September 11, 2001: Looking Back on Media Censorship Post 9/11

“They can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

~ Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

Freedom of expression has been in focus following the September 11th attacks on the United States. All material in this section focus on the aftermath of the attacks. They do not all necessarily deal with direct censorship of music, but more with the effect on basic human rights, and on cultural life in general after September 11th.

Primal Scream change title and lyrics

The UK band have made a dramatic u-turn and re-recorded ‘Bomb the Pentagon’ in the wake of September 11 (May 29, 2002)

Ban the bomb

Primal Scream’s new album looks set to be banned in the U.S. – for featuring their controversial song ‘Bomb the Pentagon’. The song, a bitter attack on US foreign policy, was premiered live just before the September 11 terror attacks (April 10, 2002)

John Adams banned in Boston

Because of the September 11th terror attacks, the Boston Symphony Orchestra has decided to cancel “The Death of Klinghoffer“, the both emotionally and politically sadly relevant John Adams opera (November 25, 2001)

CNN “Worldbeat”: A Victim Of Terrorism

Another TV music outlet has gone as a side-effect of the September 11th terror attacks              (November 13, 2001)

The culture of conflict: September 11 effects

The attacks in America may cause a change of heart in Hollywood, but what of the other arts? And what will be the effect on the creative scene in Britain? From dance to pop, Guardian critics assess the likely impact (September 29, 2001)

Musical responses to 9/11: From Conservative patriotism to radicalism

This article poses the question: What would a suitable American popular music response to the events of 9/11 sound like? Read the chapter by Martin Cloonan, from the book “9/11 – The world’s all out of tune” (December 9, 2004)

Musical responses to 9/11: List of allegedly ‘banned’ songs

A list of “lyrically inappropriate” songs banned from some US radio stations in the wake of the World Trade Center attacks in 2001 (December 9, 2004)

Cat Stevens denied access “on national security grounds”

US officials identified that the singer, whose name is now Yusuf Islam, was on one of their “watch lists”. After an interview, the singer – who converted to Islam in 1977 – was denied entry into the US   (September 22, 2004)

The world’s all out of tune: Popular music after 9/11

“9/11 – The world’s all out of tune. Populäre Musik nach dem 11. September 2001”. New book – in German – on music after September 11, out October 2004 (September 14, 2004)

New US study on cultural exchanges since September 11

U.S Homeland Security and State departments are encouraged to “work together to improve the current visa situation…so it is less of a barrier for foreign visitors, artists, and scholars, and for the presenters who invite them” (September 10, 2004)

USA: ‘Crash into me, baby!’

America’s implicit music censorship since September 11. Read the chapter from ‘Shoot the Singer!’, by Eric Nuzum on how the September 11 terror attacks have affected freedom of musical expression     (June 3, 2004)

Pakistan: Music video about 9/11 censored

The Pakistani-Canadian rock group Falak has been blacklisted on MTV Pakistan. Their song ‘Yadein II’ is deemed too controversial because of its 9/11 images (February 21, 2007)

France: Musician attacked by airport police

On 9 September 2006 four police officers threw Russian-American trumpet player Valery Ponomarev to the floor, kicking and punching him, twisted his arm back and broke it (October 23, 2006)

Russia: Radical Christians want pop concert banned

Controversy and outrage follows American pop singer Madonna to her world-wide ‘Confessions Tour’ where she is “crucified” on a cross on stage. The act has sparked anger from various religious groups. (September 12, 2006)

Musicians hit by the “9/11-effect”

Tighter restrictions on air travel means that musical instruments are no longer allowed on the plane as carry-on baggage. This has lead to cancellations of concerts and tours (September 11, 2006)

Bob Titley: Artists afraid to speak out

Video interview with one of the founding members of Music Row Democrats, which was born in December 2003 out of frustration and concern about the changing music climate (March 2, 2006)

Freemuse report on censorship in post 9/11 USA

’Singing in the Echo Chamber’. Music censorship in the U.S. after September 11. New report published by Freemuse (February 13, 2006)

Press release: Post 9/11 USA report

Freemuse report on USA after 9/11 (February 13, 2006)

Adults only! New book on censored album covers

With focus on original LP- and CD covers of the past 50 years, a German book and exhibition documents the history of rock- and pop music that has evoked public discussions or even been censored       (October 25, 2004)

9/11: Freemuse conference abstract (WOMEX 2004)

Freedom of musical expression post 9/11: Read abstract from the Freemuse conference session at WOMEX 2004 (October 19, 2004)

WOMEX 2004

This year Freemuse presented two conference sessions: “Meet the banned! Music censorship in Turkey” featured Turkish musician Ferhat Tunç, while “9/11 – The world’s all out of tune” presented a new book on freedom of musical expression after 9/11 (October 19, 2004)

CRAG Report: The Missing Cuban Musicians

No Cuban bands have been admitted entry into the U.S. since November 2003. New report on the situation for cultural exchange between Cuba and the U.S. (October 5, 2004)

Protest singer Earle blasts US war

The US singer – whose song about so-called American Taliban John Walker Lindh provoked major controversy in the US and resulted in US media calling him “unpatriotic” and even “a traitor” – is set to release an album which criticises the Iraq war (August 17, 2004)

