Artist News Legal

Shetland man fined for singing along to Wu-Tang Clan n-word containing lyrics

By | Published on Tuesday 9 August 2022

Wu-Tang Clan

A man on the Shetland Islands in Scotland has been fined £500 after being found guilty of a breach of the peace, mainly as a result of him singing along to a Wu-Tang Clan track that included the n-word in its lyrics.

Kyle Siegel admitted to the court that he conducted himself in a “disorderly manner” one night back in February during a birthday party at the Scalloway Boating Club, when he entered the club’s female toilets and sang along to a TikTik video that featured Wu-Tang’s ‘Protect Ya Neck’.

That conduct could possibly have been considered disorderly whatever song he sang, but it was his reciting of the ‘Protect Ya Neck’ lyrics that include the n-word that escalated things on the night, with a mixed race women who was using one of the cubicles in the female toilets taking particular offence, resulting in an argument.

On one level, the case raises the interesting question of whether white people like Siegel using racial slurs when reciting lyrics written by black artists should be deemed as offensive as if those words were used in isolation.

And if such uses of those slurs are considered offensive – and therefore those lyrics should never be spoken aloud by white fans of those black artists – well, is that breaching the freedom of expression of the fan, or even the artist?

Yeah, debate that why don’t you? Although maybe this presumably drunken altercation isn’t an appropriate justification to instigate such a debate. The Sheriff Court in the Shetland town of Lerwick heard that Siegel accepted that “he crossed the line” during the February incident, but that he insisted that he didn’t mean any harm.

And so he was fined £500 for the offence and ordered to pay an additional victim surcharge of £20.