Friday, September 21, 2012

Con Law Scholar Russell Simmons Says It All

I rarely defer to anyone in my opinions on the First Amendment, but when a great intellectual such as Russell Simmons states a different opinion, I have to listen and consider. Earlier this week, hip-hop mogul Simmons tweeted to his millions of adoring acolytes that it should be illegal to make a “hate movie.” The tweet was timed to bolster the Obama administration's claim that an anti-Muslim video is the cause of all the Middle East violence.

Said the rap fashionista: “It would be illegal to yell fire in a movie theater and it could be illegal to make [a] hate film which was obviously designed to cause alarm.” Here's an example of speech which should be illegal: “In America you'll never be free; Middle fingers up! F—k the police; Damn, can't a n----r just breathe?” Oh, wait. Wrong example. That one came from Simmons' new superstar rapper Nas. Nas is listed as one of President Obama's favorite performers and is on his I-pod.

Simmons has curried many rap stars, all of whom seem to have the same thoughts and the same foul vocabulary. Def Jam has made him the third richest rap music multi-millionaire. Def Comedy Jam on cable was the longest-running speed-swearing, cop-threatening, misogynistic “comedy” show in history. With the obscenities removed, the show was about three and a half minutes long. He and his recent ex-wife developed clothing lines called Baby Phat and Phat Farm (why the latter isn't Phat Pharm is beyond me). I think the lines were developed to teach young people how to spell.

But killing cops and raping women is nothing compared to an amateur video put together by a nutcase when it causes “alarm” for Muslims. In fact, it's so alarming that half the Middle East has gone up in flames over it, though it's unlikely that very many people ever saw it. But it was enough to stir Simmons up and call for the criminalization of “alarming” videos. Simmons didn't even attempt to define what comprises an alarming hate film, nor did he have any idea who would do the enforcing, and where they would get the legal authority to prosecute.

Obviously, Simmons is blissfully unaware that the only reason he and his “stars” aren't sitting in jail right now is the First Amendment. His recording collections include calls to urban rioting, killing public authorities, and raping and/or killing women. I don't know about you, but I find that alarming. Also, without the history of obscenity rulings that go back to the Earl Warren Court, the every-third-word f-bombs alone would put him and his stars in durance vile. Hate and violence are the core of gangsta rap, but we are required to consider that “art.”

Following his mentor's lead, Def Jam rap group The Roots' drummer, Quest Love, tweeted: “i was thinkin WE should not makin propaganda films that would endanger our country.” He was referring to the silly and obnoxious video attacking Mohammed. Perhaps some day Quest Love will inform us who “we” is. I didn't make it. You didn't make it. The government didn't make it. Nobody with an ounce of talent or common sense made it. But “we” shouldn't be doing it.

What Simmons and the Def Jam posse are telling us is that “alarming films” should be criminalized, and those connected with them jailed. Naturally, he or someone like him would be the unofficial arbiter of what is and is not alarming. Like the Obama administration, he believes that the Constitution, law and precedent are stumbling blocks inhibiting going after bad guys. Or at least what he defines as bad guys. Talk about putting the fox in charge of the henhouse.


Joel Farnham said...


Wow. You can make money by saying that? My mom really did me wrong. She and her soap. I could of been a millionaire by now. Maybe even a billionaire. All shot down because my mom had good taste.

Anthony said...

Obama's request to internet sites that they pull footage of the movie bothers me a lot more than Simmon's ignorance of the First Amendment.

Also, I disagree from you and Andrew in that I think that the movie has sparked the sometimes violent protests in the Muslim world (though I don't think they sparked the attack which killed the ambassador). Some Muslims have reacted badly to such things before.

I wouldn't be surprised if only a minority of protesters had seen the movie, but I would be even more surprised if the local media in many of the countries in question haven't been pouring oil on the fires with heavy coverage of the film.

That being said, while what is going on now is what the filmmaker was hoping to trigger, it doesn't mean that the filmmaker is to blame for the violence.

The protesters need to accept that freedom doesn't stop at criticism of Islam. I would say religion, but some of those that whine about the portrayal of Muhammed are perfectly happy to demonize Judaism and Christianity.

I'm not saying people unhappy about the film need to accept or ignore it, but they should protest peacefully (denunciations which don't call for violence, boycotts and letter writing campaigns are all fair play).

Also, its worth noting that among private citizens who aren't card carrying members of absolutist groups like the ACLU, defense of speech is to one extent or another is contingent upon whose ox is being gored.

Tennessee Jed said...

history abounds with people who are selective in their reasoning. we refer to them as hypocrites. Anthony, I agree with you about Islamic reaction to things that offend them. There seems to be a huge chunk of people who are influenced by the jihadists. There reaction to being offenses seems to be to place a fatwah on the offending party. It would be analogous to Christians placing a bounty on the "artist" who did the urine soaked Jesus "art." How 11th century.

