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once more, with feeling

Fuck money. I don't rap for dead presidents. I'd rather see the president dead.

There is no mention of Eminem wanting to personally kill the president himself. Which part of that do you not understand?

Furthermore, even if he did say he wanted to kill the president, it's music, people. It's a form of art, which is a form of self expression. Eminem haters, meet free speech. I don't believe you two are acquainted.

Hell, we might as well lock up Suicidal Tendencies. They are potential serial killers: I shot Reagan I shot Sadat...I shot Lennon, I shot the Pope.

Please, get over it. It's about the mad freestylin' skillz, yo.


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Michele Catalano defends Marshall Mathers' latest controversial lyric: F- money. I don't rap for dead presidents. I'd rather see the president dead. There is no... [Read More]


He's not a serial killer, but he shouldn't be saying he wants to see the President dead on his record. I'm not going to do a reprise of the Michael Dukakis rape question, but let's just say if Eminem were telling his millions of fans that he wanted to see a member of your family dead, you'd be upset, and justifiably so. The President's life is in danger already just because of his job. Nobody needs Eminem suggesting that it would be happy if he were killed.

Perhaps the people who are speaking out against Eminem don't understand that "dead presidents" is slang for money.

I understood the lyrics to be a turn of the phrase to emphasize the fact that Eminem does not perform his music just for the money.

Sure, that last part is debatable, but I do think that's what he was conveying.

Or perhaps they haven't read the rest of the lyrics.

Did any of you read the REST OF THE LYRICS before you jumped on the ol' bandwagon?

Eminem: 1 General Public: 0

Yes, it's a play on the words and yes he is saying that he "does not perform his music just for the money". But he's also still clearly saying that he wants to see the President dead. I don't think publicly wishing death on our political enemies is very productive. If the President publicly said he wanted to see Eminem dead, people would quite understandably freak out. If let's say (insert any well known blogger here) went on their page and said "I'd rather see Hillary Clinton dead," you, I, and everybody else on both sides of the blogosphere would land on them with both feet. So why should Eminem get a free pass?

It's just Eminem doing the old Yakov Smirnov bit: "In America, you like to have dead presidents. In Russia, we like to have president dead!" But righteous indignation is always fun too.

Also, Eminem didn't specify which President. He could've meant Gerald Ford. Nor did he specify the President of what. He may harbour ill will toward Thambo Mbecki of South Africa or the president of Interscope records. If I was Jimmy Iovine, I'd be afraid right now.

If I'm not mistaken, a certain Southern Republican told President William Jefferson Clinton that if he came to the Senator's home state, he had best be wearing a bulletproof vest.

I also seem to recall most conservatives saying, "Oh, he didn't mean it THAT way." Yeah, well that was a threat. Song lyrics are song lyrics.

Amazingly, the Senator was not punished in any way for threatening the life of the President of the United States.

That was far more of a specific threat than some song lyric.

"I don't think publicly wishing death on our political enemies is very productive."

Productive in what way? I bet it'll sell records.

"If the President publicly said he wanted to see Eminem dead, people would quite understandably freak out."

Given that the president is not a rapper (or artist of any sort, really) this is apples and oranges. Given that it would be out of character for the President to wish death upon a random citizen, it's apples and oranges. Argument by analogy only works if you can find a good analogy, which you haven't.

I think Mark makes a very good point, Hawkins suffers from Acute Hero Worship, and whether or not Mathers' music is art, or even music, is an individual judgement call. Maybe Mathers thinks so as he writes lyrics like that from his mansion while dreaming up new designs for his clothing line.

"If I'm not mistaken, a certain Southern Republican told President William Jefferson Clinton that if he came to the Senator's home state, he had best be wearing a bulletproof vest."

That was Jesse Helms and he said, "Mr. Clinton better watch out if he comes down here. Hed better have a bodyguard."

Helms was talking how unpopular Clinton was in North Carolina, whereas Eminem in saying that he personally wants to see the President dead. So what Eminem said was arguably worse.

