The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum


Rationale

The the United States Bill of Rights is perhaps the most important sets of freedoms and rights afforded to individuals in the United States. Students are aware of most their personal rights and freedoms. However, many students have not critically evaluated the significance of the Bill of Rights and are unaware that the Bill of Rights only applied to the federal government from 1791 until 1868 (Fourteenth Amendment). The lesson is a hypothetical case in which popular music/artist is used to explore the United States Bill of Rights which is part of the Ohio’s Ninth Grade Citizenship Proficiency Test Outcomes. The use of popular music in this lesson will serve to motivate students while engaging different learning styles, higher order thinking skills, and cooperative learning.

Objectives

 

  1. Using a hypothetical situation, students will identify the rights and freedoms at issue and determine if they are protected by the United States Bill of Rights.
  2. Students will analyize lyrics and video of popular music and determine if the lyrics are in violation of hypothetical laws
  3. Students will recognize the relationship between a law and the United States Constitution.

Audience

United States History/Government students. Grades 11-12

Time Frame

Four to five 50 minute class periods. (Time will vary based on the amount of ‘in class’ group work and discussion periods.)

Materials

CD/tape player; CD/tape of song “Like a Prayer” by Madonna; Copies of lyrics “Like a Prayer” (entire class); VCR/Television; Video tape of “Like a Prayer” video; Copies of hypothetical scenario (entire class); Pencils; Pens; Textbook.

Background

The lesson will be conducted after the students had studied American history from Christopher Columbus (1492) to the ratification of thr Bill of Rights (1791). The lesson can be used as an introduction or culmination activity on the Bill of Rights.

Procedures

PART ONE 

  1. Tell the students that the next lessons will explore the U.S. Constitution/Bill of Rights and determine if a popular song broke hypothetical laws. Explain to the students that the first lesson will be used to develop important background that will be needed for later assignments.
  2. Show students the video “Like a Prayer” with no sound and tell students to focus on the visual images only. After video is over, have students answer in writing: What does the video itself convey to the viewer? what does it mean? Defend your opinion. (Stress that there are no wrong answers.) (You may wish to show the video twice.) After students have had time to write, conduct a class discussion so students can express their opinions.
  3. Distribute copies of the lyrics “Like a Prayer” and listen to the song. Working in small groups, have students analyze the lyrics and determine what is the message and explain your thinking. -Have a class discussion on the students’ interpretation of the lyrics. (To further the discussion, ask students, Why did this video cause some Christian groups to protest when the video was released which caused Pepsi to drop a planned commercial campaign that featured the song?)

PART TWO 

  1. Students should review their notes (written responses) on the video and song, “Like a Prayer.”
  2. Students are to pretend that they are on a jury. They must decided if Madonna would be guilty or not guilty of breaking a law that states, “No person can write, sing, or perform a song that creates a negative image of Christianity.”
  3. Divide class into groups of about eight (8) to simulate a jury. Remind students that a jury must be unanimous in order to return a guilty or not guilty verdict.
  4. After the juries have had time to discuss and decide the case, discuss their results, problems with the case, and views as individuals and as the jury.

PART THREE 

  1. Distribute copies of the hypothetical case and read to the class. (See included form)
  2. Working in small groups, the students will examine the hypothetical case and the Bill of Rights to determine which rights and freedoms are at issue for an appeal. (Students have a copy of the Bill of Rights intheir textbook.) Allow students a work period.

PART FOUR 

  1. Discuss the probable outcomes if the case occurred prior to 1791 and then between 1791-1868.
  2. Present day discussion. Groups will be called upon to state an issue in the case that violated someones rights or freedoms and state what amendment applies to that issue.
  3. After the class has exhausted the possibilities, the students in small groups need to organize their information into an ‘Issues for Appeal’ chart by putting the the issues of appeal with the correct aiiiendments.

Evaluation

 

  1. Written opinion and reasoning of video meaning (no sound).
  2. Written opinion and reasoning of lyrics meaning.
  3. Participation in the jury process.
  4. Paricipation in small group and whole class disscussion.
  5. Small group organization and content on ‘Issues for Appeal’ chart.

Selected Recordings

“Like a Prayer” recorded by Madonna (Like a Prayer, Sire Record Company, 1989); lyrics and music by Madonna Louise Ciccone and Patrick Leonard. Johnny Yuma Music/OrangeJello Music.

Enrichment/Additional Resources

Students can continue to explore the First Amendment’s freedoms by following their favorite or a controversial popular music artist and their work. This type of study can accomplished by keeping a journal or scrapbook. For example, do their actions or lifestyle complement their music? Or are they hypocritical? Has their views changed over time? Has your view of the artist changed over time? How does their music impact your life?

