Maurice Gattison, head of the Irvington police union in Irvington, New Jersey is being investigated, along with three other township police officers, for the video “Temper Like An Alcoholic.”
The video features Gattison as “Gat the Great” using an anti-gay epithet (faggot) as he raps about crime, drinking and shooting his rivals: “True confession, I’m a felon for life. Don’t make me fruit cup your melon tonight.”
Sparking debate over free speech, the situation brings to light whether officers are governed by the same rules of behavior both on and off duty.
God Des, of lesbian hip hop duo, God Des and She responded, “If this were a racial slur it wouldn’t even be a topic of conversation: he would have gotten fired. And sadly, we live in a society where it is still politically correct to be blatantly homophobic.”
Irvington Township Attorney Marvin Braker said that although he was concerned by Gattison’s lyrics, the song could be protected under the First Amendment as free speech.
Gattison himself seems not to understand why it has become such an issue, as he’s been rapping for years. He also says he lives the lifestyle as he works in narcotics, so he dresses and acts the part.
Deadlee, out gay rapper in Los Angeles says, “I think anyone who is in the position of Gattison – to protect and serve the public – shouldn’t be rapping about being a felon himself.”
He told 429Magazine that this results from hate and violent speech, and that fitting in is no excuse when you are a community leader.
“We uphold their conduct to higher standards, so don’t just fit in,” Deadlee says. “He can be a rapper, but rap about positive things to bring change to your community!”
The question remains, however, whether Gattison broke department rules or not.