Keep It Under Raps

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The ACLU has just filed a lawsuit (Latour v. Riverside Beaver School District) to defend grade school student Anthony Latour's First Amendment right to compose music in the privacy of his own home.

Last April, the Riverside Beaver School District in Pennsylvania ordered Latour expelled because he had posted online rap lyrics using expletives and including "terroristic threats" (sic) that sounded violent. In addition to expulsion, court charges are pending from juvenile hall.

"School officials are not parents, and the First Amendment limits their authority to control what students read, write, rap or listen to in their own homes," said Witold Walczak, ACLU of Pennsylvania Legal Director and one of the lawyers in this case. "If this expulsion is upheld then it will effectively be illegal for Riverside Beaver District students to compose rap music, even in their own homes." Walczak noted that the student wrote and recorded the music at home, did not bring it into school, and that the principal admitted that the songs did not cause any disruption in the classroom.

Don't parents have the right to set ethical standards and regulate their kids' behavior in the home, so long as it doesn't interfere with anyone's safety or well-being? Latour's father, John, apparently agrees:

My grandparents didn't like Elvis; my parents didn't like Pink Floyd; and even though rap music may not be my taste, as parents my wife and I support Anthony's artistry and passion for rap music. And it is our job, not that of school officials, to decide what music Anthony can compose and listen to in our home.

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  1. This is why groups such as the ACLU and FIRE are so important. It is a shame that the ACLU is not more consistent, but they do serve a great role. Here’s hoping for the best in this scenario.

  2. I bet Rick Santorum is behind this…

  3. My guess is MC Trapper Keeper was expelled not because his lyrics were offensive or threatening, but because they sucked ass. Forgive me if I doubt the street cred of a “grade school” rapper who settles his beefs by filing briefs. What a loser.

    Only shitty rappers get caught up in court trials, e.g. 2 Live Crew and Lil’ Kim. The good ones are poetically murdered.

    R.I.P. Big L, Pac, B.I.G., Soulja Slim…

  4. Ok, here’s a sample of this d-bag’s lyrics from the ACLU site:

    “I smoke so much weed that I’m probably burnt
    Why the fuck can’t you stretch out a toddler’s shirt/
    How the fuck can you look like that shit sonny
    Ok money, dawg your fucking ugly
    Why do you keep puttin’ this shit upon yourself
    You resemble a 6 foot keebler elf
    What you say is lies, the word is you burned me
    How in the world could this urcle serve me.”

    Yeah, ok. The defense rests, Your Honor.

    I’d surrender my first amendment rights forever just to watch this dumbass get his eyes gouged out as punishment for making people (the ones that have to, at any rate) read his Wesley Willis-inspired shit lyrics.

  5. If some rap-recording company, looking for instant publicity, offered this kid a contract I’d buy a copy, solely to piss off the school. And I loathe rap music.

  6. What you say is lies, the word is you burned me
    How in the world could this urcle serve me.”

    Did I do thaaaaaaat?

  7. Wow…that’s some bad stuff. The school is taking entirely the wrong tack. Rather than expelling him, they should be doing their best to lure him to school every day so they can try to teach him better writing skills.

    Sadly, if the writing skills of my childrens’ teachers are any indication, that would be futile.

    So, never mind.

  8. I love it how the ACLU tries to dress this up by calling the kid a “rap artist”. Give me a fucking break. The details of this case would hold up fine, and still call the boy what he is: a white-bread, punk ass, weak wannabe.

    For every Eminem there has to be at least 1,000 of these losers. Seriously, kid, put down the mike, pull up your pants, and just listen. Better yet, try some of your dad’s Floyd albums..

  9. “And I loathe rap music.”

    I would NOT buy his record precisely because I LOVE rap music.

    Oh well, not everyone can be a fan.

  10. Nice to see the school breaking out the T word to describe this kid’s “music”.

    We should contact Merriam-Webster and change the definition of terrorism if this is the current usage. Is there a sadder case than a paranoid high school teacher?

  11. There is but one way to settle this: a freestyle rap battle in court.

    I’ve never seen lyrics that sucked so hard the couldn’t at least manage to stick it to The Man. And if the kid loses, I’ll pour a 40 on the curb for him.

  12. Would be interested to see the lyrics that the school based their decision on. Doesn’t appear that the ACLU brief gives a full presentation of that.

    The brief does make a good point — if true — in that the school didn’t take any immediate action despite believing (apparently) that this kid was some sort of threat. The school really can’t say “oh we did it because he made a threat” when they knew about this for some time and didn’t do anything about it. While there may not be a literal waiver doctrine here (ie — the school waived its right to cry “threat” because it waited so long or didn’t take any actions consistent with believing there really was a threat) to apply, there is some traction to this approach nonetheless.

    But again, i am most interested to see the lyrics of his “third party narrative” about Columbine (not available in the ACLU brief or on its website), written as it was even though “Anthony did not really know the details of the Columbine incident until June 2005 (over 7 months after Anthony wrote the song) when he watched a PBS documentary concerning the incident with his father.

    While drinking milk and reciting the Boy Scout oath on his way to the Truth Telling Contest two towns over, they forgot to add.

  13. You resemble a 6 foot keebler elf

    That’s pretty funny, no?

  14. His lyrics aren’t NEARLY as bad as the sample posted above, and he’s 14 for chrissakes. Give him a couple years.

  15. According to this, the lyrics the district based their decision on were from his song “Massacre” and the entire text is on the ACLU site.

