Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Did The Devil Make Them Do It?

Tony Norman, longtime editor and columnist (and former music critic) for the Psychosis-Gazette writes today about the newest controversy in this year's political campaigns: Republican politicians using the music of left-wing musicians at public appearances. This has been an issue in past campaigns as well, and it never ceases to amaze me that no one seems to learn from these incidents. Why does the Republican Party court controversy by pissing off jerks like the Wilson sisters or John Mellencamp by playing their songs? Why do the musicians risk alienating the Republican portion of their fan base by making public declarations of outrage? It seems to me that no one comes off as a winner in this sort of scuffle, though the fault would seem to lie with the McCain campaign for raising hackles in the first place.

There is something that I am wondering about. Back in the 1990s, Rush Limbaugh told a story about how his show had recently been contacted by a band that I had never heard of (before or since) called The Bottle Rockets. The band objected to his use of one of their songs as bumper music. Rush responded that he liked the song, he would continue to play it, and that he had the right to play it because his station/network/whatever had paid the requisite fees to ASCAP, so therefore The Bottle Rockets were duly compensated for use of their music. The band continued to complain but Rush Limbaugh was legally in the right. So how does this work with political campaigns?

Do the Democrat and Republican parties have to pay ASCAP before playing this music at public rallies? Do the same laws that apply to radio broadcasts of music apply here? If so, then they would be free to play all of the Heart, Van Halen, Jackson Browne, Mellencamp, Springsteen, etc. that they want. But it would still be a stupid thing to do.

Speaking of stupid things, I am a little disappointed in Tony Norman. While I seldom agree with any of his views, Tony writes one of the more intelligible columns in the PG. Today, however, he slips dangerously close to Reg Henry-level stupidity with this assertion:

It looks like the staples of FM radio are in full revolt against the opportunism of the Republicans. For a party that used to believe that rock 'n' roll was of the Devil, they've been doing a lot of thievin' lately.
When was "rock 'n' roll is the Devil's music!" ever part of the Republican Party platform? Did I miss something? When has the party -- either party, for that matter -- taken an official stand on the supposed theological nature of a musical genre? I'd like to see something backing up that allegation. Isolated statements by rednecks and religious fanatics don't count. I feel like I've been slandered, and I want PROOF.

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