SHARE
Via YouTube

Rapper Snoop Dogg hit a joint and then shot clown Pres­ident “Ronald Klump” in his music video “Lavender” (Nightfall Remix), in response to Klump’s order to “deport all doggs.” Klump appears seconds later in chains, sur­rounded by a gang of armed clowns, dogs, and cars in a hazy parking lot. Klump reaches for a joint being passed by Snoop to director Jesse Wellens but is rejected, and almost back­handed by Wellens.

“Can you imagine what the outcry would be if @SnoopDogg, failing career and all, had aimed and fired the gun at Pres­ident Obama? Jail time!” Pres­ident Trump tweeted to his 16.7 million fol­lowers.

Snoop uses a clown world to target grave social issues in America and to list his griev­ances with Trump: his election, police mil­i­ta­rization and bru­tality, his travel ban, and up to 30-year sen­tencing for mar­i­juana. Snoop calls his lis­teners to stand up against social issues, to peace­fully exercise first amendment rights through events like his March on the LAPD police department after the Dallas sniper shootings. Snoop’s chorus ref­er­ences a Holo­caust doc­u­mentary, “Night Will Fall”, that warns if the world doesn’t learn from the past, the night will fall, and people will con­tinue to die.

“I feel like a lot of people making cool records, having fun, par­tying, but no one out here is dealing with the real issue, with this f***in’ clown as pres­ident, and the s*** that we dealing with out here,” said Dogg.

Actor Michael Rapaport played one clown in the video. Sitting with his two young clown children, he eats cooked peanuts for breakfast, a reminder of the overdue bills lining the kitchen. Rapaport gets into his car and begins smoking a joint, only to be pulled over and shot twice by a clown cop who saw one of the young children’s toy gun in Rappaport’s suitcase. A teenager films the shooting and sends it to the news outlet — crit­i­cizing that police body cameras film shootings that mil­lions watch on tele­vision, but little seems to have changed.

Snoop ref­er­ences Phi­lando Castile, an African-American with no criminal record whose July traffic stop shooting was Facebook live-streamed by his girl­friend, while their 4-year old daughter sat in the back. Police said Castile was shot seven times for car­rying an unloaded, legal weapon. In the lyrics, Snoop calls for repa­ra­tions, “now it ain’t so fun when the rabbit got the gun.”

Snoop is just one of many to use satire to high­light social issues. Trump’s claim Snoop Dogg’s actions would have brought with jail time under Obama is ludi­crous, given the First Amendment pro­tects satire and comedy, as long as a rea­sonable person would not believe the statement was a credible threat. In an essay on the pro­tection of satire and parody in jour­nalism, the Reporter’s Com­mittee for a Free Press, a non­profit that assists jour­nalists, wrote: “sub­jects of even the most biting satire or crit­icism cannot suc­cess­fully sue unless the irrev­erent com­ments contain a provably false fact.”

Fox News per­son­ality Kim­berly Guil­foyle responded to the video saying that Snoop Dogg and Bow Wow, who tweeted in Snoop’s defense and threatened to “pimp” out the first lady, should be “killed” for their state­ments.  

Florida Senator Marco Rubio said that Snoop Dogg should not have mock- shot “Klump” because pres­i­dential assas­si­na­tions hap­pened. Though the 1,092 “shot dead” by police in 2015 alone, as reported by the Guardian, seem a more pressing matter than the four pres­i­dential assas­si­na­tions in America’s history.

Trump is no stranger to the line between comedy and libel; he defended artist Ted Nugent, fea­tured in Trump’s cam­paign ads, who is known for threat­ening vio­lence upon Democrats. In 2012, Nugent said that if Pres­ident Barack Obama won a second term in office, Nugent would “either be dead or in jail by this time next year.” His com­ments, defended by Trump as a “mere figure of speech,”, spurred a Secret Service inves­ti­gation. During a National Rifle Asso­ci­ation meeting in 2015, Nugent also threatened to shoot Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid — crossing the line between of freedom of speech and a credible threat.

Repub­licans crit­icize the left for silencing free speech on college cam­puses and inciting vio­lence against con­tro­versial right-wing speakers like Milo Yiannopoulos or Richard Spencer. But if Trump can’t handle satire from a 45-year-old “failing rapper,” then making America great again may lay out of reach. Snoop said he does not plan to apol­ogize to Trump; he crafted the video to talk about social problems bigger than his video — perhaps Trump should do the same.

To be truly bipar­tisan, American politi­cians, artists, and cit­izens alike need to under­stand and respect free speech, espe­cially when we dis­agree. Vio­lence cannot encroach upon political debate, no matter the party. Snoop wanted to make a song “that was not con­tro­versial, but real — real to the voice of the people who don’t have a voice.”