Killer Mike, Chance the Rapper, Meek Mill to Supreme Court: Pittsburgh rapper's lyrics are not 'a true threat of violence'

the watchman

Former Staff
Jul 2011
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#1
After their arrest, they wrote and recorded a song titled, "F*** the Police," seen as a homage to the N.W.A. 1988 rap song "F*** tha Police." Knox and Beasley's song, posted on Facebook and YouTube, included the names of the two Pittsburgh officers who arrested them with lyrics like, "I'ma jam this rusty knife all in his guts and chop his feet" and "Well your shift over at three and I'm gonna f*** up where you sleep."
The song ended, "Let's kill these cops cuz they don't do us no good."
https://www.cnn.com/2019/03/07/politics/supreme-court-first-amendment-rappers/index.html

on the one hand, it's a little jarring to see a case like this considering we have a president and his political allies engaging in obstruction of justice in plain sight. Which includes, at least arguably, implied threats towards Mueller and the FBI as well as witness intimidation. On the other hand, these lyrics are pretty specific in that they name the cops and directly threaten them ( see above ). Without knowing the law it's a little difficult to form an opinion. Although, I'm leaning towards the opinion that this sets a dangerous precedence.

Your thoughts.
 
Oct 2018
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#3
"...The rap song here is of a different nature and quality," the court's chief justice wrote in the majority opinion.

"They do not include political, social, or academic commentary, nor are they facially satirical or ironic. Rather, they primarily portray violence toward the police," the opinion read.

The rappers, in their brief filed Wednesday, said that the opinion "reveals a court deeply unaware of popular music generally and rap music specifically."

The song, they said, represented the "perspective of two invented characters in the style of rap music, which is (in)famous for its exaggerated, sometimes violent rhetoric, and which uses language in a variety of complex ways."

Sounds like a weak defense, too.

I agree with Ian. I'm not a lawyer, but I think if they'd written the song about the police in general, they'd prevail. IMO, when they had their "invented characters" threaten the cops by name, they blew their artistic license and crossed over into incitement to commit violence.
 

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