Should Teen Michael Schmitt Be Locked Up For SoundCloud Track?

Should Michael Schmitt be let go or did his lyrics present a realistic threat?

An 18-year-old from New Jersey faces up to a decade in prison for what police say was a school shooting threat, and what he says was just a song on SoundCloud.

Michael Schmitt used to attend James Caldwell High School in West Caldwell, New Jersey, but he’d been placed into a homeschool program after consistent disciplinary issues. He’d been suspended multiple times, including once for testing positive for THC. Then, in February 2018, he posted a rap song to his Soundcloud account with the title: “u lil sluts @jchs i love you all even tho y’all hurt me and i forgive you. i would never hurt u”.

The song featured crude lyrics like “you can suck my dick” and “you’re gonna get cracked on the head like an egg, bitch.” He posted the song on Snapchat and Twitter, where it was seen by a JCHS student, who listened to the song and saw Schmitt’s profile photo on SoundCloud where he appears to be pointing a gun at the camera. That student told a parent, who then told a teacher, who then called the police. That afternoon, James Caldwell High School was put on lockdown and Michael Schmitt was arrested.

In a new Buzzfeed profile, Michael Schmitt says he’s a misunderstood kid who never had any intention of causing violence at the school. He said: “It’s scary to me that I’m being associated with [school shootings] because of this rap song.”

But JCHS principal Jim Devlin stands by the school’s decision to call the police. He said:

“A student associated with our school put a violent song on SoundCloud, which references killing somebody…and posts a picture of him with a gun, and made a connection to girls at our school. If you put all of that together, it does seem pretty threatening. At that point it’s not my job to say, Is it credible? Is it not? We have to protect our students and families.”

A lot of this comes down to the title of the track, which refers to “u lil sluts.” Schmitt says he calls his male friends “sluts,” and that he wasn’t targeting any girls at the school who might have scorned him. Nevertheless, some female students still felt threatened, and the family of a female student even successfully got a restraining order against Schmitt for “terroristic threats and cyber harassment.”

In a court hearing, prosecutors made the case that the violent nature of Schmitt’s lyrics, especially in light of the national climate surrounding school shootings, gave adequate cause for alarm. It makes sense that schools would be on heightened alerts for these kinds of threats.

Due to this, Schmitt’s life has been genuinely affected. He lost his job as a package handler for UPS, and he says that, even if the charges against him are dropped, he doesn’t have a life waiting for him in his hometown.

So this brings up a question; what constitutes a threat and what is just artistic expression?

What do you guys think? Should Michael Schmitt be let go or did his lyrics present a realistic threat? Let us know in the comments, or on Twitter at @WhatsTrending.