  16. “I one touch this dumbfuck and come up
    Like kumquats in dumptrucks your mics been hung up
    Through the bumrush
    You can’t rap put your motherfuckin’ pencil down
    I catch adrenalin but you sit the bench in this town
    You ain’t the rivaside rydah, you a rivaside kid
    Matter of fact I’ma claim you the rivaside bitch
    If bones bre B can hold his own
    Then bones bre B will stand alone
    Well he got no choice, didn’t know I was insane son
    I’m smackin you back to wherever the fuck you came from
    It’s been like that since day 1, just another steady day
    You better pray or get away I set it straight with melodays
    And after that I shatter wackness put ya matter in a casket……”

    For the rap fans: c’mon, NOT bad for a battle rap by a 14 year old.

  17. Like kumquats in dumptrucks your mics been hung up

    Huh. I didn’t know they hung kumquats in dumptrucks. But if they do, then I’m sure that the other guy’s mic was in fact hung up in a very similar manner.

  18. Were those good or bad rap lyrics? I honestly can’t tell the difference.

  19. From the ACLU’s press release linked in the post:

    “The lawsuit was filed today in U. S. District Court in Pittsburgh. […] The claims include a request that the court rule that the school’s expulsion violates […]the parents’ right to control and direct their children’s upbringing. ”

    Suppose Anthony was a girl who wanted an abortion, and her parents didn’t want her to get one. I wonder if the ACLU would bring suit claiming the parents have a “right to control and direct their children’s upbringing” in that case?

  20. Jes’ Wondrin’

    Back in the ’80s the ACLU went to bat for the parents of a kid who had refused to return to the USSR with his parents.

  21. “MC Trapper Keeper” makes me think of Cartman. I’m still laughing.

    If the kid published specific threats against the school and classmates, using poor grammar, then he should be expelled as both a physical and figurative threat to the learning environment. He can sue his own parents for inadequate supervision.

  22. Bad rap lyrics: Lator’s.

    Good rap lyrics:

    [Chorus]
    I can squeeze without blinkin, I’m a cold-blooded nigga
    Bank robber (ooooh) I’m a natural born killer
    Drug dealer, anything it took to survive
    Even if it took a nigga to die, I’m a gangsta

    [Verse 3]
    No mo’ petty rock hustlin, I’m in for the run
    And I’m fo’sho I’m gon’ be murdered for this shit that I done
    But I’ma die standin up cause I’m a stand up nigga
    Fuck dyin like a bitch on my knees, I’m a killer
    So don’t nobody cry cause I was destined to get it
    Just remember, I’m the one who took the dope game and flipped it
    and pimped it, and destroyed everything in the way
    of me seein first motherfuckin light of the day
    A trigger man, deadly as fuck with a loaded AK
    Spot my enemy and kill him the American way
    I turned a dream into reality, with a “FUCK YOU” mentality
    Silencin all these niggaz in the neighborhood who challenged me
    Family grievin from they loved one’s mortality
    He ain’t got a reason to die then kill him, it’s a tragedy

    [Chorus]

    — Scarface, “In Cold Blood”

    And that’s not up for debate.

  23. “decide what music Anthony can compose and listen to in our home.”

    Wait a minute, he wasn’t expelled for what he did in his room, he was expelled for PUBLIC threats posted for all the world to see.

  24. The posted samples don’t even come close to the worst-ever rap lyrics; the worst-ever rap lyrics — and this is not a topic for debate — were written by Tom Wolfe in his novel A Man In Full. Just awful.

  25. someone should email this kid a copy of they schools by dead prez.

  26. Meh. He’s no mc pee pants

    I want candy, bubble gum and taffy
    Skip to the sweet shop with my sweetheart Sandy
    Got my pennies saved so I’m a sugar daddy
    I’m her Hugh Cronyn, she’s my Jessica Tandy, I want candy!
    *
    Gonna get ya asses kicked
    Nasty
    Do it to your daddy, embarass your own family
    Just ’cause you came in front of a kid and his candy
    I need candy
    Any kind’ll do
    Don’t care if it’s nutritious or “FDA approved”

    It’s gonna make me spaz like bobcats on booze
    A hyperactive juice that only I can produce

    Use a giant drill, bore straight into hell
    Releasin ancient demons from a sleep forever spell
    So they can walk upon the earth, and get resituated
    And hawk the diet pills that MC Pee Pants have created

    Mess up the mix, mix up the mess
    Come on down yo, here’s the address
    I said six, one-two Wharf Avenue
    Six, one-two wharf avanue

  27. Mediageek,

    MC Chris, the dude that does MC Pee Pants and MC Beefsteak and Hesh on Sealab is actually a freakin great rapper. His beats are really strange and good – try to get a hold of the song DQ Blizzard. Rock!

  28. Randolph-
    Just last night after I looked up the lyrics for the mc pee pants song, I got off on one of those weird internet tangents that started at Wikipedia and ended up at his website.

    At 1 am I was already kinda punchy from lack of sleep, and Fett’s Vette had me cackling like an idiot.

    My backpack’s got jets…

  29. hop on a torrent site and download the “Bebop Cola” episode of Sealab – it’s the episode where they use Fette’s Vette. Also, they make fun of Xtreme! advertising, which although a little dated is freaking hilarious

  30. I said six, one-two Wharf Avenue
    Six, one-two wharf avanue

    Right next to…Centlemen’s Club!

    MC PeePants rules! I actually have a promotional copy of that song on CD. I listen to it, too. It’s super catchy! I love rappers who sound like they haven’t quite reached puberty but who actually have.

  31. Shit! meant to type “Gentleman’s Club”.

  32. i know AXE, personally, the songs they played were his weakest one’s, he is 14 years old and this kid has more talent than you really know

    “theres a cypher in my eyes thats never ending soldiers definition kinda like a medicine for everything, hence the endless tension in my penmanship, i think im suicidal but im hopin im not, that why i smoke a pack a day to get closer to god”
    – AXE

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