Don’t stop the music: Campaign songs tell candidates’ story
By ELANA SCHOR
Monday, March 11
When Elizabeth Warren took the stage to launch her presidential run to the strains of Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5,” the song seemed to sum up the spirit of a candidacy built on giving workers a fairer shake.
Only days earlier, fellow Democrat Kamala Harris had exited her own campaign kickoff rally with an equally fitting musical choice of “My Shot,” an anthem of ambition for political change from the hit musical “Hamilton.” The song’s chorus, delivered by a young Alexander Hamilton, underscored Harris’ confident emergence as a top-tier White House contender: “I’m just like my country, I’m young, scrappy and hungry, and I’m not throwing away my shot.”
Presidential candidates have used thematic songs to great effect in recent decades.
Bill Clinton’s upstart victory remains linked in the popular imagination with Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop (Thinking About Tomorrow).” Barack Obama showed off his musical fluency by picking multiple go-to songs in genres from hip-hop to rock to Motown.
But using campaign songs to help connect with voters can cause trouble for presidential hopefuls if musicians object to the use of their works, as Warren could be finding out.
“We did not approve the request, and we do not approve requests like this of (a) political nature,” Parton’s manager, Danny Nozell, told The Associated Press by email when asked about the Massachusetts senator’s use of “9 to 5.”
Nozell, CEO of CTK Management, did not respond to a question about whether Parton’s team might register any formal complaint about Warren’s use of the song, which she played during a Friday town hall meeting in New York City.
If Parton escalates the matter, there’s no shortage of precedent: The late Tom Petty reportedly sent a cease-and-desist letter to Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., over the use of his song “American Girl” in her 2011 campaign, and former President George W. Bush got a similar letter from Petty over his choice of the singer’s “I Won’t Back Down” during the 2000 campaign.
President Donald Trump has faced his own rejection from popular artists after taking office, most recently from Rihanna. She tweeted in November that “not for much longer” would her music be permitted to play at Trump rallies, and soon after her representatives reportedly sent their own cease-and-desist request.
The Warren campaign declined to comment on Nozell’s response regarding its use of “9 to 5.”
Guidelines for the use of campaign songs from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers state that “it may be easier for” campaigns to be licensed through performing rights organizations such as ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC to ensure that the use of songs at multiple large venues fully adheres to copyright statutes.
“Because licenses for venues such as convention centers and hotels generally exclude rights to perform music at events organized by a third party, political campaigns need their own ASCAP license to use the works in its repertory,” the organization states.
The Recording Industry Association of America, however, notes in its own guidance that licensing to use a specific song “can be obtained by either the campaign or the venue.”
When campaign songs catch on, the relationship between candidates and their favorite tunes can prove fruitful.
One of Obama’s favorites, Stevie Wonder’s “Signed Sealed Delivered I’m Yours,” was performed live at the 2008 Democratic National Convention as well as during one of Obama’s inaugural balls. In 2009, Obama revealed more about the deeper relevance of Wonder’s music to his relationship with wife, Michelle.
“I think it’s fair to say that had I not been a Stevie Wonder fan, Michelle might not have dated me,” Obama said during remarks honoring Wonder at the White House. “The fact that we agreed on Stevie was part of the essence of our courtship.”
It’s still early in the 2020 Democratic primary, giving candidates plenty of time to develop their campaign playlists. But the early choices by Warren and Harris indicate that this year’s hopefuls are aware of the keen importance of music in building a candidate’s public persona.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders concluded his own campaign launch with “Power to the People.”
Harris’ use of “My Shot” isn’t even her first public selection of a favorite tune. The California senator is an avid music fan — she recorded a “mood mix” for “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” this year — and has also used “California Love” by Dr. Dre and Tupac Shakur as a walk-on song for public events.
The rap-infused remix of “My Shot” first appeared on a playlist Harris created in 2017 for African-American Music Appreciation Month before she used it as exit music for her campaign kickoff rally in January.
No matter how a campaign obtains its license, the use of a song is unlikely to prove problematic unless the artist behind the work raises an objection. A representative from Sunshine Sachs, publicists for “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, said they are “happy” that Harris enjoyed “My Shot.”
And Miranda and Parton aren’t the only artists popping up early on the presidential campaign trail. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar entered her White House kickoff rally last month to “The Bullpen” by Dessa Wander, an eclectic artist from Klobuchar’s home state.
