First Amendment wins a round at Quorum Court | Arkansas Blog

First Amendment wins a round at Quorum Court

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WHAT'S ART WITHOUT A LITTLE VIOLENCE? Remember the gangs in "West Side Story"?
  • WHAT'S ART WITHOUT A LITTLE VIOLENCE? Remember the gangs in "West Side Story"?
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports robust debate before the Pulaski County Quorum Court, the county governing body, approved last night a neutered resolution by JP Judy Green that had originally urged cities to impose a 180-day moratorium on entertainment that encourages violence.

Many spoke on the unconstitutionality, not to mention impossibility, of attempting to impose government limits on artistic expression. In the end, the resolution was amended to simply encourage "civil discourse." Green said she was happy to have gotten the attention given the issue, which arose from the recent mass shooting during a rap show at a downtown club.

I had been inclined to put this exercise down as a waste of time, but perhaps not. There was civil and informed discourse, including the suggestion that the root cause of violence in the city is not rap music. Rap music may only be one of many outgrowths. Rapper SeanFresh made that point last night in talking about black men growing up without fathers and how the number of black men in prison outnumber those in college.

"What they're rapping about is what they see in their community. So you got to see why they're rapping about it. ... The reason they have so many details and know what they're talking about is that they're actually living that life," West said. "Most people are rapping about their surroundings, so they shouldn't change the music; they should change the surroundings."

Kudos to Little Rock City Attorney Tom Carpenter for using Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" as metaphor for gang violence to illustrate the difficulty of legislating limits on expression.


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