Counter ‘Revolution’

FCC Dubs Feminist Lyrics ‘Patently Offensive’

But Jo-Ann Estella, principal of the Board of Education's Rosewood High School on Riker's Island, where Jones has made several appearances, stresses that Jones's June 21 invitation there still stands. "When Sarah Jones came in, she performed, and the girls were spellbound, as was the staff. Everything that she spoke to in her poetry was positive and resonated with a lot of our young ladies," says the principal.

A Web site devoted exclusively to mobilizing around the song is going up this week. Jones has support from the likes of Danny Hoch and Gloria Steinem, and she is speaking with First Amendment lawyers about pursuing a case.

But music industry veterans say the fight against the government may be uphill. The appointment of Colin Powell's son, Michael Powell, as chair of the FCC, they argue, has sparked an unprecedented indecency crackdown. The FCC's Winston would not provide figures for complaint and investigation rates, but he volunteered, "There's been no new shift, no new program, no new position, of the FCC." The enforcement bureau Web site shows 29 actions in 2000 and 2001 but gives no earlier data.

Certain commissioners have publicly deplored the agency's history of relative leniency. Calling for stricter on-air decency standards, commissioner Susan Ness this April exhorted stations to monitor their programming more closely and broadcast "in a manner that celebrates rather than debases humankind."

For Hunter College student Veronica De La Rosa, Jones's song does just that. "Sometimes we listen but we don't actually hear. . . . Bringing out the famous rappers and their lyrics allowed me to see that they are viewing women as sex objects," she writes in a class essay. "Jones tells us women that we don't have to allow these lyrics to be true, because 'Your revolution will not happen between these thighs.' "

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