Sunday, February 17, 2013

How to Argue Like a Boss with Frank Zappa

"We're talking about words - why are people afraid of words?" - Frank Zappa

Amanda Warren
Activist Post

In one of the best '80s episodes of CNN's Crossfire, we get a good picture of two ways to argue. What appears to start as an open forum about whether the government should censor music turns into three conservatives attacking a fourth conservative - the late Frank Zappa.

Multiple times, they get him off the subject of the Constitution, and into the intentions of the founding fathers, calling his music garbage and filth the whole time. They use "the children" as the cornerstone. Frank doesn't take the bait. He stays on the subject of words.



Why was the subject up for debate?


During this time period, bills were surfacing that called for government censorship boards and there were Senate hearings. Zappa even testified in some of those hearings battling Tipper Gore and her Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) made up of political wives who sought censorship of satanic and sexual lyrics. As a result of PMRC pressure, albums were labeled with the various forms of the "Parental Advisory" sticker beginning in the late '80s. Zappa predicted that there would be court tie-ups, major fines, and that the stickers would be useless.

At times in the Crossfire episode he calls out the opponents: "I love it when you froth like that." When they tried to argue that dirty song lyrics were a matter of national defense Frank said:
The biggest threat toward America today is not communism, it's moving America towards a fascist theocracy.
The opponents, particularly Washington Times commentator Jon Lofton, tried to argue that dirty music was leading to behavioral crime and hopelessness. Zappa wanted youth to find hope by registering to vote and running for something. That suggestion was scoffed.

On his album covers Zappa called for people to register to vote, even having register booths at his concerts. He opposed the War on Drugs, believing that the crime lies in a person's actions towards another, and that the US Treasury would benefit from decriminalization. "You own the government–it doesn't own you," he once said.

They talk over him a lot, but he remains calm and unfortunately never gets to finish his last point. He reiterates: we're not talking about advocacy, we're talking about words. Basically, it would be better to allow everything, without fear, with functioning brains and free choice, rather than install a government board that forbids certain words from our ears. He didn't want to see the U.S. government moving towards fascism.

If you want to go right for the kill-zone low blow in an argument, do what Dave Barry's satirical "How to Win an Argument" says - compare your opponent to Adolf Hitler. Character attacking is number one if you find yourself "spectacularly wrong." In this case, they actually did just that and called him an anarchist for taking a non-invasive view.

Read other articles by Amanda Warren Here


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19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yeah, he was a cia co-intel agent, in on creating the whole hippie tune-out thing. Of course he knows how to argue.

HereAmI said...

It seems a trifle ironic that a nation which slaughtered tens of thousands of VC for no obvious reason, and maimed hundreds of thousands of others, plus putting 50,000 of its own men to the sword, and poisoning the children of generations yet unborn with Agent Orange, and burnt the backs off men women and children with napalm, can point the finger at a man who plays a guitar for a living.
Or have I missed something here.

Anonymous said...

Wow... I never knew Frank Zappa was so literate.... He was excellent... New respect for the man...

stonemaster said...

God Bless Frank Zappa he was a True American...

Anonymous said...

CIA co-intel agent huh. Where did you hear that?

Anonymous said...

Where Zappa was wrong was saying we are in danger of becoming a "Faschist theocracy." Way wrong, Faschist yes theocracy no. The religion of America is Corporate. We have become a faschist corpocracy. Religion is a non issue in national political objectives.

FunCoTech said...

That comment that Zappa was co intel is So laughable - sad that such idiocy gets posted.

Ex Norwegian Roger said...

I wouldn't say Zappa was a CIA co-intel agent...it's a little more complicated than that. True, he was heavily involved in the controlled L.A. hippie scene in the 60s, hanging around and working with questionable people like Vito Paulekas and Carl Franzoni. I view that whole thing as a quasi organic creation. It's not 100% staged as things are nowadays. Zappa was a huge critic of the hippies and probably understood the bigger picture but at the same time, that was his audience! And of course, by the 70s you can argue his music became more dumbed down as Zappa was also a shrewd business man and knew Americans does not wanna hear smart digs like "America Drinks & Goes Home" or "Brown Shoes Don't Make It" but they'll show up to concerts and buy records of "Titties & Beer" and "Jewish Princess."

Ayelyah said...

“The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it's profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater.”
― Frank Zappa

Anonymous said...

Just 27 years have passed and it seem so unreal in comparison with today's messages.
What would they have said about Lady Gaga , Nicki Minaj and others performing their extraordinary weird and twisted performances ?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for reviving this. Very entertaining.

It's a really scary thing that John Lofton is a journalist. He had absolutely no understanding of the topic. All he wanted to do was rail on Frank Zappa, as if Zappa was responsible for everything wrong with popular music. Did he seriously think that "We're Only in it For the Money" should be censored? Ye gods. And he called Zappa an idiot. Ha! I wonder if he is still so out of touch with reality.

I just looked him up. He is.

wishbone said...

ZAPPA was a brilliant maker of music, zappa was the ultimate jester, he took the piss out of everyone, a fantastic sense of humour. as for being a CIA AGENT i dont think so, he was far too intelligent to be one of those DICK-HEADS, CIA AGENTS have no imagination, no honour, no brains, no poetry, no soul. they just SUCK. (hope they are reading this) i currently have 16 of zappa's albums and still collecting.

Anonymous said...

He was the music messiah!

Anonymous said...

This is funny: "Incest" is only 20 years old in the United States. Man! We're talking about real historians, here. ... And, the the bit about the "Founding Fathers" and what they had in mind. The land-owning, wealthy federalist founding fathers, most of them, hardly had the peoples' interests in mind. They were frightened of the masses, but depended on them for the Revolution. So, they had to compromise. They also decided to remove the bit about "slavery" from the Declaration of Independence that Thomas Jefferson composed. .... Zappa predicted well about fascism in America. And given the amount of loveless, warring God (which has nothing to the Jesus in the New Testament who talked about loving your neighbor, and condemned the wealthy) that neo-con evangelical profess to worship, we are close to theological type of fascism.

Fred Milton said...

Frank Zappa is one of my few remaining culture heroes. His stands are truly inspiring to me in my own work against censorship and the commercialization of Public Radio, especially Wisconsin Public Radio. Frank liked public media and worked with it in L.A.

Fred Milton said...

Fascist theocracy doesn't mean a Christian one... in this country our fascists give allegiance to Israel.

Anonymous said...

Incest like child pedophilia and other gory issues that these type of men don't want to address at that time are right in our faces today. So is Fascism just ask Barry Soetero.

slvrbull75 said...

The part about fascist theocracy was became true on the first part, but not the latter. Things were different then, back in the early 80s the Bible Belt uptight types were much stronger politically, I remember I was there. Things are a lot different now, as generations have passed and social mores have evolved considerably under the tutelege of our leaders in DC, Wall Street, Hollywood, and 100% owned and controlled propaganda media, who have no honor or morals at all to speak of. Frank Zappa was a brilliant composer, musician, and much more. He died of cancer. Biographical tidbit: his father worked for the govt/military industrial complex developing chemical weapons. This could have influenced his worldview considerably.

Anonymous said...

Read Dave MacGowan's "The Strange LC" (Laurel Canyon) in his Center for an Informed America.

Real eye-opener it is, aside from being extremely well-written and very droll

Enjoy and learn!

steve

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