On March 28, 1986, the legendary Frank Zappa sat down with Tom Braden (left), Robert Novak (right), and NY Times columnist John Lofton to discuss censorship and rock & roll on Crossfire. Zappa had just testified before congress, speaking out against government censorship on behalf of artists everywhere and now, well, he had to go head to head with a crazy, irrational zealot from the NY Times. I was only eight years old when this issue ripped across the nation, but watching Mr. Zappa in action - calmly keeping his cool amid a flurry of attacks against his music and overall character as a human being, while thoughtfully and eloquently presenting his viewpoint - makes it clear why Frank Zappa is an icon and so much more than just a musician.
The video is 21 minutes long, but very worth watching. For one thing, you can watch in amazement at how classified information-leaker Robert Novak looks just as old and evil 20 years ago as he does today, but perhaps a more serious reason is that Zappa makes some very poignant remarks about America that seem to have come dangerously close to realization in the 20 years since this show aired.
"The biggest threat to America today is not communism, it's moving America towards a Fascist Theocracy," Zappa said during the course of the show. While "Fascist" might be slightly over the top, many would argue that the current administration seems to be intent on dissolving the lines between church and state. When pressed for an example, Zappa continued (before getting cut off by Mr. Lofton), "[an example of a fascist theocracy is] when you have a government that prefers a certain moral code derived from a certain religion, and that moral code turns into legislation to suit one certain religious point of view."
Check it out for yourself below. And damn, YouTube rules.