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Free Speech Gone Wrong 

Wanted: Human salt-shakers in the increasingly tasteless world of art, music and entertainment   

By psychologist Dr. Bruce L. Thiessen, aka Dr. BLT 

Phantom Tollbooth visitors: Download the free two-song "soundtrack for this article" by yours truly via this link: 
Free Speech Gone Wrong (Part I) 

Free Speech Gone Wrong (Part II) 

Christians are called to be the salt of the earth?  So how does one apply salt to the community of art, music and entertainment without trampling on free speech rights?  How does one protest the "tasteless" kiss between Madonna and Britney Spears at the infamous MTV Video-Music Awards ceremony I once referred to as The Pimp and Ho Show? <> 

How does one prevent the type of half-time peep shows like the one involving Janet Jackson at the most talked about Super Bowl half-time show in history?  How do concerned Christians respond to the America-hating, governmental authority-bashing artwork of Stephen Pearcy on display at (of all places) the Department of Justice in Sacramento? How about the twisted, perverse "artwork" of American shock photorgrapher, Robert Maplethorpe, or the prurient auditory "art" of Marilyn Manson, or, in some cases, Korn? What about what amounts to perhaps the most outrageous piece of work ever introduced, the P--ss Christ (I just can't bring myself to put the two words together), a blasphemous piece of photography introduced by "artist" Andres Serrana, depicting a small plastic crucifix submerged in a glass of his own urine?  I've only touched the tip of the poisonous iceberg.  I've already ranted and raved about Lil' Kim's corrupting influence on our youth: not, to mention the effects of the small change offered by 50 Cent

I would like to shelter everyone, particularly our children an teens from tasteless, perverse and violent "art," but the fact remains, censorship too can kill.  Censorship is often associated with Fascism.  Apart from protecting children and screening out threats to the safety and security of our citizens, can censorship really have an appropriate role in a democratic, free society?  Censorship is problematic in a democratically-governed nation, particularly because the arbiter of what is proper expression is left in the hands of the ruling class.  What if the government becomes corrupt?  Moreover, whenever a particular group or community is offended by a given work of art, and then seeks to ban it, the artist and work they seek to ban is often tremendously rewarded by such an effort.  Instead of going away, the artist is empowered and embolden by the "banned" label.  

As an alternative to censorship (except where it involves the potential risk of harm to children), I'm putting out a call to arms to all Christ-centered artists.  Instead of expending all of your energy trying to get museums to rid their walls of filth, and radio stations to cull out the vile, shock rock and degenerate rap from their play lists, I suggest flooding the market with art that infuses humanity with decency, perspective, values and the affirmation of life.  I suggest countering malignant music, malicious movies, television void of vision, and audacious art with the moving music, magnanimous movies, and admirable art that inspires God's creatures to act like God's creatures and to praise the Lord who created the creative drive in artists of all ages and varieties.  Lyrics can counter songs with deleterious lyrical content directly, like a letter to the editor counters an outrageous newspaper article, or, indirectly, by rising above the fray and offering a positive message of hope, values clarification and substance.   The same can be said of visual art, drama, poetry, and the like.    I don't write for Phantom Tollbooth for money.  I write for Phantom Tollbooth because it offers a Christian perspective on music and entertainment, and thus, it affords me, a self-proclaimed Christ-centered writer, the opportunity to do my job as a salt-shaker.  To obey the scriptural command to be the "salt of the earth.=. ot;  Salt generally stings when it is placed on a wound.  The artistic ambience out there these days is tantamount to a great big festering wound.  Music has become ill.  Entertainment has come down with the flu.  Art is suffering from a heart condition.  I am careful in how I apply the salt to the wound.  As the "Rock doc," I always watch my bedside manner.  I go out of my way not to present myself as holier than thou, or judgmental in any way.  I have no ground to stand on as the scriptures remind me that "all our righteousness is as filthy rags."  The question is, to we keep the salt to ourselves simply because we too, are wounded?  The answer is an unequivocal "No!"  Artists, musicians, movie producers, and listeners, stand up for what is right even though you are the descendants of a decadent Adam and Eve.  Know who you are in Christ---lambs purified by the blood of the Shepherd.  

Free speech is a wonderful gift to all those who want to use their talents to proclaim a message of deliverance based on a gospel of grace.  Just ask those who have lived in communist countries:  Free speech is one of those gifts you don't value enough until it's taken away.   Yes, in this nation of ours, free speech as gone wrong, way wrong.  So it's up to us to every one of us Christ-centered "salt-shakers" of the earth to speak out with voice, drum, guitar, paint, and above all, with passion.  Free speech gone wrong?  Is the answer censorship?  Two wrongs don't make a right.  But you can take what's wrong and make it right.  Like the Beatles said in Hey Jude, "...take a sad song, and make it better."      


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