Buckle Down on American Citizenship, Third Edition. Iowa City: Profiles Corporation, 1992.

Conlin, Joseph R. Our Land, Our Time: A History of the United States to 1877. San Diego: Coronado Publishers, 1986.

Friedlander, Paul. Rock and Roll: A Social History. Boulder: Westview Press, 1996.

Contributed by

Christopher Papouras
Euclid, OH

THE BILL OF ROCK AND ROLL RIGHTS: HYPOTHETICAL CASE

On Sunday, a group of one hundred persons gathered on a farm in Massachusetts for their monthly celebration of life. The farm is on the private property of Roger Will (who is one of the group) and is located many miles from any other person’s property. Each member in attendance paid for a ticket to attend and most all planed to dance, sing, and have a good time at the party. The main attraction of the event was a performance by the popular music star ‘Madonna.’

The party goers started to arrive early in the evening to secure a good seat for Madonna’s performance. However, the police secretly slipped into the farm and observed the celebrat}ion under the cover of surrounding trees. The celebration was very peaceful as the audience moved and sang along with the opening gospel act; (Play “Like a Prayer” music video by Madonna and tell the students this is her opening song.) After the opening song, the police rushed in and arrested Madonna and all in attendance for violating the state of Massachusetts Blue Laws. The Blue Laws are old Puritan laws that prohibit non-religious activities on Sundays.

Each party goer was given a bench trial (decided by the judge) and was found guilty under the Massachusetts state law. Under the Blue Laws all persons were sentenced to one day in the stocks or pillory.

After waiting a year in jail, Roger Will was given a jury trial which ended in a hung jury. After waiting another year in jail, a second trial was finally conducted in the Massachusetts courts. In the second trial, he was not permitted to have a lawyer and was consequently found guilty. He was sentenced to banishment and his farm was sold at auction to benefit his favorite charity. 
Madonna was put on trial for violating the state law that prohibits anyone from questioning the Puritan religion. In her first trial, Madonna was found not guilty by a jury of her peers. However, the state found a copy of ‘Like a Prayer’ lyrics after searching Madonna’s house. With the new evidence Madonna was again tired and was also forced to perform the song for the jury. She was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging.

ANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS 

  1. What U.S. Constitutional grounds do the party-goers have for appealing their convictions?
  2. What U.S. Constitutional grounds does Roger Will have for appealing his conviction?
  3. What U.S. Constitutional grounds does Madonna have for appealing her conviction?

BILL OF ROCK & ROLL RIGHTS: HYPOTHETICAL CASE TEACHER GUIDE

 

  • Amendment will be listed next to the text where applicable
  • Note that the amendments are listed below, but the clause can be different.
  • The state of Massachusetts will the Tenth Amendment Police Powers Clause.
  • Encourage students to be creative and the event may violate several amendments or several clauses of the same amendment

On Sunday, a group of one hundred persons gathered on a farm in Massachusetts for their monthly celebration of life. The farm is on the private property of Roger Will (who is one of the group) and is located many miles from any other person’s property. Each member in attendance paid for a ticket to attend and most all planed to dance, sing, and have a good time at the party. The main attraction of the event was a performance by the popular music star ‘Madonna’. (#1 for nearly all first paragraph)

The party goers started to arrive early in the evening to secure a good seat for Madonna’s performance. However, the police secretly slipped into the farm and observed the celebration under the cover of surrounding trees(#4,#9). The celebration was very peaceful as the audience moved and sang along with the opening gospel act(#1). (Play “Like a Prayer” music video by Madonna and tell the students this is her opening song.) After the opening song, the police rushed in and arrested Madonna and all in attendance for violating the state of Massachusetts Blue Laws(#1,#4,*9). The Blue Laws are old Puritan laws that prohibit non-religious activities on Sundays. Each party goer was given a bench trial (#5,#6) (decided by the judge) and was found guilty under the Massachusetts state law. Under the Blue Laws all persons were sentenced to one day in the stocks or pillory(#5,#8).

After waiting a year in jail(#6), Roger Will was given a jury trial which ended in a hung jury. After waiting another year in jail(*6), a second trial was finally conducted in the Massachusetts courts. In the second trial, he was not permitted to have a lawyer~ and was consequently found guilty(#1,#5). He was sentenced to banishment(#8) and his farm was sold at auction to benefit his favorite charity(#5,#8).

Madonna was put on trial for violating the state law that prohibits anyone from questioning the Puritan religion(#1). In her first trial, Madonna was found not guilty by a jury of her peers. However, the state found a copy of ‘Like a Prayer’ lyrics after searching Madonna’s house(#4). With the new evidence Madonna was again tired~ and was also forced to perform the song for the jury(#5). She was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging (#5,#8).