The wife of Republican vice presidential candidate Dick Cheney appeared before a Senate committee today, offering testimony supportive of a recently released Federal Trade Commission study indicating that the entertainment industry is purposefully targeting children with violent, sexual and other inappropriate content.
Lynne Cheney, former head of the National Endowment for the Humanities, specifically criticized rapper Marshall Mathers — popularly known as the artist “Eminem” — before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation because of his promotion of “violence of the most degrading kind against women” in his song lyrics.
Addressing Mathers’ lyrics and music, Cheney said, “Eminem is not the first rapper to revel in violent misogyny, but he has taken hatred of women and depictions of degrading and violating them” to new levels.
So violent and degrading are the lyrics to his songs, Cheney said, that they have compelled her to send a letter “to Michele Hooper and Marie-Josee Kravis, the two female members of the board of Seagram, whose company, Interscope, produces and distributes Eminem.”
“I fully understand your duty to shareholders,” Cheney wrote, “but can that duty be defined in purely economic terms? Aren’t many of your shareholders women, who are demeaned by some of the music you distribute? Aren’t many of them parents, who shudder at the debased and violent culture that Seagram is helping create?”
Cheney said in her letters she noted “that the time has long passed when we can shrug off violence in the entertainment industry by saying that it has no effect, by saying it’s just coincidence that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the murderers of Columbine High, were fans of the shock rocker, Marilyn Manson, also distributed by Seagram.”
Though “opposed” to government regulation of the entertainment industry, Cheney said such acts like Eminem “ironically” threaten First Amendment freedoms because Americans believe such materials are “so objectionable that more … good citizens find appealing the idea that government regulation should remove entertainment industry products from the public square.”
For many years, Cheney said, “we have talked about this problem at a high level. With this latest outrage [the FTC report], it seems to me the time has come to get very specific, to name names, to say exactly what is wrong, and to ask individuals to be accountable.”
Particularly offensive, Cheney said, were Eminem’s lyrics in a song titled “Kill You,” where the artist begins by describing the satisfaction of raping and murdering his mother and then goes on to imagine the joys of murdering any woman he might come across. “Wives, nuns, sluts,” whoever “the bitches” might be, he will kill them slowly, leaving enough air in their lungs so their screaming will be prolonged. He will paint the forest with their blood. “I got the machete from O.J.,” he shouts.
In a separate statement released by the Bush-Cheney campaign, Cheney said, “[Entertainment industry violence] debases and degrades the culture our children are growing up in, and the leaders of the entertainment industry have to face up to that and understand their responsibilities.”
Cheney was chairperson of the National Endowment for the Humanities from 1986-1992, where she was a national spokesman for education reform. As a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute from 1993 to the present, she has written and spoken about the importance of teaching the basics, particularly in reading and mathematics instruction in elementary grades.
A spokesperson for Mrs. Cheney told WorldNetDaily she was “tied up” in Washington, D.C., following her testimony this morning and would be unavailable for comment.