Freedom of speech and self censoring

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Wal-Mart recently announced they will not be stocking shelves with Green Day?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s new album, ?¢‚Ǩ?ì21st Century Breakdown?¢‚Ǩ¬ù because of language and what they refer to as ?¢‚Ǩ?ìadult content?¢‚Ǩ¬ù (except you can get it in Canada).?Ǭ†In fact, Wal-Mart told Green Day that if the band provides an edited version, they?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ll stock it.

I?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢m fine with any store deciding what they will and will not sell on their own shelves, but I think it is?Ǭ†presumptuous for the store to expect bands to edit their works. In this case, I think it is?Ǭ†hypocritical?Ǭ†for Wal-Mart to offer censored products. I mean, if they want to take a moral stance, why not refuse to stock the products at all, edited or otherwise, if they don’t agree with some of the content?

I strongly support all artists having the freedom to produce whatever material they want. I believe consumers should be able to decide what art is?Ǭ†appropriate?Ǭ†for their purchase, and that businesses shouldn’t be making that choice for them.

15 thoughts on “Freedom of speech and self censoring

  1. When we refer to freedom of speech versus censorship, we are referring to the government getting in the way. The government isn’t telling anyone that they can’t buy or sell the CD.
    Walmart choosing not to stock it is a completely appropriate thing in my opinion. Retail stores always make judgement calls on what they want to stock in their store. Walmart usually refused to stock expensive things, or very specialized things. Walmart thinks of their clientele and what they expect at their store.
    It completely makes sense for Walmart to mention that they would carry an edited version if there was one. TV stations and airlines request edited versions of movies and get them. Radios sometimes (not always) have an edited version of a song.
    There are a long of movies and TV shows that I would LOVE to have an edited version of. The language or the sex scenes are too graphic for my taste. Yet, the storyline is good and the acting is good so I want to watch the show.

  2. You are forgetting the golden rule.

    Whoever has the gold makes the rules. As someone who works for a company who does business with Walmart – they have the gold and make the rules.

    On the plus side this does drive innovation and advancement, especially through the supply chain.

    On the negative, they are by far the most difficult people to supply for.

    There is a reason they have low prices, but don’t forget that someone is paying for it; just not the end customer directly.

  3. The issue isn’t that they should stock it, but that they are expecting Green Day to edit their CD. They shouldn’t, and have no right to ask that. If they don’t want to stock it, fine, but to demand that an artist or anyone make changes to their product is wrong (when it comes to artistic license).

    They didn’t just ‘ask’ they said they wanted an edited CD. What they should have done was just say ‘nope, not selling this one’.

    I also think it’s rich they are taking a moral stance on this when they are one of the worst employers on the planet (besides all the other atrocious things they perpetuate in the industry). Morality isn’t only about language or sexual content. It has to do with ethics and integrity as well.

  4. I disagree. Walmart is a friend to the average consumer. Walmart probably feels like there are many people who would prefer an edited version and they could sell it. Walmart, in effect, is like many consumers banding together to negotiate lower cost, or a more consumer friendly version of something. An individual consumer has almost no power.
    Walmart has successfully negotiated lower prices and they have PASSED ON THOSE SAVINGS TO THE CONSUMER! What is not to like?
    What is interesting, is that the type of people who usually tend to hate Walmart are the type who usually care about the little guy and wish big businesses would care about the little guy. Unfortunately, they are completely blind when it comes to Walmart. When Walmart negiotiates with ‘big businesses’ and gets the best prices for their stuff, they are helping the little guy.
    I like Walmart.
    (Of course when they do anything illegal with employee’s rights they should be held accountable).
    I have to also object to the idea that a PRIVATE COMPANY choosing to not stock something, or want a cleaner version, is not CENSORSHIP vs. FREE SPEECH.
    There is a HUGE market for edited movies……even TV stations show movies edited for content, or even edited to fit in their time slot. I hate that Hollywood cares more about pushing the envelope than about decency in entertainment.

  5. Walmart has every right to ask if an artist is willing to change their art.

    And the artist has every right to say no.

