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She Posted Rap Lyrics to Remember a Dead Teen, So the U.K. Prosecuted Her for Hate Speech

Why all Americans should be thankful for the First Amendment

CensoredMitja Mithans / Dreamstime.comProsecutors in Liverpool decided they were unable to charge anybody in the death of Frankie Murphy when the 13-year-old boy was struck and killed by a car while riding his bike back in 2016.

But prosecutors did charge and convict a young woman who posted rap lyrics on Instagram in Murphy's memory, because they included the n-word.

Chelsea Russell, 19, posted lyrics to a song by the Detroit rapper Snap Dogg (no, not Snoop Dogg) on the bio of her Instagram account to pay tribute to Murphy. The song, "I'm Trippin'," released in 2016, is heavy on killing snitches and waving guns around and it has lots of use of the n-word. It's the type of song that people point to when they say they don't like rap music because it's too violent.

According to the Liverpool Echo, Russell's Instagram account was reported to a constable in a "hate crime unit" who found the lyrics "offensive and upsetting." Russell was charged with sending a grossly offensive message by means of a public electronic communications network.

At Russell's trial, her defense pointed out that Jay-Z had used these similarly offensive words at a music festival in Glastonbury. She had copied the lyrics off a friend's Instagram account—apparently thousands of others were using the lyrics to remember Murphy. Clearly it must have been a favorite song of his.

But the court and the magistrates didn't care. District Judge Jack McGarva said: "There is no place in civil society for language like that. Everyone with an Instagram account could view this content. The lyrics also encourage killing and robbing, so are grossly offensive."

Russell now has to submit to ankle monitoring for eight weeks and pay the equivalent of about $800 in fines.

This is what the enforcement of "hate speech" laws looks like. This woman was prosecuted entirely because a person in a position of power found her repetition of somebody else's song lyrics offensive. She does not stand accused even of using hate speech to actually encourage racial violence against others. People with the power to fine or lock up Russell merely found what she posted too offensive for their ears, and now she's going to pay for it.

Americans who insist that hate speech shouldn't be protected speech need to understand that: They're not the ones who will choose who gets prosecuted under these laws.

Here's the Snap Dogg song that inspired his whole case. Perhaps think twice about sharing if you're in the United Kingdom:

Photo Credit: Mitja Mithans / Dreamstime.com

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  • Citizen X - #6||

    What a garbage little island.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    At this point, England is worse than the Tri-State Area. Would not.

  • RoyMo||

    That has been the case since for everyone of the 234 years since Evacuation Day. Not that that is a particularly high standard though, it also applies to West Virgina, Tunica, and El Centro

    The UK has always been about unnecessarily bad plumbing, bad climate control, bad food, and authoritarianism, the last of which is always bad.

  • Quixote||

    Come now, the premise here is hardly accurate. England is doing a good job suppressing unwanted hate speech, just like authorities in New York are doing a good job suppressing unwanted internet "satire." See the documentation of America's leading criminal "parody" case at:

    https://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

  • FreeAmerican||

    This is a great of sensorship on Facebutt, Twinkling Twitter and others. Unless of course you agree with them. Then you can say what ever you want.

  • damikesc||

    Amazing how disarming a populace encourages governments to stomp on speech rights, ain't it?

  • Zeb||

    I'm not seeing the direct connection there. Could be, I suppose. But I think it's more the same impulse and belief that government can transform society that is behind both.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    To paraphrase our previous POTUS, "society needs to change" in these regards.

  • FreeAmerican||

    Our previous POTUS sucked.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    For 20 years I've been wondering who was going to deliver us from Rap. God save the Queen.

  • Zeb||

    Has someone been forcing you to listen to rap for the last 20 years? I will agree that rap has by and large gone downhill in the last 20 years.

  • DaveKunard||

    This is likely a function of how music has changed in the past twenty years and why a lot of people who aren't really into a particular genre think it has declined in general. Back in the 90's large record labels and media conglomerates controlled the distribution of music. There was always much bitching about this and how it suppressed creativity.

    Since then, both the production and distribution costs of music have dropped to essentially zero. This means far more music is being made, and ultimately, more good music.

    However, the "unintended consequence" of this is that those record labels and media platforms provided a sort of filter, that every kind of music was competing to get through.

    Now that distribution is free, those filters work differently, and require a bit more active work to use. So even in a particular genre, (like punk for myself) there is so much being produced that it can be easy to miss out on good bands, and it's a bit harder to have those bands that "everyone knows".

