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ICE-T AND SISTER SOULJAH : A Danger in 'Cop Killer's' 'Free Expression of Ideas'?

June 20, 1992

As a writer, teacher and past victim of censorship, I'm appalled that Time Warner Inc. would justify support of Ice-T's "Cop Killer" by citing a commitment "to the free expression of ideas" ("Texas Police Call for Boycott of Time Warner," June 12). This perversion of the First Amendment plays directly into would-be censors' hands.

A civilized society cannot allow freedom of expression to include the freedom to yell "Fire!" in a crowded, fire-free room or to advocate the murder of citizens, whether or not they happen to be cops. A democracy that allows such behavior will collapse into anarchy, or harden into fascism.

Time Warner's "free expression" defense is the kind of self-serving and transparent twisting of truth that Americans have come to expect from political leaders and company spokespersons.

I'm also distressed that Source magazine senior editor James Bernard would call the protests of "Cop Killer" an attack on black art. Would he defend the rights of Klansmen to market a song directly advocating the murder of African-Americans?

If Ice-T or any artist wants to express anger, he is free to create fictional characters who express it in any way he sees fit. Ice-T or any artist is also free to express anger in his own voice, as long as he does so in some socially constructive, or simply non-destructive, way.

The U.S. Constitution gives citizens a freedom of expression that most people in the world can only dream of--freedom that is currently under real attack on many fronts and that Time Warner jeopardizes and trivializes by its irresponsible stance.

CHARLES H. WEBB, Professor of English, Cal State Long Beach

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