Friday, May 22, 2009

American Idiots

According to a story in Yahoo News, members of Green Day are angry that Wal-Mart won't stock their latest CD, due to its language and adult content. Wal-Mart sells edited clean versions of CDs by other artists who have the same type of content. Green Day, however is unwilling to "censor" itself. Lead singer Billy Joe Armstrong says, "They want artists to censor their records in order to be carried in there," he said. "We just said no. We've never done it before. You feel like you're in 1953 or something."

Okay, so far fair enough. Wal-Mart insists on selling clean music to its customers, and Green Day refuses to allow an edited version to be sold. Both retain their own principles and integrity, right? But not so fast....

Bassist Mike Dirnt said: "As the biggest record store in the America, they should probably have an obligation to sell people the correct art."

First of all, Wal-Mart has absolutely no obligation to sell something it doesn't want to sell, simply so that Green Day can make more money. Green Day members are apparently angry that Wal-Mart has a choice in the matter, just as they do. Wal-Mart has committed itself to providing "clean" records to its customers, so that customers -- or more likely, parents of customers -- know that the music sold there does not contain certain content. Wal-Mart's obligation, if it has any, is to take care of its customers. Selling Green Day's unedited CD would violate Wal-Mart's voluntary agrement with its customers.

Next, Wal-Mart is not asking Green Day to censor anything. Censorship is the suppression of speech. Green Day has not been forced to be silent about any subject, nor to change their language. What they want to say in their music is widely available, in the way they want to say it. There is no censorship involved here. Wal-Mart, a private company, says it will not provide a channel for Green Day to sell their music. That's all.

As of now, no one's rights have been violated, taken away or trampled. If Green Day had their way, however, anyone who disagreed with them would not have the right to express it. Like a spoiled two-year-old, Green Day members are simply throwing a tantrum because they can't have everything their way. They're acting like American Idiots.

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