Senate to hear testimony on violent lyrics, parental advisory labels

Friday, June 12, 1998

A Kansas senator who led a hearing last November to examine the influence of violent music lyrics plans to look at the industry once again with another hearing next week.

On Tuesday, Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., will lead the Senate Commerce Committee in a hearing entitled, “Labels and Lyrics: Do Parental Advisory Labels Inform Consumers and Parents?”

The hearing comes seven months after the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee held a hearing called “The Impact of Violent Music Lyrics on Youth Behavior and Well-Being.” Much of that hearing focused on the testimony of Raymond Kuntz, a North Dakota father who blames the music of shock-rocker Marilyn Manson for his son's suicide.

To date, witnesses for Tuesday's hearing include George Gerbner, a Temple University professor who has studied media violence issues for nearly 40 years; Charlie Gilreath, editor of The Entertainment Monitor; Barbara Wyatt, executive director of the Parents Music Resource Center; and Debbie Pelley, a teacher at Westside Middle School in Jonesboro, Ark.

Brownback has yet to announce any panelists who plan to testify on behalf of the music industry.

Music advocate Nina Crowley, who applied to testify at the hearing and has yet to receive an answer, said Brownback is stacking the testimonial deck in favor of music censorship.

“It is plainly obvious that this is not to be a senate hearing but a staged bit of theater by Senator Brownback,” Crowley said.

Crowley said the hearing is supposed to focus on the effectiveness of parental advisory labels. She said the appearance of the Jonesboro teacher shows that testimony won't examine research on the labels but reflect sensational headlines.

“Once again the hearings will manipulate the grieving in an effort to vilify popular music,” she said. “It is shameful and disgusting that he would use the tragedy and grief in Jonesboro for his own gain.”

Erik Hotmire, spokesman for Brownback, declined comment.