In the United States, the Constitution protects our right to freedom of speech. In other countries, this basic right is not always guaranteed. In France, a rapper has learned that his lyrics might have gone too far. His name is Nick Conrad, he’s a self-produced musician who was practically unknown to the French public until he released a new song on YouTube that skyrocketed him into the eyes of the public for all the wrong reasons.
In the song, which Conrad released last year, he calls for white babies to be murdered and white people to be hanged. Now the French rapper is going to trial because of the lyrics in his song. And he was recently found guilty for the incitement of violence and was given a $5,000 fine for his perceived call to action in the song Hang White People.
In the music video, the rapper acts out a kidnapping where he then proceeds to torture and hangs a white man. As you can imagine, a video of this nature would spark outrage regardless of who was the victim and the victimized. But rapper Conrad also was hoping to point out that black people have been treated this way for centuries.
Conrad plans to appeal the decision as he believes it was his right as an artist to share his speech without condemnation from the government.
Conrad denies having any racist attitudes toward white people. Instead, he claims that his song is a criticism of racism and how racism is a system that benefits white people day after day. He also said that it was obvious that his music video was a fictional situation – just like a movie that involves kidnapping. He said that it was designed to shock the audience because it inverted the role of who Conrad considers is usually the victim and who is usually the perpetrator.
Conrad’s lawyer spoke about freedom of speech about the court hearing. He is not satisfied that his client’s rights were upheld.
“The court had a reading of freedom of expression that does not satisfy us.”
The court said that “the permissible limits of freedom of expression are assessed with greater flexibility” because Conrad is a rap musician, which usually pushes the limits on such things. However, they found that “the freedom of artistic creation is, however, not absolute.”
Therefore, they decided that his work was too offensive and decided that he should be convicted.
The video is very gruesome and does depict a lot of violence. Conrad, along with an accomplice, kidnaps a white man, shoot him, and force him to put his jaw on the pavement, before his head is kicked in and he is hanged. It is undoubtedly a violent performance.
In the lyrics of the rap, he wrote: “I go to the nurseries. I kill the white babies. Catch them quick and hang their parents!”
Do you think this rap artist went too far with his work? Or do you believe that all artistic expression should be protected?