We have heard the lyrics of the rap group 2 Live Crew's album, "As Nasty as They Wanna Be," and they are indeed disgusting, appalling and, yes, even obscene. But obscene or not, we reject the idea that anyone, anywhere, should be prosecuted and convicted for writing songs, singing songs, selling records -- or doing anything else that falls within the ambit of the freedom to speak or perform.
This week in Florida, a record store owner was convicted, and faces a jail term, for selling 2 Live Crew's records. Obscenity aside, the way this case has been handled from the beginning strongly suggests that Florida authorities have singled out this particular group and record stores that sell its albums for selective prosecution.
Charles Freeman, the black record store owner who was convicted of obscenity, maintained that the all-white jury "doesn't represent my community." The implication -- that black community standards of obscenity are different from those among whites -- is questionable, but it is also beside the point.