A committee of the California State Assembly held informational hearings
Wednesday to consider a bill that would require the state to divest its
holdings from companies that produce violent or offensive music.
The proposed legislation follows a similar measure passed in Texas last
year that forbids state investment in companies producing music that meets
state criteria for offensiveness.
"It is ... unfair to try to chill the speech of America's performing
artists, yet that is precisely what this bill would do, undermining the
freedom of expression that is at the heart of the Constitution and
America's soul," said Hilary Rosen, president of the Recording Industry
Association of America, in her testimony at Wednesday's hearing. "[This
bill] directly attacks one of California's most creative and vital
If the bill -- sponsored by Republican Assemblyman Keith Olberg -- passes,
it would affect $2 billion in holdings with companies such as Time Warner,
Viacom and Sony, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Olberg's bill specifically targets what he called "death metal" music,
according to the Los Angeles Times. Among those testifying at the
hearing was Barry Bratt, who said his 13-year-old son hanged himself while
listening to the Sex Pistols, and Tony Tiujaga, a self-described former
member of the Bloods gang who said a fellow gang member polished weapons to Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust."
In Texas last year, Republican Governor George W. Bush signed into law a
similar measure that forbids state holdings in any company that produces
musical works that explicitly describe, glamorize or advocate criminal
violence, robbery, gang activity, drug use, denigration of women or several
other offending practices.
Last month, a subcommittee of the Texas State House of Representatives held
hearings about the feasibility of adhering to the investment rule, which
requires all state divestiture to take place by Sept. 1, 1998.