Maryland legislators, the kids at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda have something to tell you:
Your recent House vote to ban the sales of obscene records to minors won't work and is "ridiculous."
These kids -- some of whom were pulled at random from two English classes -- listen to Caribbean reggae and Bruce Springsteen, Mozart and Dead Kennedys. They especially like tapping time in the car, or when doing homework.
When they hear about something like your Valentine's Day vote, they get steamed, and punctuate angry arguments with references to the Constitution, Dadaist painting and Shakespeare.
They wonder what violent television cop shows you watch, or what raunchy best-sellers you read. They did not like it that one among you -- Montgomery County Democrat Joseph Owens -- called certain rock compositions "slime affecting children."
Your hearts may be in the right place, they say, but don't you know anything about teen-agers?
Andrea Reusing is 17, and her music taste ranges widely, from Elvis Costello to Bob Dylan. Reusing listens to three or four hours of music a day. She saw the Mozart movie, "Amadeus," and loved it.
"I think those people should go back to high school and take a child psychology class or something," she said.
"The first thing that most kids are going to do when they see a ban on those records is to get someone to buy it for them. Or, try to see it, at least. I mean, 'What is so great about this record that parents don't want them to hear it?'
"We live in a free society, and you have to take the good with the bad. No system is perfect. But, if you start getting into this, then you start getting into what books kids can read. There's a very fine line between what they're doing, and what McCarthy did."
Josh Jacobson is 14, a freshman. His tastes run toward the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and The Who. "I do not like Twisted Sister," he said. "I do not like that at all. It's pretty poor music, and at least these other songs sound good."
Jacobson nevertheless considers the House action censorship, and he doesn't like that at all, either. "Why don't they consider censorship for adults, too. What's the difference between an adult and a child listening to it and, say, then going out and jumping off a bridge?"
John Weiderhorn is a senior who just turned 18. "Music-wise, I listen to -- well, you might not like this -- but, I'm into the heavy metal." His favorites include Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, but also hard-to-find hits from Motor Head, Metalicus and Voivod.
"It's probably true that a lot of current heavy metal does have a Satanic theme," Weiderhorn said. "But the darker side of nature does exist. They're just bringing it out, pointing it out, without promoting it.
"And, if you're ranking it as obscene, some of Shakespeare's stuff is quite obscene. And, some of the best sellers on the Times' lists today have graphic sexual connotations."
Then, there's the problem of policing the law -- the District record shops are but a short Metro ride away.
"And, what about the Top 40?" asked senior Ali Eetessam. "Some of the top 40 that they play on the radio are pretty obscene, too. If you ban the records, you might as well start banning the radio stations."
Don Smith is 17, a senior. "I listen to a lot of hard core," he said, mentioning groups such as Suicidal Tendencies, Dead Kennedys and Meat Men. Smith wonders how Maryland legislators will define what is obscene.
"A lot of people are saying it's just rock lyrics, but good Lord -- you look at jazz, and some of the obscene lyrics they've had for 50 years. Nobody has ever made a point out of that. And, country music certainly has enough loose people."
"It just seems sort of stupid," said Richard Hutchinson, 14, who listens to WAVA 105.1 FM or WRXQ 107.3 FM. "The way these people see the obscene words is written on a list. They look a lot worse that way than when you hear them, because you can't even hear most of the people who sing. I mean, Prince is almost incomprehensible."
Michele Kiley is 17. "I listen to a new form of music," she said. "I don't know if you're familiar with it. It's called 'industrial noise bands.' It's not really punk, not really."
She mentions the name of a German group, which sounds unspellable.
"When you listen to these industrial noise bands, it's very characteristic of the surrealist movement, and Dada. They've taken a surreal approach to music. It's very dark. It's very ominous.
"But, it's really wonderful. I mean, artistically, it's just astounding. I just love it. And, if they -- Oh, listen, I'm just so upset about this whole situation. I think it's so ridiculous."
Kiley, who also enjoys classical music, said parents are upset unnecessarily. "When you hear the lyrics, or the name of a band called 'Dead Kennedys,' you think, 'Oh, my God -- what is my child listening to?'
"But you have to understand that a lot of it is satire. It is intended to be sarcastic. I, for one, do not listen to a song just for the lyrics. I mean, if it tells me to go out and kill my mother, obviously I am not going to do that. Obviously."