A conservative California lawmaker is urging the state to unload its estimated $2 billion investment in the entertainment industry because it produces music that he says glamorizes violence, drug use, gang activity, degradation of women and racism, the San Francisco Examiner has reported.
“The thought of chasing the almighty buck at the expense of decimating our culture is a thought that neither I nor (anyone) should accept,” said Assemblyman Keith Olberg, R-Victorville. “The practice of preferring the profits of the recording industry over the safety of women and children is repulsive.”
Olberg’s bill, called the “California Family Protection Act,” would force California’s retirement system, CalPERS, to unload its stock in entertainment companies and retail outlets — Warner Bros., Disney and Wal-Mart included.
The measure, which gets its first official Assembly hearing on Wednesday, faces opposition from the recording industry, movie studios and free-speech advocates.
“Elvis and the Rolling Stones were once considered threatening and even subversive by some,” said Hilary Rosen, president of the Recording Industry Association of America. “Now, they’re in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. … Elvis, you know, has been immortalized on a U.S. government postage stamp.” Rosen’s comments came at an informational hearing on Olberg’s bill.
The Motion Picture Association of America also opposes the bill because music is such an integral part of movies. A lobbyist for the group said in a letter to Olberg that the bill was so vague that Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues,” which describes a murder, or Frank Sinatra’s version of “Mack the Knife” might fall under the law.
The assemblyman said his bill is consistent with the First Amendment because it wouldn’t ban the production or sale of music, only the state-sponsored investment in those companies.
Olberg’s effort to target the $140 billion portfolio of CalPERS, one of the four richest investors in the world, is patterned after previous attempts to legislate against objectionable practices. Only once has the tactic proven successful: the attempt to divest from South Africa’s now-defunct apartheid regime.
(From San Francisco Examiner Reports)