Moreover, I seem to remember a lot of people raising holy hell about what Helms said. It was front page news back then and Helms was also investigated by the Secret Service.

Perhaps the people who are speaking out against Eminem don't understand that "dead presidents" is slang for money.

Maybe the people who keep saying "'dead presidents' is slang for money" don't understand that "I'd rather see the president dead" is slang for "I'd rather see the president dead." ;) You're assuming that "I'd rather see the president dead" is a play on "dead presidents", but the next couple of verses make it clear that the reverse is true; "dead presidents" is the set-up for "see the president dead". Are people honestly arguing that Eminem's point in that song, serious or not, wasn't that Bush should be killed? The Secret Service investigated him for saying "I'd rather see the president dead" and going on to say how it had to be done to "protect ourselves". The "dead presidents" money reference is NOT the issue.

And do keep in mind that Eminem does work in an industry where people have an unfortunate habit of shooting folks they don't like. And he's been arrested, on multiple occasions, for assault and weapons charges.

"But it's just a song!" -- and we know that HOW? Please, tell me, O Wise Ones, O Seers of the Future, how we can know, with perfect certainty, that this was "just art". Because unless you can know, with perfect certainty, that Eminem is in no way serious, I don't see what grounds you have for complaining that the Secret Service investigated a criminal who threatened the President's life. They didn't arrest him, lock him in jail, and fuck him with a broom handle. They INVESTIGATED him. For doing something that was, possibly, illegal. Imagine that... officers of the law investigating criminals. It's amazing, the crazy stuff that happens in John Ashcroft's America. :p

Hi. How ya doin'? Uh, who really cares what he says? Is he someone so important that you you all are devoting so much time and energy into this? Maybe I missed the memo saying Eminem is the guy to take seriously this year.

I'm going to go out on a limb and predict, without even looking at his blog, that John Hawkins did not type a single word when the wife of Maryland's Republican governor said in public that she'd like to shoot Britney Spears. If I am wrong, I'll tip Hawkins -- or the blogger of his choice -- five bucks.

Just checked--my five bucks is safe.

I'm with Dan. The Secret Service has an obligation to investigate (not prosecute, but investigate) any statement that infers a death threat to the President. Regardless of whether that person is an artist or is exercising free speech. It's like arguing that a person in line at airport security joking about bombs is exercising his right to free speech. Sure he is, but that doesn't mean he shouldn't be investigated, and the signs at the airport clearly state that such speech will be taken seriously. Everyone in America knows that a threat to the President, in whatever form, is grounds for investigation. Particularly by someone who, as Dan pointed out, is a criminal.

We cannot let celebrity be a factor at all. OJ beat Nicole several times before her death. Maybe if someone had taken that illegal battery seriously, she would be alive today.

And thinking that Eminem should have been investigated does not automatically make me an Eminem hater.

The rest of the lyrics, despite what Dan seems to think, are not indicative of a desire to kill the president. Download the song and check it out for yourself.

John, you still miss the point. He says "I'd rather see the president dead," with the word rather meaning that an either/or choice exists. Saying that you'd choose to have the president rather than another given option is no way saying you would kill the presidenty yourself. I still don't see how this is a direct threat on Bush's life by Eminem.

Okay, even if it's not a direct threat on the President's life, isn't it better to do a quick little investigation and be 100% sure? Nobody is banning his albums or trampling on his free speech rights. Sure, maybe it's a sign of an overly-paranoid Secret Service, but isn't it better to be too cautious than not cautious enough? There are a LOT of people in the world and in the US who would like to see President Bush dead. Shouldn't we take these things seriously? I mean if we'd done a little more pre-emptive investigation into airline security and paid attention to the pieces, even the small, seemingly insignificant ones, 3,000 people could be still alive today. Why not err on the side of caution, especially if you're not violating anyone's rights by doing so?