    I imagine it works similarly for other genres, including hip hop and R&B,

  • DaveKunard||

    Now, as this applies to the "mainstream" music outlets like radio and such- the hardcore music fans are going to be too busy exploring their own genre (which is also what a huge part of the cultural circles revolve around) to bother with whatever scraps radio might throw them. So outside of some college radio stations, radio doesn't target the hardcore fans. Rather, they target people who aren't especially into music per ce, i.e.m those who wouldn't bother searching out new bands on their computer or going to local music shows. So the music they play is formulated to have the broadest, but shallowest appeal. In other words, average radio listener isn't going to love anything in particular, but isn't going to be turned off enough to turn off the radio or switch the station. While this was somewhat always the case, "pop" music traditionally didn't just include what might fall under the category of "pop", but the "best" of other genres as well. And since the radio and MTV and the like had a bigger audience, you had "pop" sensations that wouldn't happen today.

    Given current radio dynamics, the "smart" bet is sticking to formula, especially since even amongst the diminshed audience, you're just not going to move records anymore, it's about ad revenue and live concerts.

  • Hugh Akston||

    If you don't like it, stop listening to it.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Why stop listening to it when you can force your preferences on everyone else? This whole "live and let live" thing is so passe.

  • Thrackmoor||

    I don't have a choice. It's blasting out of a car 3 lanes over and 10 car-lengths behind me. ;)

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Dude, quit posting while driving.

  • Dick Puller, Attorney at Law||

    I generally respond to that by blasting back Mozart at an ear-shattering volume. "Western civilization, fucker! Eat your heart out!".

  • Hugh Akston||

    So either you don't consider music produced by Americans in America to be Western, or you believe that Western civilization stopped 200 years ago?

  • Don't look at me.||

    The good stuff did.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    ^posted while wearing a powdered wig, waistcoat, and knee breeches

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    It's hard to put music that comments on "bitches", "hos" and contemplates ceaseless violence with the latest Mac-10 or whatever in the same sentence as "civilization". Our civilization may not have stopped 200 years ago but it sure as hell is screaming to a halt now.

  • DaveKunard||

    oh please, you would have been one of the people saying elvis gyrating his hips was a proof of the nation's moral decline.

  • Longtobefree||

    "rock and roll ain't been worth a damn since Buddy Holly died" - John

  • Longtobefree||

    "rock and roll ain't been worth a damn since Buddy Holly died" - John

  • DaveKunard||

    In all seriousness, do you genuinely listen to Mozart at home or in your car for entertainment?

    I'm sure some people do, but they are probably a small minority compared to people who would say they listened to mozart as a form of social signalling.

    I also think what you get from that is different then what most people get from modern music, which has its synergy with lyrics as an essential component, creating an anthemic poem.

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    The serial killer always listens to Mozart as he prepares for his killing spree. Movies don't lie!

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    This woman was prosecuted entirely because a person in a position of power found her repetition of somebody else's song lyrics offensive.

    To be fair, it took a lot of people in power to be offended by the lyrics -- the cop, the judge, and various prosecutors in between. It's snowflakes all the way up.

  • Hugh Akston||

    They didn't have to be offended. They just needed to know that it was within their power to prosecute her.

  • Rhywun||

    Actually it only took one (unnamed) snitch. Everyone else is just following orders.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Everyone else is just following orders.

    You know who else was just following - nevermind, too easy.

  • Don't look at me.||

    Was it clowns?

  • Eidde||

    By Jove, these rap lyrics are simply not cricket
    Post them on Instagram you'll be in a sticky wicket
    Anyone who plays that rap junk is just plain wicked
    Give me Spice Girls instead, that's ticket

  • Eidde||

    that's *the* ticket

  • Agammamon||

    nah dog, you had it right the first time. slang, yo.

  • IceTrey||

    Nigga please.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    If she isn't black then she should be just be thankful that she's not being put to death for this heinous act of cultural appropriation. /sarc

  • Just Say'n||

    www.nationalreview.com/2018/04.....ee-speech/

    We just attempt to ban unwoke books in the US.

  • Rhywun||

    I agree with a conclusion drawn by David French. Wow.

  • Just Say'n||

    Likelihood of so-called "civil libertarians" making a fuss over this: 0%. But, criticism about the UK criminalizing speech while pretending that it is not totally happening in the US is really cute.

  • Christophe||

    I'm pretty confident California's law won't survive judicial scrutiny. The supreme court is pretty decent on not allowing book bans, if nothing else.