The song appeared apt for an election featuring five high-profile female candidates.
“I hope that your battery’s charged, ‘cause I found this here ladder,” sings Wander, who uses the stage name Dessa. “Now your ceilings don’t matter. Check me out, now I got glass floors.”
Associated Press writer Juana Summers in Washington contributed to this report.
Allred: Tape appears to show R. Kelly sexually abusing girls
By STEPHEN R. GROVES
Monday, March 11
NEW YORK (AP) — A man who said he was cleaning out an old videotape collection found what he thought was a recording of R&B singer R. Kelly in concert, but instead turned out to show a man who appeared to be Kelly sexually abusing girls, he and his attorney said Sunday.
The man then turned the tape over to law enforcement, according to attorney Gloria Allred. She and her client, Gary Dennis, would not discuss the specifics of the tape during a news conference in New York. But Allred said it appears to show a separate incident from the 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse that Kelly faces in Chicago, though she acknowledged she could not be “100 percent certain” that the man in the tape is Kelly.
Steve Greenberg, an attorney for Kelly, noted that lack of certainty.
“The doubt here is self-evident, with reporting that the man on the tape kinda, sorta looks like R. Kelly,” Greenberg said Sunday in an email. “That doesn’t make it him. It is not him.”
The lawyer also said Kelly “denies that he is on any tape with underaged girls.”
“It is obviously now just open season on R. Kelly,” Greenberg said.
Dennis, an assistant at a nursing home, said he was cleaning out a box of old VHS tapes in his Pennsylvania home recently when he found the footage, on a tape that was labeled with Kelly’s name. Dennis said he has never met Kelly and doesn’t know how the tape came to be in his possession. He said that because the tape also has a sports game on it, he believes it may have come from a friend.
“To my shock and surprise, R. Kelly appeared to be on the tape, but not in concert,” Dennis said. “Instead he was sexually abusing underaged African-American girls.”
“I was disgusted and horrified when I saw that,” Dennis said.
Allred said they assume the girls in the video were underage because they didn’t appear to have developed.
The charges Kelly faces in Chicago are in connection to three girls and one woman. Prosecutors have said they have video of Kelly sexually abusing one of the girls.
Kelly has been trailed for decades by allegations that he victimized women and girls, and he was acquitted of child pornography charges in 2008 related to a tape that prosecutors said showed him having sex with a girl as young as 13. He and his attorneys have repeatedly denied allegations of sexual misconduct, and he has pleaded not guilty to the charges filed last month in Chicago. In an interview that aired Wednesday and Thursday on “CBS This Morning,” Kelly pleaded with viewers to believe that he never had sex with anyone under age 17 and never held anyone against their will.
Allred, who represents women who say they were abused by Kelly, said the tape from Dennis was turned over to law enforcement in the federal Eastern District of New York. She didn’t say why it went to that venue. A representative for the office declined to comment.
Allred encouraged anyone who was in possession of similar tapes to come forward, either to her or to law enforcement.
A Chicago police spokesman referred questions about Allred’s news conference to the prosecutors handling the case. That office did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Associated Press writer Corey Williams contributed to this story from Detroit.
Check out the AP’s complete coverage of the investigations into R. Kelly.
#MeToo whistleblowing is upending A century-old legal precedent in US demanding loyalty to the boss
March 5, 2019
Author: Elizabeth C. Tippett, Associate Professor, School of Law, University of Oregon
Disclosure statement: Elizabeth C. Tippett does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Partners: University of Oregon provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
When was the last time you agreed to keep a secret?
Perhaps it was a personal confidence shared by a close family member or friend. Or it might have been in a contract with your employer to safeguard confidential information. Either way, you probably felt a strong sense of obligation to keep that secret.
At least when it comes to the workplace, that’s no accident. In the United States, the idea that workers owe their employers a duty of loyalty goes back more than 100 years. It is deeply ingrained in legal rules and American culture.
But it has been fraying, most recently in the form of former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s damning congressional testimony against the president.
This trend was also on full display when the #MeToo movement went viral in 2017. #MeToo was, of course, about sexual harassment and assault. But it was also a form of mass whistleblowing. The movement signaled victims’ willingness – at an unprecedented scale – to defy promises of secrecy to their employers in service of a larger truth by revealing their experiences of workplace harassment.
While researching a book on the duty of loyalty, I realized that the #MeToo movement isn’t merely a rift in the ordinary order of workplace relationships in the United States. It is part a larger legal and cultural shift that has been in the works for decades.
