On Artists and Free Speech

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One huge beef I have with a lot of today’s artists – in the 1980s, artists stood together for Free Speech. “I may not like what you have to say, but I will die to defend your Right to say it.”

You’d hear artists make that proclamation.

Musicians teamed up and made a strong stand against the PMRC. It didn’t matter what genre you were. Metal? Rap? Country? We were all united in opposition to the PMRC.

John Denver, Frank Zappa, and Dee Snyder all made excellent speeches against them.

Nowadays? A lot of “artists” are the biggest opponents of Free Speech. They scream loudly and want their opponents censored.

That, my friends, is communism. The absolute last thing I want. Especially for art.

If an artist doesn’t fear censorship, I can’t take him seriously as an artist. Goya experienced it in his lifetime. Waterhouse just recently had one of his pieces censored.

To be clear, I don’t care if censorship if coming from the Left, from the Right, or from the Middle. Censorship is censorship. If they’re censoring my artwork, I don’t care who’s doing it. I’m going to be pissed. As should you.

Free Speech legally

Anything goes. Except for the following:

Copyright violation. You’re free to cover Princess for the Night. Do a Reggae version. Do a Metal version. I think either would be awesome! But, I get a cut of your royalties, depending on your country’s laws. You also have to give me writing credit.

Slander and libel. You can say whatever you want about someone. As long as it’s true. You can’t slander them. This is definitely worth looking up as I’m not a lawyer. I just know the basics.

Privacy. You cannot dox your enemy, no matter how much you hate them. You can’t give out their Social Security number, address, credit card info, where their children go to school, etc. No matter how much you think they deserve it.

Verbal threat. You can say you hate me. You can hate me for whatever reason. My gender. My skin color. My music or my art. It’s your Right. I’d prefer you didn’t but whatever.

If you come onto my property and say you’re going to kill me, I’ll put a bullet between your eyes. And I never miss. And it’s self-defense.

Other than that, anything goes.

A lot of things are bad taste. You don’t have to listen.

There are a lot of things I don’t like. I turn them off or tune them out. I don’t try to censor them.

If they censor words, they’ll eventually come for your art

This statement holds true historically.

Also the reverse holds true.

So once again, I’ll make this statement. Artists who are fine with censorship are pieces of shit and don’t deserve the title “artist.”

Strong words? Well, if you’re offended by it, then I don’t like you.

I’ve read enough history to understand what happens.

Two of my favorite 20th century composers, Prokofiev and Shostakovitch, both worried for their safety at various times. They both worried that their works won’t please the State and they’d get sent to Siberia. Or worse.

That’s what happens when artists don’t have Free Speech. Bad things happen when they offend the wrong people.

History has shown us this time and time again.

And artists in present day Communist China? We all know what’s going on there. Would be a horrible place for an artist.

As a real artist, I draw the line in the sand now. I make a stand for Free Speech, even for people I personally hate.

Would be nice if other people who called themselves artists would also draw a line in the sand. Numbers matter.

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