The influence of music spans the arc of human history. From police encounters over Elvis Presley’s performances to radio bans on Nina Simone’s civil rights songs to Congressional hearings about John Denver’s lyrics, our country has seen what it looks like to try and silence artists. We’ve also seen them fight back.
Ice-T is one of those artists.
He was the first musician who had a “Parental Advisory” sticker attached to one of his records. The legendary rapper, actor, and producer’s lyrics were considered so vulgar to some that even then President George H.W. Bush and Vice President Dan Quayle expressed objection to the release of one of his songs.
“I was just expressing myself the way I talk,” Ice-T said, in an ad for the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE). The FIRE commercial featuring Ice-T debuted on Thursday, September 22, during NBC’s Law & Order SVU.
“Silencing our artists doesn’t make our society any better or safer,” he says in the ad.
According to FIRE, “nearly 6-in-10 Americans believe our nation’s democracy is threatened because people are afraid to voice their opinions.”
As the sense of political polarization and toxic division increases, the threat to free speech and expression grows, too.
“We don’t have to like what we hear, but we all have the right to express ourselves,” says Ice-T.
Yet, when those civil liberties are on the line, progress is, too. The ability of people to speak out against injustice played a critical role in women’s suffrage, Civil Rights, and marriage equality and continues to clear the way for everyday Americans to speak out and work together to address the biggest challenges of our day.
That’s why FIRE “defends and promotes the value of free speech for all Americans in our courtrooms, on our campuses, and in our culture.”
For a deeper dive on STT’s partnership with FIRE, check out this post.