Editorial: Dislike of some art, even ‘Blurred Lines,’ doesn’t warrant banning it

Editorial Board

There’s something to be said about Robin Thicke’s song, “Blurred Lines.” In fact, there is a lot that is being said.

The track was initially released on March 26 and was Thicke’s first song to hit the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. 

Yet nearly eight months later, the song, which has caused controversy over its questionable lyrics, is still making waves.

As of Nov. 6, 20 universities within the United Kingdom have banned the song from being played, stating the lyrics are sexist and encourage rape culture.

The “Blurred Lines” lyrics certainly give a listener pause, and for many past victims of sexual assault the lyrics might act as an emotional trigger, but does it justify banning an art form, in this case music, simply because you might not agree with it? 

Music, paintings, books and speeches are all forms of an individual expressing themselves. In nearly every situation, there are going to be people who find something that is placed in the world that they don’t feel is appropriate. 

However, that shouldn’t mean the content is banned for all other consumers.

Each year across the country people attempt to ban books, often citing the fact that books “promote” something that an individual finds immoral or against their personal or community values. Just as “Blurred Lines” is being cited for “promoting rape culture.”

Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” is one of the most contested books as many say it perpetuates racism. 

“The Autobiography of Malcolm X” has come under scrutiny for promoting crime, especially violent crime and violent activism. 

Similarly, “The Catcher in the Rye” is accused of being obscene, and “The Scarlet Letter” has even been called pornographic by those objecting to the piece of literature.

“Blurred Lines” is also not the only song that has found itself banned. Pussy Riot as a group was jailed over their music in Russia; this is impugnation to the point of ruining lives. In historic America, groups have found offense with all kinds of music from blues to rock ‘n’ roll.

Despite all this — the vulgarity, inappropriateness or offensiveness of language — we should not want to ban these forms of media. 

As citizens of the United States, something that we can take pride in is our free and protected ability to express ourselves. The First Amendment to our Constitution guarantees these rights and freedoms of speech, and we should not be so quick to turn our backs to them.

Because the amendment protects speech from government regulation, such a ban is impossible to attain through legislation. 

Of course, a private institution such as a college might be able to initiate a campuswide ban, but why would we desire it?

Everyone has something that they don’t like, whether it is a book, a movie or a song, due to seemingly offensive content. However, glancing at the bigger picture shows that trying to ban any of these media is an outright offense against our freedoms. 

A person may dislike the offensive language in Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” but the lyricist has as much right to write those lyrics as the listener has to express distaste.

Before you cry for the control of offensive forms of media, think about what those seemingly distasteful items illustrate: our outright U.S. freedom to say what we please without government interference.