Rapper Facing Life in Prison for Album Lyrics and Cover Art

When he was asked about a rapper facing life in prison, the deputy district attorney, Anthony Campagna, pointed out that, on the album cover, “there is a revolver with bullets.”

tiny doo no safety

I hate lots of violent and degrading music. But the idea that someone should spend his life in prison for it is nuts!

And it is illegal. Like it or not, the Constitution forbids it.

When I saw the headline, I assumed that the man had crossed the line and actually threatened somebody. That would indeed be a criminal offense, though people who have committed real murders have served less time!

But I don’t see any evidence of threats.

[See also, “Thank God for Armed African Americans!]

According to a Breitbart.com story (from which I also got Campagna’s album-cover remark, above),

Like countless artists before him, San Diego-based rapper Brandon Duncan’s new album features a picture of a gun and bullets on its front cover. However Duncan, who raps under the name Tiny Doo, could be the first artist to go to jail for his choice of album art.

Duncan faces 25-years-to-life on gang conspiracy charges brought against him this week, according to the Los Angeles Times. Prosecutors will reportedly look to prove that the album art “willfully promotes, furthers, or assists in any felonious criminal conduct by members of that gang.”

The District Attorney claims these charges are real because Duncan is a “documented” gang member—on the basis of charges in 2008 that were dropped. Duncan, whatever kind of lowlife he may be, is judicially innocent. He has no criminal record.

And, in point of fact, no one seems to be claiming that the album actually makes threats or really advocates murder. If there was some, uh, “smoking gun” in the album, I would expect the DA to mention it rather than that horrific accusation that there is a gun on the cover.

“It’s shocking,” [Duncan’s defense attorney, Brian ]Watkins told CounterCurrentNews. “He has no criminal record. Nothing in his lyrics say ‘go out and commit a crime.’ Nothing in his lyrics reference these shootings, yet they are holding him liable for conspiracy. There are huge constitutional issues.”

Did the album inspire any shootings? For all we know gangsters listen to all kinds of music while getting revved up to commit homicides. Watkins pointed out one obvious case. As reported in the L. A. Times:

“If we are trying to criminalize artistic expression, what’s next, Brian De Palma and Al Pacino?” Watkins said after visiting with his client in county jail.

 “Every drug gangster loves ‘Scarface.’ Does it encourage violence?” asked Watkins, a reference to the 1983 movie directed by De Palma and starring Pacino.

Based on second-hand information I hate Scarface and would be happy if it had never been made. But I don’t want Al Pacino facing twenty-five-to-life for it.

Actually, if they are going to torture less important people like Duncan then I do want to see him facing charges. That is what is so insidious. The D.A. has picked a no-name to go after. Al Pacino is never going to see the inside of a jail cell and everyone knows it.

In fact, when you look at how this case is being tried, you realize that the D.A. might well win a victory.

Trial is set to begin Dec. 4. Duncan remains in jail in lieu of $1-million bail.

So they set bail at an amount that Duncan cannot afford. How long can the District Attorney delay trial on various excuses? As jail time becomes more and more onerous, the D.A. can start offering him plea deals.

If Duncan can be tormented into pleading out, they will have turned an unconstitutional law into a victory that will not be reviewed by the Supreme Court until some other case is tried.