Ark. high court rules song was ‘true threat’

ARKANSAS — Basing its decision on an earlier Arkansas case, the state supreme court in January ruled that a Fayetteville High School student’s rap lyrics constituted a “true threat” of physical violence, upholding a juvenile court’s criminal conviction of the student.

Fayetteville student Blake Jones was charged with terroristic threatening, a felony, after his former friend Allison Arnold said she felt threatened by violent rap lyrics he had written and given her.

Blake’s lyrics – styled after those of rapper Eminem – presented a true threat to Arnold, the court decided, because they were specifically written about and delivered to her. This contrasts with an earlier case, Doe v. Pulaski County Special School District, where lyrics written at home by student Josh Mahan only made it to Mahan’s friend because they were stolen and delivered to her.

Justice Robert Brown of the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that Arnold was “intensely frightened and upset” by the threat and believed Jones might carry it out because he had a criminal record.

Case: Jones v. Arkansas, 64 S.W.3d 728 (Sup. Ct. Ark. 2002)