FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Censors Go Global

by Dave Marsh

The Czech Republic just passed a law giving anyone “promoting drugs” up to five years in prison. So much for the Velvet Revolution. Pathetically ineffectual President Vaclav Havel, a leader of the Velvet Revolution, is currently hospitalized. But when two dozen Czech artists turned themselves to the Prague cops on July 2, ratting themselves out by handing over “incriminating” CDs, Havel was on the street. He offered no support to the critics of this regime.

The Czech law says that anyone who encourages or, supports “the abuse of habit-forming substances other than alcohol through the press, film, radio, television, publicly accessible computer networks, or or in any other comparatively effective way” gets one to five in the slammer. Come to think of it, Havel, dying of lung cancer as the result of very public use of the addictive substance tobacco, probably should turn himself in. He could write his next book on the back of the 6,000 signature petitions handed to him on July 1 by Art Against Censorship, a group that staged a Prague concert against the new law.

Czech cops took the demonstration seriously enough to investigate lyrics like Hudha Praha’s “Everybody smoking marijuana.” Yet not only has Havel been silent, so has the international media (even though Hudha Praha, for instance, records for Sony), with the exception of an article buried in the back pages of Billboard. If a communist regime had done such a thing…ah, but in Havel’s new Czech Republic, a journalist was threatened with five years in prison for advocating socialist revolution, so there’s no need to worry about that.

Here in the States, we worry about relatively slight incursions on the First Amendment–and we should. No farther away than Mexico, the stuff of John Ashcroft’s repressive dreams happens regularly. On July 18, Baja California radio stations promised in writing to air no more narcocorridos, corridos (polka-beat ballads) about the dope trade which outsell almost any other popular music in northern Mexico and, among Chicanos, in parts of the U.S. Southwest, too. (For a gripping explanation of all this, I recommend Elijah Wald’s book, Narcocorrido and its CD soundtrack, Corridos Y Narcocorridos [Fonovisa, Mex.]) A radio industry representative in Baja said his clients wanted to help “in eliminating themes that go against good, moral customs and apologize for violence.” He didn’t say whether the stations would oppose the governments of Mexico and the United States which create the violence, support and benefit from the drug trade, and behave immorally every single day, often in collusion with each other.

Baja’s censorship presents a NAFTA dilemma. U.S. stations operate under no such restrictions. But as Wald stresses, few Mexicans use the drugs the narcocorridos discuss. Drugs are an export product and the importers are all Yankees, as are the users.

In easier times, the Yanqui government’s hypocrisy on drugs and censorship made me laugh and cringe. Now, smiling is out of the question. U.S. troops will invade Colombia-although the news takes a backseat to Palestine and Pakistan, it’s still just a question of when. The pretext will be the drug trade. The true target will be advocates of socialist revolution.

Meantime, in Miami, hiphoppers Busta Rhymes, Ja Rules and Ashanti played a benefit for Janet Reno campaign for Florida governor. I guess they don’t know that Reno made it plain both as Dade County (Miami) DA and as U.S. attorney general that she advocated ruthless suppression of poor people who get caught making their living selling drugs, and of the poor (but not rich) people who use them.

To quote a song Tipper likes, it’s a small world after all.

DeskScan
(what’s playing in my office)

1. The Complete John Lee Hooker, Vol. 4: Detroit 1950-51 (Body & Soul, Fr.) – The most important blues reissue series in memory. Beautiful sound, annotation that seems to get better (Neil Slaven starts out this time with the fact that, in the third year of his recording career, Hooker had already made 164 sides!). He never sounded better than he does here-at his peak, he’s a nastier Muddy Waters.

2. The Rising, Bruce Springsteen (Sony)

3. Love That Louie: The Louie Louie Files (Ace UK)–Includes a dozen important Louies, rarities like Jack Ely’s “Louie Louie ’66,” source material (“One for My Baby,” “El Loco Cha Cha”), and sequels (“Have Love Will Travel”). Arguably the greatest rock’n’roll anthology of all time. Or, I guess, the worst.

