Clay Calvert Comments on Rapper Free Speech Appeal for Threatening Police Song
Clay Calvert, director of the Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications, was quoted in “Rapper Jailed for Song Threatening Police Tries a Free Speech Appeal – and Loses” published in The Washington Post on Aug. 22.
The article focuses on rapper Jamal Knox’s song that identified Pittsburgh police officers by name and made direct threats of violence against them. Knox claimed that the song should be considered free speech and thus was protected under the First Amendment. A Chief Justice in Pennsylvania’s higher court ruled against him.
“In addition to reigniting concerns about free speech protections for a genre of music known for violent lyrics, the decision also raises a ‘key First Amendment question’ dealing with specific intent,” said Calvert. “The decision highlights the need for the U.S. Supreme Court to resolve whether the First Amendment protects speech if there is no specific intent on the part of the speaker…to put the target in fear of imminent bodily harm or death.”