StanH said...

As my daughter would say, “I know, right.” It’s really kind of funny, and sad at the same time, that Russell Simmons considers himself the arbiter of offensive content in “art.” I put art in quotes, because there is nothing more subjective than what constitutes art.

T-Rav said...

Seriously, who's Russell Simmons? I know he's supposed to be some kind of rap star or mogul or whatever, but the only time I hear anything about him is when he's shooting his mouth off about politics. I bet even most of the people applauding him don't know who he is.

tryanmax said...

I need to re-read 1984. I had forgotten about the two minutes of hate.

BevfromNYC said...

Anthony, you are naive. I love ya', but you are naive. If we had not gotten prior warnings AND if it had not been on 9/11, I might agree with you, but you are naive. And furthermore, if the Obama Administration could just get their story straight. Obama and Clinton still insist that it's the movie trailer's fault,

A "Senior Counter-terrorism official" told a Congressional committee that this was an act of terrorism.
And then only after that now, Jay Carney idiot Press Sec't, is saying these were Al Qaeda terrorist attacks with his now famous Well, duh "It is self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack," when only the day before he insisted just the opposite.

These people are completely incompetant, period. They F'ed up big time and they are doing everything in their power to foist the blame on anyone and anything that is not them. Including Romney who is the only one in this parade of incompetants speaks the truth at least about our values and our 1st Amendment rights!

Oh, and let's just put the icing on the cake with some ignorant Hypocritical gansta' rap mogul who has made his billions by degrading EVERYTHING in his path as the one to decide when others create garbage! God help us, PLEASE!!!!

Wake me up when the President gives a crap about any of this because I am now in a coma from the effects of Obama-lie-itis. The only known cure will be available Nov. 7 when like Sleeping Beauty, we can all awake from this national nightmare.

rlaWTX said...

Empirically-supported, behaviorally-based parenting concepts include ignoring bad behavior and rewarding good behavior. I think we [Americans of right mind] should begin to apply this principle to "celebrities".
Either that or duct taping over their mouths...

Anthony said...


I'm not saying the attack which killed the ambassador wasn't pre-planned, I'm saying that the proximate cause of the demonstrations (but not the attacks with high explosives) is the video.

That doesn't make the administration come off any better. The ambassador's security detail was shockingly light considering the dangerous city the consulate was located in and the consulate itself was poorly fortified.

Whether or not the administration had advance warning is immaterial, there is a minimum level of security one is supposed to have when operating anywhere, let alone alone in countries that dangerous. Having the Ambassador away from a relatively secure embassy and at a much less secure consulate on 9/11 was a bad idea.

Also, as I've stated repeatedly, the administration's condemning of both the movie and the French cartoons is terrible.

Our message shouldn't be 'We agree that these products are terrible and we're sorry and we're doing everything we can to stop them' but 'In a free society, people can say what they like, whether or not the government approves of their message'.

T-Rav said...

Anthony and Bev, I think a useful way to look at it is to compare these people to the Nazis. There is, of course, the whole Jew-hating thing, but what I mean is that tactically, Hitler and his followers combined their long-term goals with short-term flexibility. In the case of the Reichstag Fire, for example, while they probably didn't set it, the Nazis saw an opportunity to create a state of emergency and abolish democracy faster than planned, and they seized it.

Similarly, while I think it's obvious attack plans were underway well before the 9/11 anniversary, as word of the movie leaked out, some organizers saw a chance to maximize their scope, and jumped on it.

In any case, as Anthony says, that more preparations--than, well, none at all--weren't taken, in light of the warnings the Administration was getting a good three months out, is unbelievable.

BevfromNYC said...

It wasn't just "a bad idea" or "terrible", it is was egregiously negligent to the point of being criminally negligent IMHO. And the fact that our OWN President cannot muster enough of spine to uphold our most precious rights, is just outrageous!

We must be outraged. Anger is warranted here especially in the wake of 9/11 and what we know and should know. Anyone should have known that gloating about killing bin Laden was going to turn out badly because HE wasn't the last and only terrorist standing. And then to blame on some insignificant movie trailer instead ONCE AGAIN NOT owning this huge mistake and standing up and being a Leader with a Spine...grrrrrrrr.

And for some @sshat rap mogul who has his OWN 24/7 armed guards surrounding his gated compound in LA, don't even get me started...I am just too angry and it is compounded by the hour....

EricP said...

Searched, however futilely, to see if Mr. Simmons' shared similar sentiment when Death of a President was released. Guess the killing of George W. Bush in that one wasn't hateful enough.

BevfromNYC said...

EricP - Of course not, because you can also search and find that Bush did not comment on it either. I'm guessing that if Bush had, Simmons would have been full-throatedly upholding the rights of "artists" and the Constitutionally protected right to want to see the President dead...

For whatever people think Bush was, he was not thin-skinned...

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