Monday, April 26, 2010

Hip Hop as a Military Crime?

Specialist Marc Hall, a soldier in the 3rd Infantry Division, was jailed in December 2009 for writing and recording a hip-hop song that allegedly made threatening comments in connection with his commanding officers. The song, entitled “Stop-Loss,” what the military terms its policy of holding service members past their contracted enlistment dates, included the lyrics "round up all eventually, easily, walk right up peacefully" and rhymes "up against the wall, turn around . . . Ready to fire down, spray and watch the bodies all hit the floor." The Army interpreted these lyrics as veiled threats, jailed Hall and intended to court martial him.

"Until April 17, US Army Spc. Marc Hall sat in a military brig at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, facing an imminent court-martial for challenging the US military’s stop-loss policy in a song. Saturday morning, Spc. Hall was granted a discharge by the military." The decision to arrest Hall was curious from the beginning as the arrest was carried out more than five months after Hall mailed a copy of the song to the Pentagon and shared the music with his unit. The military has commented on the case, saying “If a threat is communicated, it needs to be taken seriously.”

The case not only raises questions about freedom of speech but also the military’s treatment of what it deems potentially dangerous soldiers particularly after the tragic shootings by Nidal Hasan at Fort Hood in November 2009. Jim Klimanski, a civilian military lawyer argues that the song, rather than a threat to his commanding officers, is “political hyperbole” and describes the song as “his rant on stop-loss. It's political speech."

The song, which contains graphic lyrics, can be heard here.

1 comment:

  1. Soldier's aren't allowed political speech. Period. They give up the right to express those opinions as long as they are in the military. They can vote, but that's about it


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