Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Helenan S. Robin

Second Advisor

Dr. Michael Pritchard

Third Advisor

Dr. Peter Renstrom

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Students at Western Michigan University were asked via a survey to read lyrics and indicate an offensiveness rating. Lyrics containing vulgar or sexual language or derogatory statements about religion received higher offensive ratings. Actions deemed acceptable in response to offensive lyrics include picketing and boycotting. Prevalent themes identified in the lyrics are antagonism toward religion, sexism and unhealthy sexual relations. Groups cited most frequently as potentially harmed by lyrics are children 5-12, adolescents and women. Respondents were questioned about participation in certain activities and what alternatives to direct censorship are acceptable. Most would prefer to be involved indirectly, for example, signing a petition. Acceptable alternatives would allow purchaser access to lyrics prior to purchase as well as return a release with objectionable lyrics. Background information is found in chapters on more current situations relating to censorship, the philosophy of offense, purity movement and Supreme Court decisions regarding censorship.