Resolutions introduced at the SAM Business Meeting, 3 March 2007:

Item One:
The Adoption of a Resolution to be posted on the SAM Website The issue of the use of music as part of psychological torture has surfaced among the musicological community because of a paper presented by Suzanne Cusick at the national meetings of the AMS in Los Angeles in October, 2006. SEM has since adopted a resolution, which is posted on its website, with a link to Cusick’s paper. The Board has voted to consider this issue today through this resolution by having it read and then providing space on the website for the text of the resolution, discussion and comments, with a vote to be taken at some point as yet undecided but certainly in the next few months.

Text of Resolution opposing the Use of Music in Psychological Torture
Whereas, We, the Society for American Music, join the chorus of protest and dissent against the use of torture in military interrogations,

Whereas, we, as scholars and musicians, who devote our lives to sustaining American music, protest the contamination of our culture by the heinous misappropriation of music as part of psychological torture,

Whereas, art has an ethical, in fact spiritual dimension, no matter what style or genre, and its corruption shames us all,

Resolved, we, the Society for American Music condemn the use of music as torture in military interrogations and in particular the debasement of American music in such a fashion.


Item two:
A resolution related to the fact that aliens — a legal term for non-American citizens — can be seized in the United States (and other sovereign territories) and imprisoned without trial for an indefinite length of time if they are labeled "enemy combatants." (The right to a trial and the prohibition of seizure without named cause is called habeas corpus — or "show me the body." Its suspension for aliens comes out of a law called the Military Commissions Act, which was signed by President Bush in October 2006.)

Because SAM has many international members, this affects our academic lives in various negative ways, as discussed below. Thus, the Board of Directors supported the idea of circulating this resolution so that individual members of SAM could sign it. The petition will not be presented as an official statement of SAM as an organization. [1]

If you wish to support this resolution and sign the petition, please send this information to Judith Tick at jtick@verizon.net or by mail to the Department of Music, Northeastern University, Boston 02115 by April 1. I will give this petition to the Center for Constitutional Rights.[2]

Text of Resolution
Whereas habeas corpus is the bedrock principle set out in Article I of our Constitution to protect individuals against indefinite imprisonment without trial,

Whereas the Congress in the Military Commissions Act of 2006 has authorized the Executive Branch to seize at any time and any place and imprison indefinitely any alien characterized as an "enemy combatant,"

Whereas, we, who are members of the Society for American Music, which consists of scholars and musicians who are both citizens and aliens, believe the Military Commissions Act has an intimidating and chilling effect on free discourse, both within our Society and without, and further, that it constrains scholarship and free speech, compromising and harming our cultural and intellectual democracy,

Now, therefore we call upon the Supreme Court to restore the constitutional right of habeas corpus to aliens.


[1] The American Historical Association has a similarly focused resolution on its website.
[2] For “googling”—the case is called “Boumediene v Bush.” The Center for Constitutional Rights is the umbrella organization for the ca. 500 American lawyers doing pro bono representation for detainees being held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.