    The only issue is money, because selling through Walmart means a lot of dollars. Good for Green Day for saying no. My work asks Walmart how high when they say jump, but then again we aren’t artists either.

  6. I’s agree with jks as long as by “pushing the envelope” it’s means ‘portraying reality’.

    Nudity and profanity are part of day-to-day life.

    I have seen very little in edgy productions from the Hollywood machine as of late.

  7. I disagree Kim. I applaud Walmart’s efforts to get artists (Whether tv, radio, or movie) to clean up their acts. And if they choose not to then they have the right to not allow it in the store. You choose what movies you go to or watch on your computers/tv so basically telling artists you won’t watch that movie because of the profanity or nudity or violence etc. You do so because you are “protecting” your family from the current trends of people thinking it is perfectly alright to use profanity in every other word.

    Walmart is doing the same thing. You make an edited version and we will sell it. I tell people who swear in my house to not do it again if they choose not to comply with my rules they go and are not invited back. We watched a movie last week that was very good, not one word of profanity, not one moment of nudity, not one sex scene. When I was mentioning that to a friend of mine she said oh don’t be ridiculous and get over it. ALL good movies have those in it, it’s part of life. Well it’s not a part of my life. I figure if I refuse to rent or go see a movie that has those issues in them, then sooner or later the Directors, or musical groups or artists will get the point.

    I have no idea who Green Day is so doubtful I would ever get anything from them but am assuming from your comments they are a musical group. Had I not read your post on Walmart’s stance I would have not known the group used profanity.

    Kudos to Walmart although I am not a Walmart shopper preferring Zellers, I am glad they are making a stand.

  8. “not one moment of nudity, not one sex scene”
    “…it’s part of life. Well it’s not a part of my life.”

    I assume that Kim was immaculately conceived… :P

  9. I applaud Walmart’s efforts to get artists (Whether tv, radio, or movie) to clean up their acts.

    I don’t. Businesses should not be telling artists what do with their art, cleaning up or otherwise.

    You choose what movies you go to or watch on your computers/tv so basically telling artists you won’t watch that movie because of the profanity or nudity or violence etc.

    Right, and that choice should remain with the consumer. Consumers should be able to dictate what they want to listen to, watch or read based on their own morals and values. Businesses should not be trying to make that decision for them.

    If they want to not carry it, fine. If they want to carry an already existing edited version, fine. But don’t demand an artist change their works for your business.

    I wonder if the films Wal-Mart sells are all edited.

  10. ha ha Rick.. I will give you that one ;) I walked right into that one with both eyes wide open :) I meant watching movies or tv shows like that are not part of my life :)

    Kim I don’t see from your post where Wal-Mart is telling them they HAVE to give them an edited version. They are just choosing to not carry that particular one. I am sure there are many other groups that they do the same thing to. They are telling them (from what I get) that they are not saying they will never carry their music or they are boycotting the group entirely just this particular cd. They are not telling them to clean up their act or take their rights from them. But they have to go by the bottom line.. who will carry the most weight with their decision? The very few customers who actually know who this group is and would even buy it? Or the many customers that are going to complain that they are selling cd’s with that kind of profanity? I would think they are going to listen to the latter.

    They did not tell this group they can no longer make the same kind of music.. all the music they want to make the way they want to make it and who they want to listen to their music. They are leaving the group’s choice with the group.

    Businesses have to draw the line somewhere. Wal-Mart could easily start selling pornographic magazines or paraphernalia that belongs in an adult only store. They could use your reasoning as well it’s up to the consumer to decide whether to purchase those items here. But no one is getting up in arms because they aren’t carrying those lines. And yet magazine reps etc could be saying hey it’s discriminatory. They shouldn’t tell us what to put in our magazines. If they carry one they have to carry them all.

    Just as adult oriented stores would in all probability not carry Dora merchandise. Customers could say hey you guys are not carrying it. You should and let me make that choice of whether I purchase it or not. It’s the same principle.

