Ice-T: Cop Killer

English 120
Professor Flynn
October 14, 2015
Don’t Blame the Artist

In 1992, Warner Bros. Records released Body Count, a new album by Los Angeles-based rap artist Ice-T [Tracy Morrow]. The rap artist has received continuous criticism for his song “Cop Killer”, being that the music presented a hardcore violent image. Because of this, there is a controversy between censorship and a U.S. citizen’s right to free speech and artistic freedom. Because the song was released in the same year as the L.A. riots, suspicion rose that “Cop Killer” was the cause this rebellion against authority. These public disturbances in L.A. included a series of riots, lootings, and arsons, following the acquittal of four police officers on trial regarding police brutality of an african american man, Rodney King. The police used their power and extensive force was used against King. He was tasered, struck with batons repeatedly, cuffed, kicked, and beaten while lying powerless on the asphalt. The riots occurred directly after the Rodney King incident and resulted in over one billion dollars damage, 53 fatalities, and 2000 injured citizens. False accusations have been made that “Cop Killer” was the cause of the riots. Ice-T has been called a seditionist for the portrayal of his views about police brutality, specifically the King incident. Most believe the song should be censored, but freedom of expression is the most important and well known right we have as citizens. Built into the constitution as the first amendment, it reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” Songs like “Cop Killer” should be protected as free speech and artistic freedom under the rights in the first amendment.
Michael Kinsley, in his article, “Ice-T: Is the Issue Social...