The duty of loyalty is the idea that you “cannot bite the hand that feeds you and insist on staying for future banquets,” as an American labor arbitrator wrote in 1972.
It’s a bedrock principle that courts apply to employment disputes, even if you didn’t sign a contract promising to keep an employer’s secrets.
The duty of loyalty is why employers can demand that you sign a confidentiality agreement at the start of employment. It’s why workers can’t download their employer’s trade secrets on a thumb drive and use it in their new job. And why companies are able to persuade judges to enforce noncompete agreements.
University of Iowa Law Professor Lea Vandervelde recounts cases from the late 1800s, when business owners persuaded courts that female workers should be ‘faithful’ to their employer.
This duty is also why American courts were slow to protect whistleblowers for disclosing information that betrayed their employer but protected the public interest. As recently as the 1980s, most state courts did not recognize an employee’s right to protest or expose illegal or harmful conduct.
In a 1982 case in Texas, a nursing home fired a nurse’s aid who complained when her boss refused to call a doctor for a patient suffering a stroke. Unmoved by the nurse’s efforts to save the patient, the court dismissed the employee’s case.
A shift toward protecting whistleblowers
In recent decades, however, courts and lawmakers in the United States have shifted away from prioritizing an employer’s right to loyalty and toward reaping the public benefits of whistleblowers.
As legal scholar Richard Moberly documented, the U.S. Supreme Court has been remarkably consistent in recent decades in protecting private sector whistleblowers. Congress has moved in the same direction, taking on whistleblower protections in major federal legislation, including the Affordable Care Act and the Dodd-Frank financial reform statute.
Indeed, the righteousness of whistleblowers has become a rare matter of bipartisan consensus. In 2017, every lawmaker in both the House and Senate voted in favor of a law expanding whistleblower protections for federal employees.
Over the last 10 years, even social media posts have been recognized as a form of whistleblowing. In 2011, the National Labor Relations Board, which regulates unionization and collective bargaining in the United States, declared that social media posts are legally protected if their aim is to mobilize others to address workplace issues.
To its credit, the labor relations board realized that many important workplace discussions now happen over social media.
#MeToo crosses the Rubicon
The #MeToo movement did not represent a tidal wave of recent harassment – many of the revelations were years old. What made it historic was the way so many women were willing to publicly expose their employer and thus cross the Rubicon to whistleblower status.
It was a combination of online and offline whistleblowing. A number of the women who disclosed information to the media against Harvey Weinstein and other prominent men did so in defiance of contracts they signed promising secrecy. The millions of others who posted on social media may have also theoretically risked breach of contract claims – although Title VII of the Civil Rights Act offers a form of whistleblower protection.
The political response to #MeToo has also tended to treat it as a whistleblower story. Few of the enacted state laws or proposed federal laws alter existing rules regarding workplace harassment. Instead, these bills have primarily sought to make it harder for U.S. employers to keep harassment secret.
The end of loyalty?
Employees are increasingly willing to defy employer demands for secrecy involving immoral, illegal or harmful conduct. And when they do speak up, lawmakers and courts are increasingly willing to back them up.
The #MeToo movement might be the first mass whistleblower event. But it’s probably not the last, which means we should expect the duty of loyalty to fall further from the legal pedestal on which it once stood.
#StopThisShame, #GirlsAtDhaba, #WhyLoiter and more: women’s fight against sexual harassment didn’t start with #MeToo
March 7, 2019
Author: Alka Kurian, Senior Lecturer, School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, University of Washington, Bothell
Disclosure statement: Alka Kurian is affiliated with: University of Washington Bothell Tasveer, a Seattle-based South Asian film, literature and arts non-profit
Just two months after allegations of sexual abuse against Hollywood film mogul Harvey Weinstein came to light in a 2017 New York Times article, women in at least 85 countries began using the the hashtag #MeToo, to speak against sexual harassment.
In China, sexual misconduct accusations led to the firing of a professor at a top university and the resignation of a high-profile Buddhist monk. In Egypt, it was a highly regarded leader of the Arab Spring who was forced to resign. And in India, sexual misconduct accusations caused a major uproar in Bollywood and forced the resignation of a leading politician and minister.
While the success of #MeToo testifies to the power of social media in putting the spotlight on the culture of misogyny across the world, as a scholar who studies feminism, I know it’s not the first movement of its kind.
