Ocean County Superior Court Judge Lawrence R. Jones has made national headlines by ruling that taking an eleven year old minor child to a Pink concert is not bad parenting. In that case, the mother took her daughter to a Pink concert at the Prudential Center on December 11, 2013. Thereafter, the child’s father alleged that it was inappropriate for his daughter to go to the concert and that the mother abused her parental discretion.
In his opinion, Judge Jones first discussed each parent’s constitutional right to make decisions for their children. He then went on to discuss how children with separated parents will have to adjust to two separate sets of rules and that it is important for the parents to “recognize and appreciate the right of each parent to exercise reasonable parental discretion in one’s own home and under one’s own watch.” The backdrop to these decisions, of course, is the best interest of the child.
Judge Jones then went on to detail the importance of exposing children to age-appropriate works of creative art. He then took judicial notice that rock music has grown to become culturally significant in our country. He took further judicial notice that rock music has been historically controversial, citing how early 1950’s Elvis performances were once considered lewd due to his gyrating hips. Judge Jones ultimately found “that notwithstanding the sometimes controversial or suggestive nature of some songs, lyrics, and stage performances, rock music is nonetheless a highly legitimate and culturally significant form of creative artistic expression in American society.”
The opinion also discusses the parental advisory label on albums, which is actually not mandated by the federal government. He reasoned that the label itself is to serve as a warning to parents that the album might be age-inappropriate for some children. However, the label itself does not necessarily mean that the content is inappropriate. Moreover the “law does not prohibit parents from permitting their own children to experience works of the creative arts which contain some verbal profanities.”
Judge Jones then took judicial notice that Pink is a well-known and honored rock artist. He was then able to review the lyrics of the songs played at the December 11, 2013 concert as well as videos of the concert from YouTube. He found that most of the lyrics do not involve profanities at all. He also found that some of her songs, including “Perfect,” provide important messages for adolescents of today. Finally, he determined that there are “many major advanced artistic components of the rock concert beyond simply the song lyrics.” When he interviewed the 11 year, she stated that the most important part of the song was not the lyrics, but the music itself.
Ultimately, Judge Jones found that by the mother permitting her daughter to attend the concert, she allowed her daughter to enjoy the “culturally exciting experience of attending a major rock concert.” As a result, he found that she acted appropriately in permitting the child to attend the concert. He noted the fact that the mother and child enjoyed this important night together was important to the child in her young life. Finally, Judge Jones noted that he understood the father’s concerns to shield his daughter as she approaches her teen years.
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