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Man Spends 8 Days in Jail for Posting Metal Lyrics on Facebook
Last month, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that violent rap lyrics cannot be used as evidence in trials, except for special situations when those lyrics are closely connected to the case in question. "One would not presume that Bob Marley, who wrote the well-known song 'I Shot the Sheriff,' actually shot a sheriff," the presiding judge wrote in her decision.
But even if violent lyrics can't be used against the author in court, it turns out they can be used against fans posting them to Facebook. A Kentucky man was recently arrested for posting violent lyrics from a metal band on his Facebook page.
The man, 31-year-old James Evans, took a quote from the song "Class Dismissed (A Hate Primer)" by the Bay Area metal band Exodus. The quote chosen by Evans is especially gruesome: "Student bodies lying dead in the halls, a blood splattered treatise of hate / Class dismissed is my hypothesis, gun fire ends in debate." The warrant for Evans' arrest suggested that "he threatened to kill students and/or staff at school."
After the incident, Exodus issued a statement, saying, "Exodus does not promote or condone terrorists, threats or bullying." Gary Holt, the band's guitarist, elaborated. "James Evans was simply posting lyrics to a band he likes on Facebook, and he was locked up for it. The song 'Class Dismissed (A Hate Primer)' was written as a view through the eyes of a madman and in no way endorses that kind of f--ked up behavior.
"It was the Virginia Tech massacre perpetrated by Seung-Hui Cho that was the subject and inspiration to write the song, one in which we put the brakes on playing it live after the Sandy Hook shooting, as we did not want to seem insensitive...when we start to overreact to things like lyrics by any band, including Exodus, and start arresting people, we are caving in to paranoia and are well on our way to becoming an Orwellian society."
Evans was released on Sept. 3 after eight days in jail.
"It's nonsense," Evans said of his arrest. "I feel like my civil rights have been violated... first amendment freedom of speech out the window. Even all the guys I was in the cell with, they thought it was nonsense themselves."
According to local news, Evans' case "will be deferred for six months and he will have to undergo a mental evaluation."