According to Washington (CNN), The Supreme Court declined to take up the First Amendment case prosecuted by rapper Jamal Knox, who jailed for song threatening police and lost the free speech appeal. The justices left for another day to discuss the speech of “true threats” in the First Amendment.
Jamal Knox’s case started from his conviction in 2013 for rapping direct threats of violence against Pittsburgh police officers by name. Pennsylvania’s highest court ruled it as not protected speech under the First Amendment, while the rapper argued his song is a “work of poetry” where “meter and rhyme are primary, ” and his intention is different from the rap persona.
The complex relationship between the police and rappers have closed at least since N.W.A. released “F–k tha Police” in 1988. Jamal Knox unfolds the controversy book to another page by writing and performing his song also titled “F–k the Police” on Facebook and YouTube. The song named and threatened police officers, Daniel Zeltner and Michael Kosko, who arrested Knox and Rashee Beasley (the other rapper on the track) for drugs and weapons charges in 2012.
The snippets of the lyrics including “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.” Especially the final lines “Let’s kill these cops ’cause they don’t do us no good” is believed as “true threat,” which is not a category of speech protected by the Constitution. Knox’s attorneys argued, the Court has not clarified “whether, to establish that a statement is an unprotected ‘true threat’, the government must show objectively that a ‘reasonable person’ would regard the statement as threatening, or whether it is enough to prove only the speaker’s subjective intent to threaten.”
Early this March, Chance the Rapper, Killer Mike, Meek Mill, Yo Gotti, Fat Joe, 21 Savage and many more asked the Supreme Court to hear Knox’s case. Now the justices have determined they will not hear it.
Photo credits: Owen Ela