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Zappa Testifies at Hearing on Sale of Obscene Records to Minors

March 19, 1986

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) _ Rock musician Frank Zappa on Tuesday told a Senate committee considering a bill to ban the sale of obscene records and tapes to minors that rock lyrics don’t lead youths to suicide or murder.

There was no scientific evidence that rock lyrics cause anti-social behavior, said the 45-year-old Baltimore native.

″You can’t point to statistics showing people doing strange things in the vicinity of rock music,″ he said. ″Look at all the normal kids who live with it every day and are not committing suicide and don’t commit murder, and in some cases, grow up to be legislators.″

Zappa fans packed the hearing room of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee to get a chance to hear the rock musician, who is known for his offbeat and sometimes obscene lyrics. Many stopped for autographs and applauded his testimony.

He came to Maryland at the invitation of lobbyist Bruce Bereano, who is representing the Recording Association of America, which is opposed to the bill that passed the House of Delegates last month.

″Rock music is not written or performed for conservative tastes,″ Zappa told the committee. ″It was not designed for easy listening for mom and dad.″

Delegate Judith Toth, sponsor of the legislation, told the committee that it is not a censorship bill.

″This bill is a statement that the state of Maryland will not tolerate the commercial exploitation of our youth,″ said Ms. Toth.

The bill does not prohibit free speech or artistic creativity, she said. The issue is to whom some materials can be sold, she said.

It also seeks to address the contradiction that young people cannot buy pornographic books but can listen to pornographic literature.

″I am not some right-wing radical,″ said Ms. Toth, who added the bill was an attack on pornography, not profanity or sexual references in records.

″Please think of the children,″ she said. ″Think of contaminating young minds. Think of kids growing up to the sound of glorified rape and sexual violence. Think of our obligation to protect our youth,″ she said.

Five other states are considering similar legislation, said Tony Steidler- Dennison, head of the Recording Retailers Opposing Censorship, a Maryland group opposed to bill.

Zappa, who got his start in 1964 with his group, The Mothers of Invention, arrived at Baltimore-Washington International Airport on Monday and was the guest at a reception in Annapolis thrown by Bereano for legislators and the press.

Zappa’s latest album, ″Frank Zappa Meets The Mothers of Prevention,″ was released after last year’s U.S. Senate committee hearings on attempts to set up a rating system for records similar to movie ratings. The album contained a mix of instrumentals, off-color songs and testimony from the hearing.

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