If you like sharing music with your friends, you may want to leave out any of the mass murder variety. A Kentucky man recently spent 8 days in jail for posting song lyrics from metal band Exodus to his Facebook page. 31-year-old James Evans was apprehended for posting the following gruesome lyrics, which come from the Exodus song, “Class Dismissed (A Hate Primer)”:
“Student bodies lying dead in the halls, a blood splattered treatise of hate
Class dismissed is my hypothesis, gun fire ends in debate.”
Multiple agencies in the county received frightened calls about the Facebook post, and Evans was swiftly arrested for terroristic threatening. The warrant for the arrest stated, “He threatened to kill students and/or staff at school.” Shortly after the story was made public, Exodus issued a statement regarding the incident, expressing that “Exodus does not promote or condone terrorists, threats or bullying.” Gary Holt, the band’s guitarist, went on to share his frustration about the arrest.
“James Evans was simply posting lyrics to a band he likes on Facebook, and he was locked up for it. The song ‘Class Dismissed (A Hate Primer)’ was written as a view through the eyes of a madman and in no way endorses that kind of f**ked up behavior. It was the Virginia Tech massacre perpetrated by Seung-Hui Cho that was the subject and inspiration to write the song, one which we put the brakes on playing live after the Sandy Hook shooting, as we did not want to seem insensitive.”
“When we start to overreact to things like lyrics by any band, including Exodus, and start arresting people, we are caving in to paranoia and are well on our way to becoming an Orwellian society,” he added. Evans’ family told reporters that he is very into music. Friends confirmed that he often posted lyrics and music videos to his Facebook page.
“Whenever we found out that he actually got arrested for lyrics, we were all shocked,” exclaimed his sister, Ashelynn. “We couldn’t believe that you could do that or get in trouble for that. I don’t personally agree with the band or the music but I agree that you should have the choice to listen to it if you want to.”
Evans was released on September 3rd, after spending 8 days in jail. His case has been deferred for 6 months, and he will be forced to undergo a mental evaluation. “It’s nonsense,” he said of the incident. “I feel like my civil rights have been violated… first amendment freedom of speech out the window. Even all the guys I was in the cell with, they thought it was nonsense themselves.”
Evans’ arrest occurred at an interesting time, as the New Jersey Supreme Court just made a ruling on a similar topic last month. Their consensus states that violent rap lyrics are not considered permissible evidence in trials, aside from special circumstances in which the lyrics are closely connected to the case. The presiding judge said of the ruling, “One would not presume that Bob Marley, who wrote the well-known song ‘I Shot the Sheriff,’ actually shot a sheriff.”