  • Just Say'n||

    "I'm pretty confident that the Supreme Court will invalidate the federal government forcing nuns to buy birth control. The Supreme Court is pretty decent at upholding religious liberty"

    - You, 2011

  • DaveKunard||

    Actually reading the bill in question, it doesn't appear to "ban books" in the sense that French suggested. Rather it appears to prevent someone from advertising sex-orientation conversion therapy as legitimate psychiatric practice.

    I'm not a lawyer of course, but it seems like it wouldn't ban someone from offering this kind of conversion treatment or promoting it, it would prevent such promotions from claiming any basis in scientific fact or endorsement by licensed psychiatry.

    That's an entirely different argument from banning books.

    It's sort of the equivalent of when people sell supplements and they make health claims, they have to add a disclaimer that those claims are not endorsed by the FDA. By my reading of this, you could advertise such conversion treatments, but would have to include some sort of similar disclaimer like *these statements are not endorsed and are in fact recommended against by the APA.

    Given that these "treatments" are often forced on children by their parents without the child's consent and often amount to little more then torture till the child is afraid to admit that their orientation, and basically all evidence saying they don't actually work, I don't see this as a huge threat to freedom.

    If consenting adults want to subject themselves to and pay for this nonsense, sure they have every right, but I think if you accept "fraud" as being a bad thing, people who sell this shit to parents by passing it off as backed by science are fraudsters.

  • Ken Hagler||

    I hope Mel Brooks is aware of all this and stays out of the UK. He's an old man, and it would be terrible if he died in prison for having made "The Producers" 50 years ago.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    Blazing Saddles would likely get him locked up in the Tower of London.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    Contemplating cinematic classics that could not be made today. RIP

  • JeremyR||

    Not to mention his hit single, The Hitler Rap

  • Microaggressor||

    is heavy on killing snitches and waving guns around and it has lots of use of the n-word

    And what could that be? Since this is the UK, my guess is Nationalism.
    No need to be so niggardly, Scott.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Russell's Instagram account was reported to a constable in a "hate crime unit"

    The fact this is even a thing in the UK is reason enough to never set foot in that vile shithole of a country.

    Although it does sound like an idea for the next Law and Order spinoff:

    "In the criminal justice system, hate speech is considered especially heinous.
    In the United Kingdom, the dedicated detectives who investigate these vicious thoughtcrimes are members of an elite squad known as the Hate Crime Unit. These are their stories."

  • gormadoc||

    "I shit you not, one guy had his dog do a Nazi salute. It took all I had not to feel endangered and kill him during the arrest."

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    They did do a "Law & Order: UK". Basically it was rewrites of old "Law & Order" programs. Awful.

  • Deconstructed Potato||

    I laughed a hearty laugh. Law & Order UK was terrible, though.

  • Crusty Juggler||

  • Rhywun||

    heavy on killing snitches and waving guns around and it has lots of use of the n-word

    That narrows it down.

  • Don't look at me.||

    Makes unique among rap music productions.

  • Jerryskids||

    Russell's Instagram account was reported to a constable in a "hate crime unit" who found the lyrics "offensive and upsetting."

    What's the contact information for the hate crimes unit? I have a constable I need to report for the crime of calling the words of an internationally-recognized African-American musician "offensive and upsetting". If that ain't racism pure and simple, I don't know what is.

  • Don't look at me.||

    I take it you cannot buy snap dogg music in the uk? Or is he out of the reach of prosecution?

  • Christophe||

    Nuke the entire country from orbit, it's the only way to be sure.

  • Zeb||

    District Judge Jack McGarva said: "There is no place in civil society for language like that. Everyone with an Instagram account could view this content. The lyrics also encourage killing and robbing, so are grossly offensive."

    With all due respect, my lord (or whatever they call judges in the UK), fuck you.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    "There is no place in civil society for language like that. Everyone with an Instagram account could view this content. The lyrics also encourage killing and robbing, so are grossly offensive."

    Crackin' Gov'na.

  • Just Say'n||

    Can you imagine if someone released such language on some kind of music recording device and then released it to the general public for purchase? The horror

  • sarcasmic||

    I like some rap. Beastie Boys, Tribe Called Quest, but that video was crap with a silent c.

  • Juice||

    stuffwhitepeoplelike.com

  • Get To Da Chippah||

    I find the decision of the court offensive, and demand the judge who rendered it be thrown in jail.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    It's the type of song that people point to when they say they don't like rap music because it's too violent.

    That's a shame, they should be pointing to better violent songs.

  • I can't even||

    Do the English realize that their countryman George Orwell was trying to warn them, not instruct them?

