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Rap Lyrics

December 24, 1992

I'm delighted to see Time-Warner at the forefront of the record industry's decision to stop releasing songs celebrating the killing of police (editorial, "Self-Regulation, Not Censorship," Dec. 13). That it is the largest communications company on Earth arguably requires this sort of leadership; it's still a courageous move. I congratulate them.

The highly public confrontation last summer at the shareholders' meeting over the release of the unsavory rap album, "Body Count," can't have made this decision easy. I said then Time-Warner officials might very well have been honestly unaware, along with almost everyone else, of the odious nature of the actual "Cop Killer" lyrics, until I recited them verbatim. To their lasting credit, within days the song was pulled from the album.

Freedom of speech, of course, was never at issue. The First Amendment protects every citizen's right to express himself within wide boundaries, free from government censorship. It most specifically doesn't include endorsement, let alone sponsorship.

In the government or the private sector, to refuse to finance, sell, or buy a film, book or painting is not censorship . . . it's free choice. Thinking people understand this. I'm glad the record industry, led by Time-Warner, is responding. The "Cop Killer" flap was an aberration. I'm glad it's been put behind us.

CHARLTON HESTON

Beverly Hills

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