feels the entertainment industry plots to wipe out Christianity.

He writes, "When I use the term 'anti-Christian' ... I don't mean that the elite in Hollywood and at the networks are merely apathetic toward the Christian faith. I mean they are openly hostile toward it. I use it in the same context as a black would in speaking of the Ku Klux Klan as being racist, or as a Jew would in saying that Hitler was anti-Semitic."

Is Hollywood anti-Christian?

He states, "Also dearly evident is the anti-Christian bias of Hollywood and the networks. Is this same bias evident toward other religions, including Judaism and humanism? Absolutely not... The media's anti- Christian attitude is not an accident. It is intentional. These leaders desire that their religion humanism replace the Christian view of man as the foundation of our society [emphasis ours]." "Anti-Christian" is a term and concept often used by groups fighting rock music, including Back in Control, whose manual listed the Jewish Star as a Satanic symbol.

In one of his AFA Journals complaining of "secular humanism" and the theory of evolution appearing in school textbooks, were 14 pages of Tipper Gore's Raising PG Kids in an X-Rated Society, reprinted with her publisher's permission.

Skipp Porteous, co-publisher of Freedom Writer, is very concerned about what he sees as a "dangerous movement of right-wing religious fanatics, trying to impose their beliefs on others, and taking away the rights of others." He explains that these groups use the term "anti-Christian" to "stir their followers, creating paranoia, to incite those in the movement."

Countless lists have been published by such groups calling for a boycott of various musicians for following religions other than fundamentalist Christianity. These groups claim that certain albums should be banned or boycotted, merely because of the religious beliefs of the recording artist.

Christian readers are given lists of artists who are born-again Christians and are told to buy those records instead of mainstream recordings. In The Hot 100, a booklet published by Rev. Al Menconi, for instance, an issue is made of singer Tina Turner being a "Buddhist." Next to Bob Dylan's name it states, "The rebel poet made public his commitment to [Jesus] several years ago. He's been looking into his Jewish heritage as well. His obscure and cryptic lyrical style leaves listeners confused about what he believes today." This is supposed to have bearing on whether or not to buy the albums.

Menconi, who also sends out literature praising the Back in Control center, has an advertisement for one of his anti-rock packages in Rev. Wildmon's AFA Journal. Not surprisingly, this ad is placed on the last page of Tipper Gore's 14-page excerpt. Another crusader enlisted in the fight against the music industry is pastor Paul McGeechie of the First Assembly of God in Goshen, Indiana. McGeechie sends out literature stating, "One of Satan's greatest weapons is religion! Here are only a few of his religions and gimmicks he uses ... Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Church of Satan..."

A more widely known rock critic is Rev. Bob Larson, who writes books complaining about rock music and attacks musicians on his nation-wide religious radio talk show. He also sells tapes accusing Masons of satanic practices. In his book Rock: For Those Who Don't Like What They Hear, Larson condemns ex-Beatle George Harrison because of his interest in Eastern religions, and middle-of-the-road pop artists Seals and Crofts for being members of the Baha'i faith. Cat Stevens, who sang "Peace Train," is attacked for being a Muslim. Using these "facts," readers are told not about their albums. Is not "religious blacklisting" appropriate terminology for these efforts?

Porteous warns that "this intolerance by religious bigots is dangerous." He states, "If anyone is censored, everyone has to worry about being persecuted. In Nazi Germany a lot of people didn't defend their neighbors. Since it wasn't them being taken away, it was OK. Then, when it was their turn, there was no one left to defend them. It's the same thing in this country. We have to nip it in the bud."

Trojan horse

Porteous continues, "In the religious right-wing movement, anti-Semitism is strange because most of it supports Israel. The reason they do support it is they think that Jesus will return to the Holy Land. But they also believe in Armageddon a third World War in Israel. It's OK to appreciate support for Israel, but it could be a Trojan horse. Pat Robertson has predicted the Soviets will invade Israel. They hope to see this, so it's really not a friendly gesture. Ultimately, Christian fundamentalists want to see another Holocaust in Israel, where Jews will accept Jesus and then be martyred."

