I happen to be one of the 2,000,135 persons who bought the recording "As Nasty as They Wanna Be" by a rap group called 2 Live Crew. I didn't want to buy the tape after it was banned in Florida and became a cause ce'le`bre throughout the country, but what choice did I have?
I stood in a long line in front of the music shop holding my $9.95. The lady in front of me was as excited as I was.
"I never heard a rap tape before," she confessed.
"Neither have I," I admitted. "I understand that this one is really disgusting."
The lady said, "My grandson tells me that there are a lot worse tapes on sale. Why do you think they picked on 'As Nasty as They Wanna Be'?"
"The sheriff of Broward County probably has a son who plays it all day long and he couldn't take it any more."
The man standing behind me joined in the conversation. "Why would they censor music?"
"It's not the music -- it's the lyrics," I explained. "These are supposed to be the filthiest words ever put to music. They are just awful."
The lady said, "I wonder if they'll let you buy two."
The man sounded puzzled. "What can lyrics in a song do to provoke your prurient interests?"
I said, "This is a free country, but that doesn't mean you can cry 'fire' in a crowded record shop."
"I'm glad they never censored 'The Sound of Music.' That was my favorite," the lady told us.
"Are you really going to play 'As Nasty as They Wanna Be' at home?" I asked her.
"I doubt it. I'll probably just stick it in my purse to use as a weapon in case someone attacks me."
"Why are you buying it?" the man wanted to know.
"Someday I hope to be block warden in my neighborhood, and I need to know what is good for the public and what isn't. It's my understanding that this tape might drive some people to commit unforgivable acts of violence."
"You mean the words could do that?"
"No, the music. The beat will drive them mad."
"Do you think they'll pull other records off the shelves?" the man asked.
"I should hope so," I said. "Censoring rap music could be the biggest gut issue of the next election campaign. Candidates are going to be falling all over themselves demanding the death penalty for those who play a record."
Four hours later we reached the counter and the clerk behind it handed me the tape in a brown paper bag.
I took it home, locked all the doors, pulled down the shades and placed the cassette in my recorder. When it began it was a jumble of sounds. I couldn't understand a word. I put it into another tape machine to check it, and once again it was unintelligible.
In a fury, I returned to the music store and told them, "I can't understand one dirty lyric on this tape."
The salesman said, "We never promised you 'My Wild Irish Rose.' "