Two rappers decided to make a song about “killing 2 police officers who had arrested them earlier.” The song never got delivered to the policemen by the rappers but the song was uploaded to Youtube (but wasn’t done by them, they say). They were arrested and they did time behind bars. Were their constitutional rights violated for freedom of speech? On the surface this seems a lot less complex than what it appears. However, did the rappers have the right to “say what they wanted?” For those who would like to know all the facts here is the link:
From the standpoint of the police, they need to feel secure (as we all do). If this song became popular enough people might actually want to enact the killing of the officers. However, the key component here is the term “might.” It didn’t happen that way. If someone mentions robbing a store (but never carries out his intentions) is he in essence guilty of a crime? This case could be bigger than just lyrics. The plaintiffs say that this song was “never delivered” to the police by them so under legal terms it couldn’t be construed as a threat. However, the rappers were already convicted based on the “threat” of the song. The decision behind this case could have a strong impact on freedom of speech and the constitutional right to say what you want. If the court upholds the concept of threat, then a lot of people may be in jeopardy. White Nationalists may have to “tone down” their rhetoric based on whether their ideology constitutes a threat to those of different races. Everything may be considered a threat to some extent. The biggest issue to me is that these guys mentioned the cops “by name.” I don’t think that was right, but then again I don’t know if there is any law against doing that either. This case seems important, and I want to know the outcome of it. Hopefully you do too. Does freedom of speech actually exist? This case may well determine the answer to this question. Let’s see what the courts say. Thank you for checking out my Daily Thought, and as always I wish you the very best that life has to offer.
Chuck D (from the rap group Public Enemy) in concert with Brett Jolly on bass