were the real goals of the PMRC's founders?
Should we question their sincerity? Are they
simply hypocrites? Can we believe their alibi?
Were they really only trying to protect and
inform? Who were their real targets?
For one thing, one has to stress their links
with religious organisations, though they
repeatedly denied them. I have already mentioned
the support the PMRC received at the outset from
various churches. Some went further; Parental
Guidance or Christ Disciples, among others,
regularly carried information related to the
PMRC in their brochures, and encouraged their
members to support it financially. The PMRC even
asked Bob DeMoss, from fundamentalist
organisation Focus on the Family, to produce
their promotional video Rising to the Challenge.
It is also striking that among the legislators
who promoted the censorship bills, several (Rep.
Jean Dixon from Missouri for instance) had long
been supporting causes (the anti-abortion
movement or the right to teach Creation Science)
that were on the agenda of the Religious Right.
For religious motives are difficult to
disentangle from political intentions. This
appeared extremely clearly in Jerry Falwell's
book Listen, America!.
One can find in it the thesis, taken up by the
leaders of the PMRC, that the liberals are
responsible for the loosening of moral standards
and that they are on the same footing as
pornographers '[The liberals] are not going to
call our nation back to righteousness and
neither are the pornographers and smut peddlers
and those who are corrupting our youth' (1980,
p.21). For Falwell, the deterioration of the
country's morality was a deliberate action by
the liberals and part of the communist plot
aiming at unsettling America. As a result,
writes Yves Lemeunier, 'morality has become the
instrument of a kind of political racism in
whose name part of the population is
irretrievably condemned' (1988, p.115).
Certainly, the PMRC did not go so far but its
links with fundamentalist groups cast suspicion
on its professed political neutrality. All the
more so as Jerry Falwell and President Reagan
officially endorsed its action.
Deeper motives for the PMRC's action are
suggested by the fact that its most frequent
targets were heavy-metal and rap music, two
genres traditionally (though erroneously)
associated to minority groups, working class
youth and the black community. In the heyday of
the PMRC, rap's success had dramatically
increased. An RIAA CEO quoted in the L.A.
of July 19, 1992 claimed that 'rap has empowered
an entire new generation of successful young
black entrepreneurs', too disquieting a fact for
some, perhaps. Besides, a Sound Data survey
published in the same issue revealed that 74% of
all rap albums where sold to whites, which made
it all the more threatening.