'Death Metal' Bill Considered In California

Testimony was heard from a man who says his son hanged himself while listening to the Sex Pistols.

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

industries."

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.