TCU Daily Skiff Tuesday, April 6, 2004
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Music and law can’t suit all

Brian Chatman is a sophomore news- editorial journalism major from Fort Worth.

I hate rap and country music. I actually become physically ill when I hear songs in those styles. Do I have a reason beyond not liking the music? No. I am just a music snob. There… I said it. I feel better.

When I was younger, I wanted rap and country banned. I had hundreds of reasons that were logically unsound. I claimed that they were sub-standard music forms that were appealing only to the unintelligent. Their growing popularity took away from my freedom to listen to music I enjoyed. When they got record contracts, that was one less deal for a band I liked. I justified my desire for a ban by saying that people would appreciate a higher quality music form if they didn’t have the option of listening to rap or country. I even wanted groups I didn’t like that played “good music” banned.

As time went on, I began to understand that I had a lot in common with those who listened to rap and country. Some of those people had good reasons for not liking the forms of music I enjoyed. Those who listened to rap sometimes didn’t enjoy the sound of traditional instruments. They preferred music that was based on beat. Others preferred the improvisational vocal style. Those who listened to country preferred the blues-like format. They, unlike me, liked the twang. Maybe they identified with the lyrics more than with what I like. Certain elements even appealed to me in different contexts. This was a rare occurrence but it did happen on occasion.

I also began to notice that the existence of these music forms actually helped the forms I enjoy. Hearing something I don’t like makes me appreciate that which I do like even more. There is a symbiotic relationship between my music and the “others.” The commercial nature of rap and country feed the anti-commercial drive in my music. Less music is out there for me, but what remains is higher quality.

I found that it is ridiculous to judge people solely on their musical tastes. It seems like a given, but for a teenager obsessed with music this was a shocking revalation. It took time, but I learned to separate the music from the people that listened to it. Don’t expect me to listen to rap and country, but I am capable of co-existing with those who listen to those musical forms.

The big change in my opinion came when I realized that hatred was anathema to my personal beliefs. I believe in freedom of choice. Banning “sub-standard” music would increase my freedom at the expense of everyone else’s. Removing something that one person finds offensive only makes life more comfortable for that one person. Law cannot make everyone comfortable. Some people don’t feel comfortable with law, while others don’t feel comfortable without. Self-determination is a concept that is more easily determined, and therefore is a better measure of what should be law.

So the next time someone tries to ban something on “moral” grounds, remember that something as trivial as music can teach us all a lesson. Just because you don’t like something, doesn’t make it wrong. To quote Rush, “The spaces in between leave room for you and I to grow."
TCU Daily Skiff ©2004
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