  • Alcibiades||

    I think an appropriately worded epistle to the Hate Crime Unit is in order.
    Top of my "to do" list this evening.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    We should flood them with phone calls.

  • jdgalt1||

    This comparison is totally bogus. It's so frequent it's typical that children who ride bicycles on the street are at-fault in accidents in which they may get hurt. Murphy just happened to hit the jackpot, and it's good the law there doesn't automatically assume that the car driver is at fault when such a collision happens, because he usually isn't.

  • IMissLiberty||

    Somehow, I keep having to defend "hate speech." There are unlimited ways in which to express one's hatred, and speech has got to be the one that is safest for society. It not only allows expression, but serves as useful information, like a rattlesnake's rattle.

    The alternative is to force people to bottle up their feelings, unless or until they can't.

    I'll defend free speech for many other reasons. I'll even defend so-called "commercial speech." Free speech, period. But those who want to make an exception for "hate speech" deserve to be locked up in a room with a rage-filled cellmate.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    I knew there was a reason we kicked the Brits out. Good to be reminded of what it was every now and then.

    And I don't give a shit about the royal baby

  • Jimbo||

    I think there's a good chance she can...

    ...dons sunglasses

    Beat that rap.

  • Fairbanks||

    "Americans who insist that hate speech shouldn't be protected speech need to understand that: they're not the ones who will choose who gets prosecuted under these laws."

    It's time to retire this argument, which I've heard in these pages many times. A prohibition on hate speech is offensive per se. It doesn't depend on whether your ox might be gored. This argument is effectively saying that you can consider any law as being OK as long as it doesn't affect you.

  • Jazzizhep||

    I get your point, but it's nitpicking. So I shall nitpick as well.

    I agree, the "you're not the one who is prosecuting" argument is not a rebuke of the law itself. It is, however, a rebuttal to the reasoning behind the law.

    The recognition of speech as an inalienable right is already lost on the proponents of "hate speech" laws. No point in repeating it. The example tries to explain how anyone can get "their ox gored." Especially people currently pointing out ox to be gored.

  • jcbinok||

    I can't wait 'til England starts pulling Shakepseare off the shelves.

    Is this a dagger I see before me, with its handle pointing toward my hand? (to the dagger) Come, let me clutch thee.


    -Macbeth, Act 2, scene 1

  • Oscarson44.||

    Anyone else bothered that her lawyer's best defense arguement boiled down to "but everyone else was doing it too"?

  • Chris Cat||

    What is wrong with England? There are exiting Western Civilization! It makes me think of the movie and graphic novel "V for Vendetta".

    More and more I am convinced that starving the government of funding for all but essential roles like local policing is the only way to stop these insane abuses by people who clearly find their undershorts a wee bit empty and need to compensate.

    To think that England used to be the source of cutting edge politics and art! What do the people live for now? Some booze and the telly, mediocre music and the next hand out?

  • Elias Fakaname||

    This is all an example of why progressives should be exterminated where we find them. When they gather in numbers, this shit happens.

  • Longtobefree||

    News Flash - Churchill died.

  • Chetmon||

    Too bad freedom of speech is the excuse people use to perpetuate hate and stupidity. This girl couldn't have another of his favorite songs? All his favorite songs were vile and stupid? This rapper is a waste of space. And the girl showed no respect to anyone by sharing that filth, let alone the boy who died.

  • FreeAmerican||

    Europe is out of control no doubt but let's not forget America does have some restrictions on free speech. You can't yell fire in a theater being the most obvious but you also can't insight murder. Wait, wait just a moment here wait. If your black you do have black privilege and are allowed to encourage the murder of police and white babies as witnessed by BLM ie Black Lives Matter so there is that. Black privilege also allows you to riot and destroy businesses even when what your rioting about isn't true for example hands up don't shoot which was a total lie. Every witness to the incident testified the Brown never raised his hands and was attacking the cop except one the guy who helped him rob the liquor store. Again the domestic terrorist group BLM with their black privilege. Everything as this comment is true research it.

  • Longtobefree||

    You can't yell fire in a theater
    You very well can. Especially if there is a fire in the theater.
    The phrase often used to suppress other speech is actually FALSELY yelling fire in a crowded theater. Turns out you can do that too. If you are arrested, it will not be for yelling fire (the speech) it will be for causing a riot or public disturbance, but not for the actual act of speech.

  • Longtobefree||

    So before we say this should not happen here, consider this. All political speech is offensive to the other side(s). So this would lead to no more political speeches, no more political ads, no more political web posts.
    Might be a reasonable price to pay - - - - - - -

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