Slade Gorton

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Slade Gorton (January 8, 1928 - 19 August 2020) was an American politician and member of the U.S. Republican Party. Between 1981 and 1987, and again from 1989 until 2001, he was a U.S. Senator from Washington State.

Zappa and Slade Gorton

In the 1980s Slade Gorton was in favor of the PMRC. During one of the congressional hearings of September 19, 1985 he addressed Zappa with the following "statement": "Mr. Zappa, I ah, am astounded at the ah, courtesy and soft-voiced ah, nature of the comments of my friend the senator from Tennessee. I can only say that I find your statement to be boorish, ah, incredibly and ah, insensitively insulting the people who were here previously. That you could manage to get the first amendment of the Constitution of the United States a bad name - if I doubt that you have the slightest understanding of it - which I do not, and have the slightest understanding of the difference between government action and private action. And ah, you have certainly destroyed any case you might otherwise have had with this senator. Thank you Mr. Chairman." to which Zappa simply snapped back: "Is this private action?"

Gorton's statement was later sampled on the tracks Congress Shall Make No Law and Porn Wars.

Zappa about Slade Gorton

"(...) 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what we were discussing, and to remind vermin like Senator Gorton that, in spite of their bizarre interpretation, this 'historical document' was still in existence.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." - Quoted from Z-Pack - Closing letter, 1985.

See also