The pro-crime party keeps on pro-criming.
New York’s State Senate approved a bill Tuesday (May 17) that would limit prosecutors’ use of song lyrics and other forms of “creative expression” as evidence in criminal cases. Senate Bill S7527 would not ban prosecutors from presenting lyrics or other material to a jury, but would require them to show that the work is “literal, rather than figurative or fictional.”
The bill, which was sponsored by Senators Jamaal Bailey and Brad Hoylman, received public support from Jay-Z, Meek Mill, Killer Mike, Fat Joe, and Robin Thicke, among others. Before the bill can become a law, it must pass the New York State Assembly; a companion bill sponsored by Assembly member Catalina Cruz is pending before a committee and awaiting a vote.
The bill, while in the works for months, comes as Atlanta rappers Young Thug and Gunna face RICO charges in Georgia in a case where their lyrics and music videos make up the bulk of the state’s evidence of criminal conspiracy. In the 2013 case Dawson v. Delaware, the Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to use protected speech as evidence, provided that speech is irrelevant to the case.
The court declined to hear the case of Jamal Knox, a Pittsburgh rapper known as Mayhem Mal who was convicted on charges of terroristic threats and witness intimidation over lyrics in a 2012 song called “Fuck the Police.”
It is awkward when an entire genre based on violence whose members routinely engaged in violence toward each other and innocent people start pretending that they’re engaging in fictional threats, not real ones.
I usually err on the side of free speech, but a recap the Mayhem Mal case in a way that virtually no media outlet, which focuses on celeb rapper support, shows why it happened.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has rejected a free speech claim by a rapper who threatened to kill two Pittsburgh police officers he identified by name in a video titled “F— the Police.”
Using the name Mayhem Mal, Knox and another rapper threatened the officers who were scheduled to testify against them after arresting the pair on drug charges. The other rapper’s case was not before the court.
One of the officers said the video was one of the reasons he left the force and relocated.
Both officers are named, and Knox states in the song that the lyrics are for them. In one part of the rap song, Knox said, “I’ma jam this rusty knife all in his guts and chop his feet,” and, “Well your shift over at 3 and I’m gonna f— up where you sleep.” The song also suggests the rappers know the identity of a confidential informant and a have a plan to murder an informant with a Glock handgun.
This is what New York Senate Dems seem to driven to protect.
Would such a law, clearly preferencing criminals of a certain culture, survive a Supreme Court test?
If the court found First Amendment protection for the video, Saylor said, “we would in effect be interpreting the Constitution to provide blanket protection for threats, however severe, so long as they are expressed within that musical style.”
It’s a good question.
If a criminal writes a death threat in words cut out from a newspaper, isn’t that also an art project?
The New York Senate Dem F___ the Police bill, Establishes an assumption of the inadmissibility of evidence of a defendant’s creative or artistic expression against such defendant in a criminal proceeding; requires the proffering party to affirmatively prove that the evidence is admissible by clear and convincing evidence.
How are prosecutors going to prove that a criminal’s communications aren’t part of a creative project in an era where anything, from mutilated horses to a golden toilet to Banksy and rap can be considered art?
There’s no metric for art, which means anything is art.
Drug dealers can freely send text messages brokering drug deals as long as they do it in rap form.
I’m sure that this won’t make New York an even worse hellhole.