H’w’d opposes special Sen. culture committee

Brownback proposes Special Committee on American Culture

WASHINGTON — Entertainment industry lobbyists are opposing a proposal by Senate culture warrior Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) to create a special committee to examine U.S. culture.

The Special Committee on American Culture would be chaired by Brownback and would look at the entertainment industry along with cultural issues such as sexual behavior and family structure, according to a Brownback spokesman.

Entertainment lobbyists fear that popular culture will be the committee’s priority target.

Record concern

“Obviously, we are very concerned about a committee that would focus principally on the entertainment industry,” said Jennifer Bendall, senior vice president government relations for the Recording Industry Assn. of America.

Bendall points out that the entertainment industry is already under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission, and President Clinton has endorsed a surgeon general report on the impact of popular culture on youth violence.

All of the proposals have been prompted by a spate of school shootings during the last two years — the most tragic and well known being the April 20 massacre at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo. The incident resulted in the death of 15 people including the suicides of two gun-wielding teenagers.

No sure bet

But Brownback’s hope of establishing a committee is far from a sure thing. Although Senate majority leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) has expressed his support for the culture committee, other Republicans are not as enthusiastic. Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah.) is concerned that establishment of a special committee on culture could lead to the creation of a special committee on guns. Indeed, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) has already made such a proposal.

The Senate is expected to begin mulling over the issue when it returns from its August recess next week.