4. Africa Raps (Trikont)–Hip-hop jes grew to cover the entire planet. When it got ALL the way back to everybody’s original home, it grew beautiful, important, relevant, all-encompassing again. (www.trikont.de)

5. Watermelon, Chicken and Gritz, Nappy Roots (Atlantic)

6. The Dark, Guy Clark (Sugar Hill)

7. “Sway” and “Moonlight Mile,” Alvin Youngblood Hart from Songs of the Rolling Stones, All Blues’d Up (Compendia This Ain’t No Tribute series)

8. Try Again, Mike Ireland and Holler (Ashmont)

9. Adult World, Wayne Kramer (MuscleTone)

10. 18, Moby (V2)

11. 1000 Kisses, Patty Griffin (ATO)

12. Living in a New World, Willie King and the Liberators (Rooster Blues)-“Talk about terror,” sings the West Alabama activist-bluesman, “I been terrorized all my life.” The freest, most compelling music King has made.

13. Que Pasa?: The Best of the Fania All-Stars (Columbia/Legacy)

14. Millionaire, Kevin Welch (Dead Reckoning)

15. Keep on Burning, Bob Frank (Bowstring)

Dave Marsh coedits Rock and Rap Confidential. Marsh is the author of The Heart of Rock and Soul: the 1001 Greatest Singles.

He can be reached at: marsh6@optonline.net

 

Dave Marsh edits Rock & Rap Confidential, one of CounterPunch’s favorite newsletters, now available for free by emailing: rockrap@aol.com. Dave blogs at http://davemarsh.us/

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
February 17, 2017
Friday - Sunday
David Price
Rogue Elephant Rising: The CIA as Kingslayer
Matthew Stevenson
Is Trump the Worst President Ever?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Flynn?
John Wight
Brexit and Trump: Why Right is Not the New Left
Diana Johnstone
France: Another Ghastly Presidential Election Campaign; the Deep State Rises to the Surface
Neve Gordon
Trump’s One-State Option
Roger Harris
Emperor Trump Has No Clothes: Time to Organize!
Joan Roelofs
What Else is Wrong with Globalization
Andrew Levine
Why Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban?
Mike Whitney
Blood in the Water: the Trump Revolution Ends in a Whimper
Vijay Prashad
Trump, Turmoil and Resistance
Ron Jacobs
U.S. Imperial War Personified
David Swanson
Can the Climate Survive Adherence to War and Partisanship?
Andre Vltchek
Governor of Jakarta: Get Re-elected or Die!
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Destruction of Mosul
Norman Pollack
Self-Devouring Reaction: Governmental Impasse
Steve Horn
What Do a Louisiana Pipeline Explosion and Dakota Access Pipeline Have in Common? Phillips 66
Brian Saady
Why Corporations are Too Big to Jail in the Drug War
Graham Peebles
Ethiopia: Peaceful Protest to Armed Uprising
Luke Meyer
The Case of Tony: Inside a Lifer Hearing
Binoy Kampmark
Adolf, The Donald and History
Robert Koehler
The Great American Awakening
Murray Dobbin
Canadians at Odds With Their Government on Israel
Fariborz Saremi
A Whole New World?
Joyce Nelson
Japan’s Abe, Trump & Illegal Leaks
Christopher Brauchli
Trump 1, Tillerson 0
Yves Engler
Is This Hate Speech?
Dan Bacher
Trump Administration Exempts Three CA Oil Fields From Water Protection Rule at Jerry Brown’s Request
Richard Klin
Solid Gold
Melissa Garriga
Anti-Abortion and Anti-Fascist Movements: More in Common Than Meets the Eye
Thomas Knapp
The Absurd Consequences of a “Right to Privacy”
W. T. Whitney
The Fate of Prisoner Simón Trinidad, as Seen by His U. S. Lawyer
Brian Platt
Don’t Just Oppose ICE Raids, Tear Down the Whole Racist Immigration Enforcement Regime
Paul Cantor
Refugee: the Compassionate Mind of Egon Schwartz
Norman Richmond
The Black Radical Tradition in Canada
Barton Kunstler
Rallying Against the Totalitarian Specter
Judith Deutsch
Militarism:  Revolutionary Mothering and Rosie the Riveter
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir Evoked a Lot More International Attention in the 1950s Than It Does Now
Adam Phillips
There Isn’t Any There There
Louis Proyect
Steinbeck’s Red Devils
Randy Shields
Left Coast Date: the Dating Site for the ORWACA Tribe
Charles R. Larson
Review: Bill Hayes’ “Insomniac City”
David Yearsley
White Supremacy and Music Theory
February 16, 2017
Peter Gaffney
The Rage of Caliban: Identity Politics, the Travel Ban, and the Shifting Ideological Framework of the Resistance
Ramzy Baroud
Farewell to Doublespeak: Israel’s Terrifying Vision for the Future
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail