Tuesday, August 10, 2004

'OutKast' not allowed in Kansas libraries

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (AP) -- The Kansas attorney general has withheld more than 1,600 compact discs from distribution to state libraries because officials determined the albums promote violence or illegal activity, records show.
The albums removed by Attorney General Phill Kline's office were part of 51,000 discs given to Kansas as part of a nationwide settlement to resolve allegations of price fixing.

The confiscated CDs included recordings by 25 musicians, including rap artists such as OutKast and Notorious B.I.G., rock bands Rage Against the Machine and Stone Temple Pilots, and even older acts such as Lou Reed and the 1980s experimental group Devo.

The list of albums was obtained by The Associated Press last week through an open-records request.

The American Civil Liberties Union said the decision amounted to censorship.
"What he's doing is enforcing his concept of decency on libraries around the state of Kansas, and that's not his business," said Dick Kurtenbach, executive director of the ACLU in Kansas and western Missouri.

Whitney Watson, a spokesman for Kline, said the attorney general would not discuss the screening of the CDs but said the decision to remove some albums was made to ensure state officials were not disseminating objectionable material.

Watson said the office's consumer-protection and antitrust division vetted the list. In some cases, they were familiar enough with the albums to determine if they had questionable content. In others, they looked at Internet databases of lyrics.

"We don't have the manpower to look at every album and every song lyric, but we feel we removed most of the albums that did not mesh with the values of a majority of Kansans," she said.

Kansas is one of 40 states receiving the free CDs for public libraries as part of a 2002 court settlement with the music industry over claims of CD price-fixing.
Attorneys general in several other states also have screened their CDs, often removing controversial artists or albums including explicit lyrics. Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter removed 5,300 discs, or 5 percent of the 107,000 his state was scheduled to receive.

The Kansas Library Association, which advocates for public libraries, said it had no objection to the attorney general's actions.

"This was very similar to what libraries do all the time," said Rosanne Siemens, the group's executive director. "It wasn't so much an issue of taking things out but determining what would be best. They did libraries a big favor by selecting these CDs because there's no way libraries could have said what they wanted."

Will Smith-I, President?

Will Smith may diveinto politics
By Jeannette Walls

Don’t be surprised if Will Smith starts referring to himself as I, Politician.

The “I, Robot” star startled his fans in Sweden with his strong political views. “He was really jokey and laid-back about most things, until it came to politics, then he became very serious and very emphatic,” says our source there. “It became pretty obvious he doesn’t have a high opinion of President Bush.”

“Of course I could be president if I wanted to,” Smith told the newspaper Aftonbladet, according to our translator. “But being president isn’t the kind of job you’d want to have with the way things are today.”

Smith also said that he has toured the world many times before, and says he’s never seen peoples’ opinions of the U.S. this low. “As luck would have it, every four years, the people decide if the president gets to stay in office,” Smith said. “I believe it’s not going to happen.” Smith revealed that he’s going to meet with Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry once he returns to the U.S. and is probably going to campaign for him. “I can be very involved,” he said.

The actor also said that "I, Robot" has a political message about the current administration. “”The main robot Viki says in the film that ‘for the good of the people, some freedoms and some people’s lives have to be sacrificed,’ ” Smith said. When told that the line sounded like it referred to Bush, Smith laughed and said, “Exactly! It’s so beautiful that you get it and know where that line comes from. It’s a comment about what’s going on right now.”

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