Freedom of expression

Rapper Bushido faces the music for crossing the line

The new music video from Bushido entitled “Stress without reason” has been sharply criticised. In light of the extreme lyrics, many believe the boundary to freedom of speech has been crossed and that the German rapper should face criminal and civil consequences.

Rapper Bushido faces the music for insulting lyrics and publicly inciting crime © arahan-Fotolia

Rapper Bushido faces the music for insulting lyrics and publicly inciting crime © arahan-Fotolia

Bushido’s lyrics

Bushido’s video includes lyrics insulting politicians Claudia Roth (the Greens), Klaus Wowereit (SPD) and Serkan Tören (FDP). The video also repeatedly insults women, emphasises the word “victim” and slanders the concept of free press.

Several websites, including as YouTube, have already banned the video.

Insults are not covered by artistic freedom

While the rapper may attempt to rely on the right to artistic freedom, others will argue that the song significantly exceeds the boundaries of that right.

The limits of freedom of expression can be found in § 185 of the German criminal code (Strafgesetzbuch, StGB) which makes it an offence to insult someone. Claudia Roth and Serkan Tören could both rely on this paragraph to bring criminal proceedings.

It is true that the threshold of what politicians must accept is higher than that of average citizens. The reason for this is that politicians often seek the lime light and publish pointed statements. However, this threshold is crossed when someone is insulted. It is irrelevant that politicians sometimes insult others, as even those statements are technically punishable.

Bushido statements as incitement to murder

There is also the possibility that criminal proceedings could be brought for the video’s public incitement to commit murder (§ 111 StGB). Here, the federal prosecutor has the power to bring proceedings in the public interest and without having received a complaint.

Reaction to Bushido’s video

Speigel.de reports that Klaus Wowereit (SPD) has pressed charges against Bushido, and I can only hope that the other politicians do not take Bushido’s video lightly. At the very least, one would expect Bushido to retract the video and pay compensation.

Testing the boundaries of artistic freedom will always draw the desired attention; but in this case nobody has to stand for it.

Christian Solmecke is a partner at the law firm WILDE BEUGER SOLMECKE. He is the author of numerous legal publications in the area of internet and IT law. He is also an associate lecturer for social media law at the Cologne University of Applied Sciences.

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