Venue expels Linda Ronstadt after political remarks

The singer was booed and removed from a Las Vegas casino for praising film-maker Michael Moore and his film Fahrenheit 9/11 during a show. Ronstadt called Moore a “great American patriot” and “someone who is spreading the truth” (July 20, 2004)

Rapper Jadakiss Blames Bush for Sept. 11

“Why” – the new single by US rapper Jadakiss, with the words “why did Bush knock down the towers?” – has gotten him the most mainstream attention, and criticism, of his career. MTV and several radio stations are playing the edited version (July 16, 2004)

Hip-Hop Cops: US put Hip-Hop under surveillance

A collection of articles on the latest developments in a nationwide effort to place every aspect of hip-hop culture under state surveillance (July 8, 2004)

Shoot the Singer! Book

‘Shoot the Singer! Music Censorship Today’ is the first worldwide presentation of contemporary cases of music censorship (May 25, 2004)

Explicit Lyrics & Parental Advisory

Tipper Gore, the PMRC, and the infamous black-and-white logo: Background material and news articles (February 1, 2004)

Singer Lee Jones attacks Bush

American singer Rickie Lee Jones has attacked the policies of the Bush administration on her latest record – despite the potential risk to her career. “I usually reflect things totally internally. But I think what is happening in America is so disturbing to me, it becomes internal” (January 7, 2004)

Thomas Mapfumo denied visa

The US based singer was denied entry into Canada on his last tour (December 10, 2003)

Post September 11- Freemuse conference

Listen to the Freemuse organized panel discussion from WOMEX 2003 on how September 11 has affected freedom of musical expression. Visa problems, threats, disrupted tours, changed play-lists, nationalistic concerts and withdrawal of covers are just a few results (November 30, 2003)

Cuba – US row over Grammy visas

The Cuban government has accused the United States of deliberately delaying visas to stop Cuban nominees attending the Latin Grammy Awards in Miami (September 9, 2003)


Video interview with Paulo Jr. from Sepultura (July 11, 2003)

Music during wartime

An extensive collection of links to articles related to how the war on Iraq affected freedom of musical expression – from American country albums being burned to the rise in protest music (June 10, 2003)

Controversial cover

US rapper Paris’ forthcoming “Sonic Jihad” album depicts a jet about to slam into the White House. The intention is to create a dialogue (April 3, 2003)

USA: What if they gave a culture war and nobody came?

Extensive article on the history of music censorship in the U.S., detailing the occasions when judicial and legislative authorities have focused attention on popular music as expression (January 28, 2003)

Clear Channel: September 11 & Corporate Censorship

Corporate censor no. 1, or just the market leader? A collection of articles on Clear Channel – including the debate on the infamous list of ‘potentially offensive songs’, which Clear Channel suggested its 1.300 radio stations not to play following the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US (December 1, 2002)

Dennis Lyxzen / TINC

Video interview with Dennis Lyxzen from The (international) Noise Conspiracy. An outsider’s view on music and censorship in the USA after 9/11(July 11, 2002)

9/11: Is protest music dead?

Music used to be the dominant voice against war. Now it’s easier to shut up and get paid. What’s really going on? Extensive article on 9/11 effects and media concentration, by Jeff Chang (April 16, 2002)

Popular Iranian singer Googoosh kept out of the US

The U.S.-led war on terrorism has had unintended consequences on Iran’s most popular artists, who are finding it almost impossible to practice their craft in the United States (February 10, 2002)

Re-published from


Clear Channel Communications

Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Clear Channel program directors issued a list of “potentially offensive songs” that it suggested stations not play. Many reports referred to the list as a “ban” on the songs, which included all Rage Against The Machine songs, the Notorious B.I.G.’s “Juicy” (which includes the line “Time to get paid, blow up like the World Trade”), John Lennon’s “Imagine,” Metallica’s “Seek and Destroy,” AC/DC’s “Safe in New York,” Bobby Darin’s “Mack the Knife,” Peter, Paul and Mary’s “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” and Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire,” and “The Drifters’ On Broadway.”

Clear Channel spokesperson Pam Taylor objected to the list being called a “ban,” saying, “”This was an effort to help people be sensitive to the unthinkable environment. It’s been somehow turned into some sort of evil attempt to control pop music, and that’s absurd.” According to the New York Times, “a smaller list of questionable songs was originally generated by the corporate office, but an overzealous regional executive began contributing suggestions and circulating the list via e-mail, where it continued to grow.” The program directors at individual stations were able to decide whether to play the listed songs or not.

Also, in 2003, “after the Dixie Chicks criticized President Bush during a London performance … some Clear Channel radio stations pulled the group’s music from their play lists.” According to the New York Times (March 31, 2003), “More unified were the actions of Cumulus Media, which owns 262 stations, and has at least temporarily stopped all 42 of its country stations from playing the Dixie Chicks.”

Re-Published from

Activist, Unplugged from the Matrix. Action for Freedom!

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Posted in Corporate Censorship, Human Rights, Political Censorship

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