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

March 23, 2017
Chip Gibbons
Crusader-in-Chief: the Strange Rehabilitation of George W. Bush
Michael J. Sainato
Cybersecurity Firm That Attributed DNC Hacks to Russia May Have Fabricated Russia Hacking in Ukraine
Chuck Collins
Underwater Nation: As the Rich Thrive, the Rest of Us Sink
CJ Hopkins
The United States of Cognitive Dissonance
Howard Lisnoff
BDS, Women’s Rights, Human Rights and the Failings of Security States
Mike Whitney
Will Washington Risk WW3 to Block an Emerging EU-Russia Superstate
John Wight
Martin McGuinness: Man of War who Fought for Peace in Ireland
Linn Washington Jr.
Ryancare Wreckage
Eileen Appelbaum
What We Learned From Just Two Pages of Trump’s Tax Returns
Mark Weisbrot
Ecuador’s Elections: Why National Sovereignty Matters
Thomas Knapp
It’s Time to End America’s Longest War
Chris Zinda
Aggregate Journalism at Salon
David Welsh
Bay Area Rallies Against Trump’s Muslim Ban II
March 22, 2017
Paul Street
Russiagate and the Democratic Party are for Chumps
Russell Mokhiber
Single-Payer, the Progressive Caucus and the Cuban Revolution
Gavin Lewis
McCarthyite Anti-Semitism Smears and Racism at the Guardian/Observer
Kathy Kelly
Reality and the U.S.-Made Famine in Yemen
Kim C. Domenico
Ending Our Secret Alliance with Victimhood: Toward an Adult Politics
L. Ali Khan
Profiling Islamophobes
Calvin Priest
May Day: Seattle Educators Moving Closer to Strike
David Swanson
Jimmy Breslin on How to Impeach Trump
Dave Lindorff
There Won’t Be Another Jimmy Breslin
Jonathan Latham
The Meaning of Life
Robert Fisk
Martin McGuinness: From “Super-Terrorist” to Super Statesman
Steve Horn
Architect of Federal Fracking Loophole May Head Trump Environmental Council
Binoy Kampmark
Grief, Loss and Losing a Father
Jim Tull
Will the Poor Always Be With Us?
Jesse Jackson
Trump’s “March Massacre” Budget
Joe Emersberger
Rafael Correa and the Future of Ecuador: a Response to James McEnteer
March 21, 2017
Reshmi Dutt-Ballerstadt
On Being the “Right Kind of Brown”
Kenneth Surin
God, Guns, Gays, Gummint: the Career of Rep. Bad Bob Goodlatte
David Rosen
Popular Insurgencies: Reshaping the Political Landscape
Ryan LaMothe
The Totalitarian Strain in American Democracy
Eric Sommer
The House Intelligence Committee: Evidence Not Required
Mike Hastie
My Lai Massacre, 49 Years Later
James McEnteer
An Era Ends in Ecuador: Forward or Back?
Evan Jones
Beyond the Pale
Stansfield Smith
First Two Months in Power: Hitler vs. Trump
Dulce Morales
A Movement for ‘Sanctuary Campuses’ Takes Shape
Pepe Escobar
Could Great Wall of Iron become New Silk Roadblock?
Olivia Alperstein
Trump Could Start a Nuclear War, Right Now
David Macaray
Norwegians Are the Happiest People on Earth
March 20, 2017
Michael Schwalbe
Tears of Solidarity
Patrick Cockburn
Brexit, Nationalism and the Damage Done
Peter Stone Brown
Chuck Berry: the First Poet of Rock and Roll
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail