It seems like even though the First Amendment has been around since the late 1700s, it never ceases to be tested. While the realm of music has remained mostly protected for free speech, every now and then when certain boundaries are crossed, a court can deem that speech can’t be so “free”. In the recent case of “rapper” (term used loosely) Anthony Murillo of California, a legal controversy has centered on lyrics from his 2013 track, “Moment for Life Remix”. In the song, he threatens two women who were sexually assaulted by a friend of his (and who served time for his crimes), saying that he is coming for them, and they are going to “end up dead”. He also linked the song to a video in which he names the women and posed with a shotgun. Although a California trail judge initially dismissed the case, saying that the lyrics were “misogynistic” but within the realm of free speech, prosecutors appealed on the grounds that the lyrics represented a threat to the women’s safety. The California appeals court agreed that the intent to harm was present and therefore, the song is not protected as free speech. The decision of the appellate court is meaningful since music has been generally a safe space for expression. As the ways in which speech is disseminated evolves and expands, so does the ways in which laws, including the First Amendment, evolves and expands with it. This case is not over yet, it seems, as Murillo’s attorney is considering his next step.
Check out the full article (including the specific lyrics brought up in court): Online rapper must face the music, stand trial for threatening lyrics
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