Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Et tu, Eminem?

Has our desire to be entertained become so great that we now expect our court rulings to be handed down in the insipid doggerel so endearing to the hip-hop crowd?

Although our legal system leaves much to be desired and on occasion fails us miserably, there was always an effort to try and maintain some sense of decorum when judgment was passed. This is apparently now passé with a recent court case involving America's favorite misogynistic mayhem meister, Eminem, or Marshall Mathers III as he is known to his mother.

It seems Mr. Mathers' gutter rhymes landed him in court in regards to a charge of defamation of a Mr. Deangelo Bailey who, according to the song (and I use that term loosely indeed) entitled "Brain Damage", used to give Mathers a daily thrashing. While I might be inclined, as was the judge, to side in favor of Eminem's right to free speech, I think Mr. Bailey might be deserving of some sort of commendation. (For beating the little creep, that is.)

Macomb County Circuit Judge Deborah Servitto's in two forms: as a 14-page brief for the lawyers and as a rap rhyme for the fans of the defendant. Servitto wrote that she penned the rap so that her decision could be read in "a universally understandable format."

The idea for the rap ruling was Servitto's, said Annette Lupo, the judge's secretary. Two aides at the court's law library helped write the lyrics and Servitto signed off on them, Lupo said. The ruling - that is the rap - was a hit with the court. Judges, clerks, bailiffs, attorneys and Hollywood wanted to see the song. The judge received calls from cable channels MTV and CNN and the TV program "Celebrity Justice."

Perhaps I'm being a bit wistful when I want my judges to serious, reflective and just in their treatment of proceedings in both the civil and criminal realm. While I might give Judge Servitto and her staff's humorous musings an "A" for light verse, I am not so sure she has done the beleaguered justice system any favors by pandering to the lowest common denominator.

Excerpts from Macomb County Circuit Judge Deborah Servitto's rap in Deangelo Bailey v. Marshall Mathers III (Eminem's birth name):

Mr. Bailey complains that his rep is trash

So he's seeking compensation in the form of cash.

Bailey thinks he's entitled to some monetary gain

Because Eminem used his name in vain.

Eminem says Bailey used to throw him around

Beat him up in the john, shoved his face in the ground.

Eminem contends that his rap is protected

By the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.

Eminem maintains that the story is true

And that Bailey beat him black and blue.

In the alternative he states that the story is phony

And a reasonable person would think it's baloney.

The court must always balance the rights

Of a defendant and one placed in a false light.

If the plaintiff presents no question of fact

To dismiss is the only acceptable act.

If the language used is anything but pleasin'

It must be highly objectionable to a person of reason.

Even if objectionable and causing offense

Self-help is the first line of defense.

Yet when Bailey actually spoke to the press

what do you think he didn't address?

Those false-light charges that so disturbed

Prompted from Bailey not a single word.

So highly objectionable, it could not be

-- Bailey was happy to hear his name on a CD.

Bailey also admitted he was a bully in youth

Which makes what Marshall said substantial truth.

This doctrine is a defense well known

And renders Bailey's case substantially blown.

The lyrics are stories no one would take as fact

They're an exaggeration of a childish act.

Any reasonable person could clearly see

That the lyrics could only be hyperbole.

It is therefore this court's ultimate position

That Eminem is entitled to summary disposition.


Post a Comment

<< Home