Back when Bush was first elected I was staffed on a college paper in which an editorial was written focused on historical coincidences and how they showed Bush might be assasinated. The person who wrote that article was actually taken into custody and questioned. Of course, since he didn't committ a crime nothing happened further, but if you honestly think that Eminem's rights are being violated, or that he isn't really a threat so no one should care, I guess I just have one thing to say: Better safe than sorry.

Actually, I kind of got the story wrong... the editorial was asking Jesus to smite Bush. It happened the semester before I was staffed and people would joke about it, saying the office was bugged.


The line was, "I'd rather see the president dead." That does not necessarily mean Eminem wants the president dead. If I were to say that, "I don't do _______. I'd rather kiss Al Sharpton's ass.", most people would understand that I wasn't offering to kiss Al Sharpton's ass (anyone too stupid to understand that, can kiss my ass).

Rappers say too many things that really are stupid and tasteless to get worked up over this.

Riyadh delenda est!

And Ironically - given the lyric - when I hear that the old shock whore managed to say something that gets attention the first thing I think is:
He wanted some more "dead presidents"

Freestylin' or freebasin'?

I doubt we can take seriously Eminem's contention that he does not sing just for the money. If he were not inordinately greedy for the big bucks he can get for his effusions he would be too embarrassed to make public the schweinesdreck he puts out.

Doesn't much matter what we think of it. That notoriously humerless bunch at the Secret Service will decide what they think of it and proceed accordingly.
I'm not all that interested in what young Mr. Mather has to say, I can't hardly understand the lyrics, such as they are, anyway. The ones I do understand are rather troubling to this father of a daughter. He'd trouble me more, though, if I didn't know that he's unlikely to be around too long. He's deliberately chosen a lifestyle and line of work with the approximate life expectency of a Mayfly.

I wouldn't call Eminem's stuff art, or at least not good art. Still, this doesn't rise to the level of threat. There's clearly no imminent danger nor is he inciting people to kill the president.

But free speech works both ways. He's free to cash in with lyrics like this and people are free to condemn him for these lyrics.

But James, it's not about art -- it's about whether someone has the right to express a wish that the President of the United States die without receiving a visit from guys in black suits asking Lots of Questions.

For my money, given the extreme danger of the job of President of United States -- you stand a pretty good chance of dying in office or getting shot at -- it seems worthwhile to me to have a policy of investigating anything like this. Freedom of speech is designed to keep political conversation and ideas flourishing and to keep a certain tension in the system. Incitement to riot doesn't qualify.

For my money, given the extreme danger of the job of President of United States -- you stand a pretty good chance of dying in office or getting shot at . . .

Number of men who have served as president: 42
Number who have been shot and killed: 4
Chance of being shot and killed while serving as president: 9.5%
Number of presidents who have been fired on without being killed: 5
Chance of having a nonfatal gun incident while serving as president: 11.9%
Number of presidents who have died in office of other causes: 5
Chance of dying in office of a non-gun related incident: 11.9%

Sure, people buy lottery tickets at much lower odds, but I still wouldn't classify them as "pretty good odds."

("Dying in office" is irrelevant anyway, as your chances of dying of a natural cause and your chance of serving as president are independent variables. Did some crazed citizen inflict a cerebral hemorrhage on FDR?)

on reading this most recent blabbering from Mnum, i yawned. coincidence?

"I'd rather see the president dead"

I keep looking for the word kill, murder, something, ANYTHING that says that Emininem wants to kill ANY President, let alone Bush.

Nope, it's just not there.

Umm, could we maybe get Marshall Mathers investigated for being such an annoying little dweeb? Now THAT would be worthwhile.

I posted this in comments below, but I'll repeat it here: My understanding of the Secret Service policy is that they investigate EVERY threat to the President that is called to their attention. If they didn't, they would be in the position of picking and choosing which threats to take seriously and investigate. Once you're down the road in discretion-land, charges of racism, religious persecution, political persecution, etc. follow. It is easier from a public policy perspective to have Secret Service agents go interview Eminem, go back to DC and write a report about how he is not a threat, than to try and dodge the PC-police about who they're investigating.