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Friday, June 23, 2006
Gary Glitter Proof? The Law and Morality of NFL Game Day Music

The National Football League has asked its teams to refrain from playing Gary Glitter's popular anthem "Rock and Roll Part 2" (aka, the "Hey" song) on game day. In case you don't know what song I'm talking about, you can listen to it here. You will surely recognize it; it has to be one of the most regularly played songs during sporting events.

So why has Glitter's song moved onto the NFL's Do Not Play List? It's because he will be spending the next three years in a Vietnamese prison for molesting two young girls, and the NFL doesn't want its games to be associated with a convicted child molester. The league also doesn't want Glitter to earn royalties from the playing of his song.

But let's play Devil's Advocate for a moment, and pretend that we are Gary Glitter fans who regularly attend NFL games, and who find his music to be an essential component of the game experience. What might we argue to keep his song playing? Here are five arguments:

1) Being guilty in Vietnam isn't the same thing as being guilty in the United States.
In fact, Vietnamese courts employ a lower standard of proof for criminal convictions, and feature fewer procedural protections for criminal defendants. So perhaps Glitter might be a free man had those same charges been brought in the United States.

2) Glitter has long been suspected of being a child molestor.
I know what you are thinking: How is that a positive for Glitter? It isn't, but it invites the question of why the NFL would want to ban his song now. It isn't like Glitter's "problems" have been a secret. In fact, back in 1999, a British court convicted him of possession of child pornography, for which he served two months in jail, and he was classified as a sex offender. Maybe more revealing, the Cambodian Government--which somehow tolerates the genocidal Khmer Rouge--couldn't tolerate Glitter. It expelled him in 2002 for alleged sexual misconduct with children, an act which prompted his move to Vietnam. So why should a conviction of this guy in a Vietnamese court suddently make all the difference to the NFL?

3) What About Marv (Albert)?
Marv Albert is the lead play-by-play voice of Westwood One's NFL coverage, calls Monday Night Football games and has called every Super Bowl since 2002. This is true even though, in 1997, he pled guilty to misdemeanor sexual assault charges (after being charged with felony charges of forcible sodomy). Granted, his sexual crime was inflicted upon an adult, but Albert's role with the NFL is clearly larger than Glitter's, and Albert himself is far better known than Glitter. In fact, I had no idea who Glitter was before this story broke, and I never knew or bothered to learn who sung that song. It didn't matter.

4) Axl Rose and Ozzy Osbourne say Hey!
NFL teams routinely play songs by artists who have been in legal trouble. For instance, the song "Welcome to the Jungle" by Guns N' Roses is often played during NFL games. It is sung by Axl Rose, who was once arrested for assaulting a neighbor with a bottle of wine and is widely suspected of using illegal drugs. Or take Ozzy Ozbourne songs, or R. Kelly songs--they too are played during games and are sung by artists who have encountered legal troubles (and Kelly was recently arrested for statutory rape). If we ban Gary Glitter songs, then shouldn't we ban those songs, too? In fact, to be consistent, perhaps only songs sung by "decent" artists, like John Tesh or Kenny G or Amy Grant, should be played (and yes, I too would stop going to NFL games if that happened, but you see the point).

5) Does playing a song during an NFL game even celebrate the artist?
As mentioned above, I had no idea who sung "Rock and Roll Part 2," and didn't even know who Gary Glitter was. Maybe I'm in the minority on those fronts. But regardless, playing a song during a game seems more about celebrating the team or players who made great plays, and getting the crowd into the game, than about the artist who happened to have sung the song.

Taking off my Devil's Advocate cap, however, I actually don't have a problem with the NFL's request. The league doesn't want a convicted child molestor to receive royalties from the playing of songs during NFL games. Also, the league is not forcing teams to do anything; it is simply making a request. But I do see potential inconsistencies that might aggravate the Gary Glitter Fan Club, whose website, as Anonymous notes in the comments section, apparently may infect your computer with spyware if you are using Internet Explorer. So be warned before visting the Worlwide Glorius Glam & Glittering website or get the proper protection (i.e. download Mozilla Firefox) and then visit.


First off, I had no clue who Gary Glitter was.

Secondly, I could care less whether they play the song or not.

Thirdly, if the NFL wants to make a point to clean up who it affiliates with then they have the right to do so. My only question is how many charges does it take for the NFL to remove all affiliates with you? Three, seventeen, thirty-seven?

