Corporations, pressured by individuals who threaten boycotts, can slow rappers down
by pulling support from them. Stores can refusef to stock albums.
Civil suits threaten to touch rockers and rappers in the pocketbook. So far,
however, individuals have not prevailed in suits against rockers or rappers. But a suit
against the late Tupac Shakur has survived his death. Suits become another form of
economic pressure because even when rappers win, suits are expensive to defend.
In sum, the First Amendment gives important but narrow protection to rappers; the
government could only stop music that truly incited violence. But the First Amendment has no effect on corporations or individuals who apply economic pressure on
"Wal-Mart Bans Album because of Gun Lyrics", The Houston Chronicle, 3 Star Edition, Sept. 10, 1996, p. 3; Reuters World Service, BC cycle, September 10, 1996.
"Wal-Mart Bans Album because of Gun Lyrics."
Barry Layne, "Angry Rapper Ice-T: 'Cops Should Feel Threatened",' BPI Entertainment
News Wire, June 20, 1992; Irwin Arieff, "Quayle Hits Time-Warner Over Rap Singer Ice-T",
Reuters, June 19, 1992, AM cycle.
Ben Macintyre, "Police Press for Boycott of Batman Film over Cop Killer Song", The
Times, Overseas News ( June 19, 1992).
Richard Roth, "Cop-Killing Rap Lyrics Are a Subject of Controversy", CNN News,
Transcript # 60-5, June 19, 1992; Richard Roth, "Ice-T Addresses New Music Seminar on
'Cop Killer' CD", CNN, "Showbiz Today", Transcript # 69-1, June 18, 1992; David Treadwell
, "Ice-T Rips Efforts to Suppress His 'Cop Killer' Song", Los Angeles Times, Home
Edition, June 19, 1992, p. F1.
AP, "Rapper Ice-T Defends Song Against Spreading Boycott", New York Times, Late
Edition-Final, June 19, 1992, p. C24. The 35,000 members of the National Black Politic
Association did not join in the boycott. "Uh-huh, You Had the Right One, Baby", Chicago
Tribune, North Sports Final Edition, June 18, 1992, p. 24.
Treadwell, "Ice-T Rips Efforts".
Roth, "Cop-Killing Rap Lyrics"; Roth, "Ice-T Addresses".
Roth, "Ice-T Addresses".
Layne, "Angry Rapper Ice-T".
Schenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47 ( 1919).
John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, Part III. In
Max Lerner, ed., Essential Works of John
Stuart Mill ( New York: Bantam Books, 1961), p. 304.
Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 44 ( 1969).
Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 447. In Brandenburg, a Ku Klux Klan leader was
convicted of violating a statute prohibiting advocacy of "the duty, necessity, or propriety of
sabotage, violence or unlawful methods of terrorism as a means of accomplishing industrial or
political reform." Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444-445. The proscription of "unlawful
methods of terrorism" of course raises the question of whether there are lawful methods of
Watters v. TSR, Inc., 904 F.2d 378, 383 (6th Cir. 1990).
AP, "Rapper Ice-T Defends Song"; Layne, "Angry Rapper Ice-T".
Macintyre, "Police Press for Boycott".