Many deeply religious Jews share a belief in reincarnation as part of their faith. However, many Christians find this belief objectionable, due to their interpretation of heaven and hell. Recording artists, who in interviews have mentioned belief in reincarnation, or who have written songs mentioning reincarnation, have also been placed on these blacklists.

In Larson's book he attacks such contemporary artists as Todd Rundgren, Jackson Browne and the band Yes, for believing in reincarnation. These printed blacklists are very common.

Thousands have experienced going to a rock concert and being approached outside by Christians passing out literature which condemns the concert-goer for attending the concert. This is comparable to experiences of those who went to see the film The Last Temptation of Christ, and were accosted by protesters. Brochures given to concert attendees warn of "hell and the devil" and other Christian concepts.

Moshe Parry, of Jews for Judaism, has noted that rock concerts are a site for Christians trying to recruit Jews for Jesus. He notes, "Their techniques are now more subtle and subversive. They are very deceptive in means. They are now very sophisticated in their approach to gaining Jewish converts."

Countless anti-rock and roll ~groups have been trying to enforce Christian beliefs by trying to ban movies, music and books. Complaining about "satanic" rock music is a popular tactic. These groups have advocated the placement of a warning sticker on albums whose lyrics include words like "hell" and "devil," hoping to create, promote and enforce a belief in such Christian concepts.

In the spring of 1985, Gore's Parent's Music Resource Center (PMRC) sent a letter to the Recording Industry Association of America asking for warning stickers on such albums, requesting the rating "O" for "Occult."

The PMRC letter, which was signed a week prior to the incorporation, also asked that certain artists' contracts be "reassessed," that records with "objectionable" content be placed in plain wrappers in separate sections of record stores, and a host of other demands.

A few months later, a hearing was held on rock music by the Senate Commerce Committee, on which Tipper Gore's husband, Al Gore (D-TN), served, along with four other PMRC husbands. Fearing legislation and other measures from the PMRC's politically powerful husbands, the music industry gave into the wives' demands for a generic warning sticker.

Religious blacklists

Freedom Village, a fundamentalist group based in New York, also publishes religious blacklists of rock stars. Groups such as the Beatles are attacked for having "introduced false religions, like Transcendental Meditation."

Their pamphlets accuse almost every popular musician today of such moral perversions as devil worship and religious blasphemy. Pat Benatar's "Hell Is for Children," which decries the problem of child abuse, is categorized as devil music. Freedom Village states, "We exchange information with the PMRC all the time. They call us at different times when they need our pamphlets on hand."

Many politically aware music industry executives and music fans are at a loss as to what to do about this narrow-minded bigotry. They see Tipper Gore supporting groups like Missouri Project Rock, which sends out Nazi "historical revisionist" tapes and openly label Caballa and the Jewish star as Satanic. They watch "Washington wives" publicly endorsing groups like Back in Control and hailing police manuals that link the Jewish star to the occult. The executives and music fans wonder if the Jewish community is aware that Gore works with so many of these groups that promote anti-Semitism and intolerance, thereby giving them credibility and status.

Some mention the fact that if Gore is such a good judge of rock stars and their lyrics then why does she have such poor judgment in picking the support groups with whom she works? A Jewish yeshiva graduate working at a major record company in New York asked, "Why are Jews protesting Jackson and ignoring Mrs. Gore's connections, who are just as dangerous and vicious as Farrakhan?"

A Jewish music publisher notes that Jewish rock stars and agents have felt forced to change their last names to gentile "equivalents." An East Coast rock star is enraged that Gore joined a Soviet Jewry group a few months ago. He angrily states it was "so her husband could get Jewish votes and money" and to "try to deceive those who could find out about her other activities and friends."

Perhaps no one said it better than Howard Bloom, music industry executive and co-founder of the anti-censorship group Music in Action, "I may not like all forms of music, but I support their right to exist. That's what America is all about."

Reprinted with permission from the B'nai B'rith Messenger.

© 1998 Institute for First Amendment Studies, Inc.