An Exodus fan who was charged with a terrorist offence after posting lyrics on Facebook has described his ordeal as "surreal."
James Evans from Kentucky, USA, quoted a line from the Exodus song Class Dismissed (A Hate Primer) on his Facebook page on August 24 of this year. He wrote: “Student bodies lying dead in the halls, a blood splattered treatise of hate. Class dismissed is my hypothesis, gun fire ends in debate.”
Two days later, after a member of the public reported him to police, 31-year-old Evans was arrested and eventually charged with the felony ‘terrorist threatenings’ and faced between five and 10 years behind bars.
He tells Billboard: “It’s surreal, I didn’t think anything would come of it. I couldn’t believe it got that out of hand.”
Shortly after his arrest, Exodus guitarist Gary Holt said in a statement: “Exodus does not promote or condone terrorists, threats or bullying. James Evans was simply posting lyrics to a band he likes on Facebook, and he was locked up for it. The song Class Dismissed (A Hate Primer) was written as a view through the eyes of a madman and in no way endorses that kind of fucked up behaviour.
“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.”
Evans, who has a wife and an infant son, has had his case deferred for six months for him to undergo a court-ordered mental assessment, for which he has not yet been given a date. He has been told that so long as he complies with the resulting report, the charges will be dropped and erased from his record.
He says: “They can watch all day. I don’t do anything wrong. I pretty much work and come home. That’s it.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky says it will represent Evans in court. Executive director Michael Aldridge says: “The First Amendment exists to protect people from government censorship of unpopular, but otherwise lawful, speech. There is no greater threat to our ability to exercise that right than to be thrown in jail for doing so.
“We look forward to mounting a vigorous defence on Mr Evans’ behalf, and in ensuring that his, and all Kentuckians’, First Amendment rights are protected.”