I write like
Cory Doctorow

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What is said and what is heard

Here are a few lines of verse released a little over 25 years ago:
'Cause you feel life's unreal and you're living a lie
Such a shame who's to blame and you're wondering why
Then you ask from your cask is there life after birth
What you saw can mean hell on this earth
Click here for the artist/songwriter and title.

Many years ago, these words and others in the song were listened to over and over by a young man who then took his own life. The questions asked at the time (and I was a teenager fully into the heavy metal scene then) was did the song lead this kid into doing what he did?

The song is really about the death of former AC/DC lead singer Bon Scott. The second word of the song's title refers to mixture of alcohols, not what one develops to overcome a problem, suggesting that suicide is a fix to a problem.

I was pretty outraged to even hear the conversation. As a teen myself at the time, I knew other teens who were struggling with emotional issues that teens deal with. Most of us found reasonably health ways of dealing with those issues while the rest struggled to cope.

Was there anger to feel? Sure. It's perfectly understandable to be angry at the kid's parents, family, friends, teachers and school administrators for not seeing the signs of depression in this young man and intervening. To blame a flamboyant singer and songwriter who recorded the song somewhere far away, not knowing who bought any one of several million copies of the album would listen, is the last person to blame. I didn't buy the album, but I have heard plenty of music with pretty dark lyrics and I'm still here and writing. If it wasn't this song, the young man may just as well as found some other outlet for dealing with his mental health issues.

So, what does this guy:

have to do with this guy?

If you've been following the news on the passage of health insurance reform, many a liberal talker can't help but take a pass at what Glenn Beck has been saying about the bill before it was passed. MediaMatters.org has been documenting every little nugget of Beck-ness as of late.

Let me make clear: I'm not a fan of Glenn Beck.

That said, to point at Beck and knit his words / performance to any of the violence and profanity-laced ugliness being sent at some in Congress in recent days looks to me a whole lot like pinning one young man's death be pinned to a song on an Ozzy Osbourne album that had nothing to do with the act of killing one's self.

I would much rather keep Beck on the air, jabbing at blackboards and emoting all over the place, then have any performer become censored. If those individuals who are lashing out at select Representatives don't tune in to Beck, they would only find someone else to listen to and would find the permission they think they need to behave they way they are behaving.

You can't stop political talk just like you can't stop rock and roll. But if the line between discourse and provocation begins to spill over into anxiety, depression and a need to do harm to one's self or others, please click the link I'll always keep at the top of this page.

Then tune the radio/TV to another station.

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