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Freedom of expression?

Marcus Lütticke /aiJuly 17, 2013

Insults, homophobic rants, calls to violence against politicians - German rapper Bushido's latest song is somewhat controversial. One thing the scandal certainly is good for is record sales.

Bushido (Photo by Patrik Stollarz/Getty Images)
Image: Getty Images

"Stress without reason" is the title of the latest song by German rapper Bushido and it's getting the singer into quite a lot of stress, possibly even before the courts. Berlin's openly gay mayor Klaus Wowereit and member of parliament Serkan Tören have filed a lawsuit against Bushido.

The reason: Bushido raps with vulgar lyrics about Wowereit's homosexuality. Further into the song, it says: "I want Sekran Tören to bite into grass" which in German is an expression of someone dying. The words are followed by the distinct sound of two gun shots. Tören is the integration spokesman for Germany's Free Democratic Party, junior coalition partners to Angela Merkel's conservatives.

Also the party chief of Germany's Green party is being targeted in the song. "I shoot at Claudia Roth, and she'll have holes like a golf course."

Freedom of expression

Serkan Tören MdB
Tören warns freedom of expression is not an excuse to propagate hatredImage: FDP

Artistic freedom or breaking the law? For Serkan Tören, Bushido's song has nothing to do with art. "Calling for violence, calling for murder and for an attack against minorities is over stepping the mark;" Tören says. "Just imagine anyone in future could use art as a cloak to just do anything or insult anyone. That's just not possible!"

Why it is that he has become a target of Bushido's hatred, one can only guess. Months ago he called for Bushido to give back the Bambi award he received from a publishing house for his contribution to integration efforts. Tören was not the only one to disagree with that award, for a long time it had been known that Bushido had close ties with organized crime in Berlin.

Good for business

Claudia Roth however does not want to litigate. But she too is upset that "someone who claims to be an artist but doesn't have good record sales or concert attendances anymore, seems to believe that calling for violence can boost his sales."

German singer Bushido (photo: Michael Kappeler dpa/lhe)
Bushido was criticized for receiving an integration awardImage: picture-alliance/dpa

Music psychologist Gabriele Hofmann of Schwäbisch Gmünd Pedagogical University also believes that the whole scandal might have been planned to boost business for the rapper. "Provocation boosts sales, that's been Bushido's goal all along."

No sign of regret

The rapper himself freely admits that "from the perspective of business, this was great. We are number one on the trends, 1.2 million clicks in under 48 hours," he said in a television interview. There's no sign of regret.

Lawyers don't believe the law suits will lead to anything. Freedom of speech is valued very highly so that the content would have to be extremely violent for the courts to rule against him, believes Berlin lawyer Thomas Fels.

Most likely the song will be put on a list of material that shouldn't be available to children and teenagers. This index lists things like books or records that can no longer be sold to people under 18 years of age.

Boosting sales?

Prof. Dr. Gabriele Hofmann
Hofmann suspecs the whole scandal might be a ploy to boost salesImage: Privat

Shindy, Bushido's rap partner, has called upon his fans to therefore be quick in buying the record otherwise it might soon be unavailable - a call that certainly might lead to better sales.

Hoffmann is afraid that the whole scandal will rather bring Bushido new fans than make people turn away from him. "I have checked on the Internet how the fans react to certain things." Bushido here got a lot of confirmation. And "it also reveals further very individual aggressions," she says.