Anonymous Ron Jumper -- 6/23/2006 3:18 AM  

Every time somebody tries to take a stand, inconsistencies will be spotted. You can draw comparisons with a number of artists (because they basically fail to set any sort of example: drugs, sexual abuse, etc, etc.). But you have to start somewhere and I would venture the nature of the crime as a good point in favour of the NFL.

Last but not least: I just heard the song. Hardly worth fighting for...

Anonymous Luis Cassiano Neves -- 6/23/2006 9:14 AM  

NBA dress code;

Ozzie Guillem sensitivity training;

Gary Glitter music removal.

Boy, do I feel safe.

Anonymous Richard Mock -- 6/23/2006 10:07 AM  

I focused on the rhetoric of agitation & control in my Persuasion class this summer term, and on-the-spot early on plucked this topic out of my head as the one for my class to form its movement around. Many of them have taken it an ran with it, emailing athletic directors of Division I schools, urging them to remove the song from their playlists.

Secondly, I could care less whether they play the song or not.

Realize that Glitter has gotten out of many incidents of child rape by paying off his accusers. His ONLY source of income is royalties from his music. Every time Rock & Roll parts 1 & 2 are played at a sporting event, we are indirectly contributing to his ability to commit heinous crimes.

Anyway, interesting that this has come up now, two days after summer term ended.

Anonymous tim in tampa -- 6/23/2006 10:36 AM  

No idea who Gary Glitter was? Do you guys have VH-1? I think he's mentioned at least once a day on there.

And by the way, the former/current lead singer of Guns n' Roses (depending on your view) is not named after a figure skating jump; it's Axl, not Axel.

I can certainly understand the NFL's desire to not be affiliated in any way with Glitter, but I have to admit that I hope teams don't comply. For better or for worse, that song is solidly in the pantheon of get-the-crowded-pumped songs played at stadiums/arenas. It doesn't work the same for baseball, but when played at the right moment near the end of a basketball or football game, you don't even consciously make the decision to stand-up, clap and say "hey", it just happens, and you like it.

Although I can't say I'm fully on board with the "you suck" addition that seems to be catching on with the kids nowadays.

Blogger RPS -- 6/23/2006 3:45 PM  

Great post, and I'm no Gary Glitter fan. Was that his birth name? I doubt it.

I like the post, but Argument #5 seems neutralized due to the fact that G.G. would make money in the form of royalties. If we don't know who sings the song, then we don't know that his work is being endorsed. But that does not matter if only one person knows that G.G. makes money at our unknowing expense.

Anonymous J. Powers -- 6/23/2006 4:18 PM  

Future Gary Glitter researchers, beware...the Glitterman has struck again. I was tempted by the fruits of the tree that McCann had clicking to the Glitter fan club, some funky spy-ware or something has uploaded to my computer.
Careful or your computer will lie crying in shower, somewhat similar to the trail of victims Gary has left.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 6/23/2006 4:41 PM  

I think the NFL should go a step further and ban all of those Jock Jams. Isn't the game supposed to be exciting enough?

By the way, it's easy to remember the spelling of "Axl Rose" because it's an anagram of "Oral Sex," which had to be intentional.

Blogger Neel Mehta -- 6/23/2006 10:30 PM  

Thanks for these excellent comments.

First off, I'm sorry that Glitter's website apparently may infect your computer. I've edited the post to warn readers about that. The website runs without problems on Mozilla Firefox, but apparently your computer is vulnerable to infection if you run it on Internet Explorer.

Second, I've corrected the spelling of Axl Rose's name (and Neel, that is an interesting way to remember the correct spelling!).

Thanks again to everyone commenting. To me at least, regulating game day music is a surprisingly interesting and debatable issue.

Blogger Michael McCann -- 6/24/2006 4:52 PM  

Son of a gun. I always thought of that as the Doctor Who song.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 8/05/2006 10:50 PM  

Well golly gee!! Does that mean we should think about not buying football tickets cause knucklehead football players can't stay out of trouble with the law? What is happening to our freedoms? If we look hard enough we can find all kinds of things that we shouldn't support in sports! Personally football won't be the same with out the infamous song at Arrowhead stadium and our traditional chant to the opposing team!

Anonymous Anonymous -- 8/09/2006 11:58 PM  

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