I find the controversy surrounding 2 Live Crew and the group's music ridiculous {"Rap Singers Charged With Obscenity," front page, June 11}. I thought this was the United States of America, a land where everyone is quick to boast of freedom of speech and freedom of expression. But it seems the bureaucracy is full of hypocrisy. The members of a rap group can get arrested for obscene songs, but sex shops in cities such as New York are allowed to sell pornographic movies and magazines, while half-naked girls try to entice customers into their booths. Where is the logic?

No one is forcing 2 Live Crew's music upon society, nor is there pressure on anyone to attend this group's concerts. If we truly want to be a free country, we should allow all performers to express themselves without having to look over their shoulders to see Big Brother watching.

Are we destined to repeat our infamous history of censorship of the McCarthy era? Perhaps our government could learn something from South Africa, of all places, which recently allowed many exiled citizens to return to their homeland. Singer Miriam Makeba returned to Soweto after 30 years in exile for singing songs her government did not agree with. Is it going to take our government that long to realize that it is doing the wrong thing by restricting the freedom of today's performers?


Oxon Hill

Now that the album "As Nasty as They Wanna Be" by 2 Live Crew has been declared obscene, this Gaithersburg humanist has a three-part idea on how to handle the obscenity versus First Amendment dilemma.

First, any adult should be able to purchase any record, movie, book or magazine that he or she wants to purchase. I do not want my choice of material to be diminished by legal fiat because someone else finds my choice offensive. Let adults rent or buy what they wish.

Second, we must realize that children are not miniature adults and that material an adult can handle responsibly can be damaging to a minor. Let us allow communities to decide what children can or cannot purchase, and let us keep the laws barring the sale of pornography to children.

Third, we should support the idea of warning labels on albums. A sticker that simply says that a record contains lyrics some may find offensive is, in my opinion, no infringement on First Amendment rights. Parents have a right to know what their children listen to, and all consumers have a right to have an idea of what they are buying. Parents are right to be concerned if their children are listening to antisocial or drug-influenced music. And one hopes that this concern will lead to some constructive parent-child communication.

I believe that my idea, if implemented, will both protect the First Amendment rights of adults and address the concerns of groups such as the Parents Music Resource Center. But let us not be naive. Most children will be exposed to some objectionable material at one time or another. No law will ever be 100 percent leak-proof. But if parents can teach and have dialogues with their children, then perhaps children will not be corrupted when the inevitable does happen.