The Ontario, Canada, attorney general’s office said Monday that it is investigating a Toronto woman’s criminal complaint alleging that Eminem’s lyrics violate the country’s hate-crime law.
If the office agrees with self-proclaimed “media violence” critic Valerie Smith, Eminem could face prison time for performing songs such as “Kim” and “Kill You” onstage at the Toronto SkyDome, where he is scheduled to perform on Thursday along with Limp Bizkit and the rest of the Anger Management Tour.
Smith, who claims that Eminem’s music violates Canada’s “public incitement of hatred” code, filed a complaint with the Toronto Police Hate Crimes Unit on October 4 and called for Ontario’s attorney general to classify Eminem’s work as hate propaganda under sec. 319 of the Canadian Criminal Code.
The hate crimes unit did not return calls on Monday, while a spokesperson for the attorney general said the office would have no comment while the matter is under investigation.
Eminem’s label, Interscope, had no comment on the matter.
Sec. 319 prohibits “communicating statements, other than in private conversation, [that] willfully [promote] hatred against an identifiable group.” In the Canadian code, “identifiable group” refers to color, race, religion or ethnic origin.
While Canada’s hate crimes laws don’t address gender or sexual orientation, Smith claims that another section of the country’s criminal code guarantees women equal protection.
If the attorney general determines Eminem’s lyrics violate Canadian law, the rapper could face up to two years in prison for performing his work in public.
“I know that Americans blanch at [the thought of punishing someone for speech], but it works for us,” Smith said.