WFIE 14 News is reporting that 31-year-old James Evans of Muhlenberg County, Kentucky was arrested on terroristic threatening charges after he posted lyrics from a song by the heavy metal band Exodus on Facebook. On August 24, Evans posted the following quote from the song “Class Dismissed (A Hate Primer)”, “Student bodies lying dead in the halls, a blood splattered treatise of hate. Class dismissed is my hypothesis, gun fire ends in debate.” Shortly thereafter, he was taken into custody by authorities under the rationale that his posting constituted a threat “to kill students and or staff at school,” according to his arrest warrant.
Evans remained in jail for eight days before he was released at a hearing at which his case was deferred for six months. An updated report by WFIE 14 News notes that Evans will be required to undergo a mental evaluation.
It is unclear exactly which school that officials believe the 31-year-old was targeting with his verbatim posting of heavy metal lyrics online, but Muhlenberg County school resource officer Mike Drake claimed that multiple government agencies received warnings about the Facebook status.
Ashelynn Evans, James Evans’ sister, told WFIE 14 News, “Whenever we found out that he actually got arrested for lyrics, we were all shocked. We couldn’t believe that you could do that or get in trouble for that. I don’t personally agree with the band or the music but I agree that you should have the choice to listen to it if you want to.”
After his release, James Evans said, “It’s nonsense. I feel like my civil rights have been violated. You know first amendment freedom of speech out the window. Even all the guys I was in the cell with they thought it was nonsense themselves. I had several officials tell me it was nonsense, that there was no reason why I should have even been here.” An avid heavy metal fan, Evans frequently posted various song lyrics on Facebook prior to his arrest.
Exodus’ management commented on the issue in a press release, saying, “The band Exodus does not promote or condone terrorists, threats or bullying. That being said, the band is somewhat baffled by the fact that this man being charged for what seems against his first amendment rights of Freedom of Speech.”
The heavy metal music site Loudwire quoted additional comments by Exodus guitarist Gary Holt, who said, “The idea that an individual in this great country of ours could be arrested for simply posting lyrics to a song is something I never believed could happen in a free society. James Evans was simply posting lyrics to a band he likes on Facebook, and he was locked up for it… It was the Virginia Tech massacre perpetrated by Seung-Hui Cho that was the subject and inspiration to write the song, one in which we put the brakes on playing it live after the Sandy Hook shooting, as we did not want to seem insensitive.”
Gary Holt continued, “As some of us in Exodus are parents, of course these things hit close to home, it’s every parent’s worst fear. These moments are the stuff of nightmares, and life, as well as music, isn’t always pretty. But when we start to overreact to things like lyrics by any band, including Exodus, and start arresting people, we are caving in to paranoia and are well on our way to becoming an Orwellian society.”