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.