    Each business has to draw the line somewhere. It is what makes them stand out from the businesses that don’t care a single iota in what is right and wrong. As long as they make a dollar they couldn’t care less of who complains or who their customers are.

    I was in Zellers a few months ago and I saw not one but 2 different women in 2 different areas of the store carrying one of those toy dogs in their arms. Actually one was in the woman’s arms one was in a purse sort of carry all with it’s head sticking out. I got upset. I went and spoke to the manager and asked him when did it become store policy to allow animals other then seeing eye dogs in the store. I told him that I might be just one customer and in the grand scheme of things it probably wouldn’t make a bit of difference if I never came back, but if they did not ask the women to leave, I was going to leave and not return. Shortly after I saw him with one of the women and she got mad but did leave albeit very noisily.

    He made a choice at that moment of who had the greater power. The odd person coming in with a dog or every one else. I noticed the next time I was there that there now was a sign on the main entrance saying only dogs for the disabled are allowed in the store.

    Same principle.

  11. I personally like the music Green Day plays on the radio unfortunately you can’t buy that kind of music, in Canada. When you go to buy the album you get an uncensored version which I don’t like. I like the fact that I would be able to buy a censored/radio version at Walmart if I lived in the US.

    I am fairly certain that Walmart stands to lose profit by not providing the uncensored version of the album so I am not sure where “businesses are trying to make decisions for them”. I think it really comes down to what the consumer is willing to pay for. I kind of think you are missing the link between the consumer and the artist because of your Walmart bias.

    While I agree that an artist should have license to make what they want they do not have license to dictate that we sell it. I understand that you are not taking this stance but I suggest that Walmart was actually assisting Green Day by letting them know they won’t be carrying their album but offering them the option to censor their if they wanted them to carry it. I don’t see the strong arming in this.

  12. I don’t see from your post where Wal-Mart is telling them they HAVE to give them an edited version.

    That’s because my post doesn’t say that.

    They are just choosing to not carry that particular one.

    Wal-Mart didn’t just say to Green Day, “We are not carrying your new album”. For that matter, nor did they say, “Oh, by the way, if you happen to have an edited version, we’d be happy to sell that”. They demanded an edited version, or so the news articles reported. It’s like they want their cake and the chance to eat it, too.

    Or the many customers that are going to complain that they are selling cd’s with that kind of profanity?

    You mean all those customers who are complaining about the profanity-ridden R-rated movies they carry?

    Wal-Mart could easily start selling pornographic magazines or paraphernalia that belongs in an adult only store. They could use your reasoning as well it’s up to the consumer to decide whether to purchase those items here.

    If we want to use your example, then a parallel would be Wal-Mart demanding Playboy provide magazines without the nudity.

    I’m not arguing Wal-Mart needs to carry Green Days new album. I’m arguing that Wal-Mart needs to not demand Green Day edit their content.

    Each business has to draw the line somewhere.

    So, for Wal-Mart, the line is no music with advisory warnings, but DVDs with nudity ,sex, explicit violence, and profanity is okay? That’s a weird place to draw a line.

    I am fairly certain that Walmart stands to lose profit by not providing the uncensored version of the album

    Lose profit, or miss out on gaining profit? I’m fairly certain they will not lose any existent profit by not carrying it.

    I kind of think you are missing the link between the consumer and the artist because of your Walmart bias

    Which bias is that?

    I would also suggest that Walmart could care less about any kind of moral stance.

    On that we agree.

    Walmart was actually assisting Green Day by letting them know they won’t be carrying their album but offering them the option to censor their if they wanted them to carry it.

    Offering? I guess that’s one way of looking at it.

  13. Walmart doesn’t demand anything, they ask with a lot of power. They have all the power in the relationship as elling at Walmart is the number one place for product sales. Skipping Walmart could mean the end of yuor product at most, at least it means really diminished sales (.e. a lot less money). Walmart knows this so they don’t have to demand anything. It won’t break them if they don’t have your product to sell, but it just might brea you. Hence they just ask, but with all the power.

    That is why Green Day saying no is so great. Unfortunately most don’t. They can’t walk away from the money.

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