Women in countries such as India, Pakistan and others have long organized successful campaigns against sexual harassment.
Campaigns in India
In 2009 Indian women organized a successful campaign called #PinkChaddi, or “pink underwear,” against the culture of moral policing by Sriram Sene, a right-wing group that attacked young women in bars and young unmarried couples in public spaces on Valentine’s day.
Through a Facebook campaign, Nisha Susan, an employee of India’s leading investigative political magazine Tehelka invited women to send this right-wing group pink underwear on Valentine’s Day. The campaign caught women’s attention across the country and resulted in more than 2,000 women sending pink underwear to the group.
In another campaign called #PinjraTod: Break the Locks, female students in Delhi came together in 2015 to protest sexist curfew rules in university halls. The students said the rules were used to stifle the freedom of women as the only way to deal with the culture of sexual violence.
At the time, the campaign forced university authorities to relax some of the rules. And today, it has grown into a larger movement across India’s major cities for bringing in meaningful policies against sexual harassment.
The biggest campaign came in 2012, in the aftermath of the gang rape and murder of the 23-year-old medical student Jyoti Singh on the streets of Delhi. The brutal rape triggered an unprecedented nationwide outcry, mostly by middle-class India. The protests forced the government to change its law against rape. They also led to enhanced penalties for offenders and criminalization of stalking, voyeurism and acid attacks on women.
Central to this protest was the role played by social media in urban India where women had long been frustrated by corruption and rising crimes. Since early 2000s, young tech-savvy millennial women had been agitating online against the culture of sexual violence in the country. The 2012 incident became a flashpoint.
While mainstream media coverage of the rape intensified the movement, it was digital activism that moved people from online protests to street demonstrations. Text messages, WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter hashtags such as #Nirbhaya and #StopThisShame were used to express a collective rage and mobilize people.
Campaigns in Pakistan
Similarly, in neighboring Pakistan, women have been fighting to stop sexual harassment. The 2009 anti-sexual harassment bill drafted by AASHA, the Alliance Against Sexual Harassment is one of the earliest such examples.
Another such campaign #GirlsAtDhaba, launched in 2015 by a group of feminists, called on women to be more visible in public spaces. It invited Pakistani women to post their pictures having tea at roadside tea stalls.
The #GirlsAtDhaba campaign was inspired by the #WhyLoiter campaign in India, that advocates for women’s right to be on the streets of India for pleasure. Both these movements challenged the domination of public spaces by men, which often results in women’s increased sexual harassment.
Similar digital campaigns against sexual harassment took place in many other emerging economies before #MeToo.
In Latin America, women led powerful movements such as #MeuAmigoSecreto and #MeoQueridoProfessor against everyday sexism at home and in public places, including universities.
In China, a 25-year-old woman Li Maizi was arrested in 2015 for distributing pamphlets on sexual harassment in urban public transport, prompting a global social media outcry.
In the Middle East, since the 2011 Arab Spring, women have used personal blogs to protest the social and political policing of gender. Examples include Tunisian Amina Shoui’s uploading of pictures of her topless body inscribed by “We Don’t Need Your Di-mocracy.” She deliberately parsed the word democracy to protest against the “mock” democracy and also to indicate that she was prepared to “die.”
The issues that remain
Despite the success of many of these campaigns, there are many complex issues that need to be addressed.
For example, media reports from India show that women from the lower castes continue to face sexual assault, often violent, for daring to refuse sexual advances of upper-caste men.
In Pakistan, women have faced serious backlash over public accusations of sexual harassment. A leading pop star Meena Shafi and the two-time Oscar-winning filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid faced abusive online trolling when they tweeted about sexual harassment.
A stigma around rape and a sexist legal system often discourages most women in Pakistan from calling out their sexual abusers.
Recognizing global campaigns
In projecting #MeToo as a global phenomenon, the international media often implies that it was the West that helped mobilize women around sexual violence and gave it a name.
This belief reinforces what Nigerian-American writer Teju Cole has referred to, in a different context, as the “white-savior industrial complex” – a colonial mindset that does not acknowledge to this day the role played by Western dominance in reinforcing women’s subordination in the non-Western world.
Further, it obscures a large number of anti-sexism movements that have long been led by women in different parts of the world.
As Ghanaian writer and women’s rights activist Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah says: Rather than a movement, #MeToo is only a moment – albeit an important one – which has a long way to go.