Can you imagine what the outcry would be if @SnoopDogg, failing career and all, had aimed and fired the gun at President Obama? Jail time!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 15, 2017
I am no fan of rap. I despise rap for many reasons of which the glorification of a criminal life style is one, but I am a big fan of constitutionally limited government and the freedom to engage in artistic expression no matter how grotesque the expression may be. The latter is protected by the first amendment of which the former should not violate.
The video in question doesn’t even depict Snoop Dogg assassinating Trump. The video shows him firing a bang flag gun at the Trump impersonator, and the following scene shows the Trump impersonator tied up with a chain, implying that he was not assassinated in the video. Of course, Trumpbot hacks like Mark Dice, a professional shock jock, cut the rest of the scene and only showed the flash of the toy gun before descending into an incoherent diatribe about the 2 second clip.
Even if Snoop Dogg had advocated violence against the President, which it is not clear he did given that the Trump impersonator was not shown dead, it would still be protected by the first amendment. Music videos are recognized as Symbolic speech under Stromberg v. California, which first recognized non-verbal gestures as a form of speech. Furthermore, the ruling in a case concerning the advocacy of violence, Brandenburg v. Ohio, protects the advocation of violence and criminal behavior under the first amendment, except when it incites imminent violence or is likely too do so. Since Snoop Dogg did not explicitly tell people to assassinate Trump and his music video will not likely cause Trump to be assassinated, it logically and inescapably follows that his music video is protected by the first amendment.
Freedoms of speech and press do not permit a State to forbid advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.
When arguing about whether an action should be legally permitted, the argument should not be contingent on whether it is already legally permitted, but whether it should be legally permitted. Moral law, the law of equal freedom, is independent of and superior to the laws of nation states. We can only have constitutionally limited government if we start from the premise that the role of government is to be an agent of justice not an inventor of justice, since absolutism logically follows from the latter. Advocating violence in a music video may be reprehensible, but it does not violate the law of equal freedom. Snoop Dogg did not aggress against Trump’s person or property nor did he clearly incite others to do so, nor was violence against Trump’s person or property imminent. Thus, while his actions may have been imprudent and tasteless they were not unjust. However, the feds would violate moral law if it imprisoned Snoop Dogg for making the video.