Do Actions Speak Louder Than Words?

There’s an old saying that actions speak louder than words. Not if you’re Vonte Skinner. Skinner was convicted in 2008 of shooting and paralyzing Lamont Peterson, a fellow drug crew member, in a dispute over guns and money in Willingboro, New Jersey. At his trial, prosecutors introduced 13 pages of violent rap lyrics Skinner had written as evidence against him.  It didn’t seem to matter that the lyrics were written 5 years before the incident occurred. 

Monday, the New Jersey Supreme Court ordered Skinner a new trial with a pretty fantastic opinion: 

“One would not presume that Bob Marley, who wrote the well-known song ‘I Shot the Sheriff,’ actually shot a sheriff, or that Edgar Allan Poe buried a man beneath his floorboards, as depicted in his short story ‘The Tell-Tale Heart,’ simply because of their respective artistic endeavors on those subjects,” wrote Justice Jaynee LaVecchia in the court’s unanimous opinion.

Good to know creative freedom is safe–otherwise Eminem would also have a lot of explaining to do.

Team Blackness also discussed yet another Stand Your Ground defense in Florida, a Republican candidate who tried on homelessness for a week, and a  billionaire who bought his way out of a jail sentence.

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6 replies
  1. 1
    Mnemosyne says:

    Here’s the wacky thing about Neel Kashkari — he was actually the least crazy Republican who ran in the primary. The other guys were even worse.

  2. 2
    Cervantes says:

    Personally, I have no use for violent lyrics, rap or otherwise.

    But this decision, and the lower-court decision it upholds, both seem right: a new trial, with proper evidence.

    Thanks for the post.

  3. 3
    Sad_Dem says:

    Great to see that much common sense in a ruling!

  4. 4

    It’s a lot easier to be homeless for a week when you know full well that you won’t be homeless the next week. Most people call that some variation of camping. The full force of homelessness isn’t sleeping on the pavement, it’s the pervasive sense of despair that accompanies it – that you’re in a hole you are never going to get out of and will probably die from.

  5. 5
    Scott Alloway says:

    Common sense ruling by the judge. So few and far between.

  6. 6
    Another Holocene Human (now with new computer) says:

    Some murderers actually DO confess in a fictional story …

    AFTER the murder

    Not 5 years earlier

    And occasionally a murderer will write down murder plans or even a fictional story about how hypothetically someone might hypothetically kill his wife and get away with it

    But I’ve never heard of one five years earlier. Or one that had no connection to a crime, just this person wrote violent lyrics. Sounds more like the “defendant plays violent video games! I rest my case!”

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