Z-Pack - Closing letter
It's Not Over Yet, Folks!
Okay... the 'hearing' is over... you think it's all going to fade into the sunset now, right? Not quite. The GOOD NEWS is the PMRC has given up on all demands EXCEPT that SOME KIND OF SYMBOL APPEARS ON THE FRONT OF AN ALBUM WITH 'UNDESIRABLE CONTENT'. That's right. Just a 'tiny little symbol' on the front. Is this too much to ask? YOU BET IT IS!
That 'tiny little symbol' still requires somebody else to decide what those lyrics mean, and whether or not they are 'filthy'. This determination is the responsibility of individual parents making decisions based on standards in their community, not those of a record executive in New York or Hollywood.
Most of you did not see or hear what really happened during the 'hearing'. There was quite a bit of 'news management' taking place, especially regarding my testimony. CNN viewers saw only the semi-apoplectic Senator Gorton denouncing me for my 'Constitutional ignorance'.
Under the 'hearing' rules, I was not allowed to say anything in response, however, I would like to take this opportunity to remind him that although I flunked just about everything else in high school, I did get an "A" in Civics, and secondly, if he wanted to tell me I was just an ignorant musician, why didn't he use the Koppel method and say, "Now, Mr. Zappa, you're an intelligent man..." Anybody who gets that recitation from Ted twice in one episode of Nightline has surely been told how stupid he is.
Since the media coverage was enormous, including foreign press, I began my testimony with a 'reference reading' of The First Amendment so that people outside the U.S. might understand what we were discussing, and to remind vermin like Senator Gorton that, in spite of their bizarre interpretation, this 'historical document' was still in existence. The 'hearing' lasted about 5 hours. The 'denouncement' was the only thing offered by Gorton during the whole event. No questions. No debate. Just a photo opportunity for another Congressional bozo.
Since my written speech would have lasted longer than the 10 minutes I was allotted, I read a short version. The full version prepared testimony. After reading it, I proposed a solution to the whole matter, based on a suggestion from my attorney, Larry Stein. Senator Hollings (the one who said "IF I COULD DO AWAY WITH ALL OF THIS MUSIC CONSTITUTIONALLY, I WOULD ...") said, in the hearing, on the record, that he preferred my proposal to the PMRC rating idea. You never heard about it, did you?
This revolutionary proposal is very simple. No rating. No sticker. No committee decisions. Let the parent decide after reading the lyrics. The lyrics would be printed on a sheet of white paper (preferably with a First Amendment Reminder at the top of the page), under the shrink-wrap on the back of the album. For cassettes, an accordion-fold. Since they asked for it, we'll let the PMRC figure out how to PAY for it. The royalties to writers and publishers must be paid at the statutory rate. The cost of printing must be paid. Once the album leaves the store with this information on it, you can't bring it back.
Any kind of warning system is going to cost money. This one puts the responsibility for the decision of what is clean or dirty where it belongs: in the hands of the parents. IF MILLIONS OF PARENTS REALLY WANT THIS, THEN FUNDING IT SHOULD NOT BE A PROBLEM. If not: most record stores still have a CHILDREN'S SECTION. You can always shop there.