Thursday, April 19, 2012

Put Nugent in jail. He can share a cell with Markos Moulitsas.

Here's an interesting discussion on whether Ted Nugent can be sent to jail. I think it has been established beyond reasonable doubt that this creep has made death threats against Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. There is indeed a law against that.

The same law should have applied to an internet commenter named Walter Bagdasarian who had published death threats against Obama in 2008. He was allowed to go free because a court determined that he had not made specific plans to carry out his threat.

By that logic, Charles Manson should go free. He did not personally kill anyone within the Tate and LaBianca households. I'm not entirely sure that we can even say he planned the crimes, at least not in any minute detail. He simply told others to go forth and commit murder.

If the law won't put Nugent in jail, the law needs to be tightened. A court should not demand to see actual written plans; it is enough that he said, in public, that murder should be done. 

In 2008, Daily Kos published comments that explicitly called for the murder of Hillary Clinton. The text was not open to interpretation: These were calls to commit assassination. Markos Moulitsas, owner of Daily Kos, refused to remove the comments. I contacted the Secret Service; they, of course, did nothing.

Both the commenters who wrote those words and Moulitsas himself should have been tried and convicted. (The Secret Service agent who refused to do his job in 2008 is more deserving of disciplinary action than are those horny dolts involved in the Colombian imbroglio.)

The same goes for Keith Olbermann, who made a public call for Hillary's death.

The public is sickened by the evil state of America's political discourse. The things we hear today carry dangers that go far beyond the putative threat posed by someone crying "Fire!" in a theater.

To be honest, I'm not sure that the oft-cited theater scenario would, if put to the test, result in all that much damage. Can anyone point out a real-world example? By contrast, any history book covering the years 1861-65 will give you a real-world example of what may occur if we continue to allow politicians like Ron Paul to advocate secession.

Solving the problem is hardly impossible.

First, we need stricter laws which will punish people who call for violence against public figures. Website moderators, editors, and public event coordinators need to be held responsible for comments made by underlings. The punishment should involve jail cells, not checkbooks.

Second, the Justice Department should enforce laws already on the books concerning libel. Libel is still a criminal offense; the laws making it so have never been repealed. Custom -- nothing but custom -- has relegated libel disputes to the civil courts.

I offer as an example this screen capture from the previous campaign. This image was taken from a FOX News broadcast at a time when Hillary was ahead. The graphic and the accompanying words were clearly libelous. Castro had, on that occasion, said disparaging words about both Clinton and Obama.

(The image comes from David Brock's book The Fox Effect, which I recommend.)

Candidates and politicians are not going to seek a civil suit when a lie of this sort is told. However, a state attorney general can bring criminal charges. Some states are red; some are blue. Thus, both right and left would be protected from truly egregious political lies of this sort.

Monetary fines, applied to an organization as large as Fox, would be shrugged off as simply the price of doing business. Someone needs to do jail time.

I would have loved to see Markos Moulitsas tossed in the can when he refused to publish the hard evidence refuting his "darkened video" smear against Hillary. I think that some of the birther smears have crossed the line into criminal libel. And yes, I think that some of the 9/11 cranks said libelous things about Bush and Cheney. Libel is libel, whether or not you like the target.

None of the standard defenses against libel work in the case of the Fox smear pictured above. Truth is an absolute defense -- but the truth is not on Fox's side. We're not dealing with fair comment or mere vulgar abuse. It is impossible to claim that a lie of this magnitude does no injury in the context of a political campaign.

Allen West (who backs Nugent) said that 80 members of Congress were, quote, "members of the Communist party," unquote. He later attempted to walk back that claim by offering up a ridiculously expansive definition of the word "communist." But that inane sophistry simply will not do. The man is on video tape saying that his fellow congressmen are members of the official Communist Party -- and, if I recall correctly, there were court cases in the 1950s which established that one cannot make that claim unless it is factual. Should Allen West do time for his remark? Perhaps not, but only because he did not name any names. Had he done so, I would have supported an effort to bring criminal libel charges against the man.

Civilized people must reclaim our national dialogue. Barbarians like Ted Nugent, Roger Ailes and Markos Moulitsas need to be taught some manners. They need to go to prison.
I agree. Putting people in the slam, even for short periods of time, for lying would go a long way in clearing the political smoke.
settled. check Brandenburg v Ohio.
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Brandenburg, to the best of my knowledge, has never been tested against the more recent law forbidding threats to assassinate the president. From Wikipedia:

"In 2007, Purdue University student Vikram Buddhi was convicted of posting messages to Yahoo Finance criticizing the Iraq War and stating, "Call for the assassination of GW Bush" and "Rape and Kill Laura Bush." The defense had argued that the defendant never explicitly threatened anyone."

Unless you can prove to me that Buddhi never went to jail, then I say Brandenburg does not prevent Nugent from going to prison.

Settled indeed!
Thank you Joseph. I too will never get over it.
Jesus. For people who beat their chests about the Constitution, most of what I've read in this blast and the ripples that follow in the comments, fascism appears to be only a jail cell away. Nugent is a song writer and guitar jock. His metaphors may seem real to those armchair critics who want to dispense their various forms of justice, but to those of who give passes to asses, he's an entertainer and a big sock puppet. No biggie there. Instead, it's the critics with your snap judgements who scare us most. Because, unlike you, we know the shadow he casts ais not a real boggie man, just poetic license gone stupid. You can't go around jailin' people for what they say, otherwise someone who takes a dislike to your unqualified outbursts might want to do ill to you, too. Comprende? You do know about how the wheel turns back on those who push it the wrong way? Define free speech and you're grasping for authority, and with that comes responsibility. Is religious hyperbole next? Or, political oratory? Where does censorship end, when you get this apparatus to punish those who speak their mind? Nugent didn't make any overt threats. To say he needs to go jail is hogwash. Maybe he needs to learn a little modesty, but for many like him, I'd say it was too late.
How do you balance Libel Law against First Amendment freedoms?
"Where does censorship end, when you get this apparatus to punish those who speak their mind?"

The apparatus is provided by the U.S. Code. You still haven't explained why it was applied in the case of Vikram Buddhi and not in the case of Nugent.

Actually, I've been researching the Buddhi case. Woah. There's quite a scandal there -- PERHAPS.

In fact, there's some possibility that there's a much bigger Secret Service scandal in that case than in the Colombia business.

If I have time to write, I'll have something major on that.
The sad thing about Nugent is, he'd backtrack and applaud (albeit only privately for fear of confusing his goon fans)if he read Greenwald and the Rolling Stone pieces on Obama's sanctioning of drone bombing innocents in Afpak.
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