The 2012 race for US President was a contentious one. According to The New York Times, independent groups spent at least $522 million on (mostly attack) ads. With that kind of money at stake tied to (seemingly) polar opposite ideologies, tensions were high and still are. Many Romney supporters are devastated that their candidate lost, a fact that has been milked for comedic effect on an anonymous blog that I wrote about last week. Using humor is a way for people to blow off steam — a safe one — and it should be encouraged by people on both sides of the aisle.
What is unacceptable, though, is calling for the death of the President. And so far at least three Americans are under investigation for doing such a thing: a billionaire teen who posted “Kill Obama” on Twitter and Instagram, an unknown vandal who sprayed the same thing on a home in Colorado, and a 22-year-old California woman who used Facebook to call the President a n*gger and contemplate his assassination.
I know, I know. Free speech. We all use the first amendment as a defense for the sometimes awful things we sometimes say. And what one person sees as harmless, another person sees as highly offensive. So I’m not saying people shouldn’t legally be allowed to express themselves, but at what point does enough become enough? The Secret Service takes these threats to the President seriously enough that these types of outbursts are usually investigated. However, as noted in the Aspen Times, “the Supreme Court has held that statements of political protest, that are not intended to (or are not reasonably understood as) conveying a serious threat — one that would cause reasonable apprehension in the target of the threat — are not subject to criminal punishment.”
Indeed, they shouldn’t be. But shouldn’t we be able to police our own emotions enough to say anything else but “kill the President?” How about “Obama sucks donkey balls?” “Obama stinks worse than a trash-filled black neighborhood ignored by the city after Sandy.” “Obama’s so stupid, he thinks your mama’s disease-free!” There are plenty of other ways to be creative and express yourself, disgruntled citizens of America!
Here’s some more detail on each of the incidents mentioned above:
Who: Peter Brant II
Occupation: Billionaire teen, son of model Stephanie Seymour. (Remember when they were caught cuddling on the beach and everyone thought it was strange, then he told the press he was gay?)
What: Responded to a tweet about Obama making rich people “poor” by saying, “I have a contingency plan. Kill Obama hahaha,” then posted that tweet on Instagram.
What’s happened since: It’s unclear if Brandt was visited by the Secret Service (yeah, see, the 1% has it so hard!), but Brandt’s parents issued a statement Friday saying:
Stephanie and I are deeply troubled and upset by our son Peter’s posts on Instagram and Twitter after the election. Even though his intentions were in jest, he is responsible for his written words and should have been more careful about how his comments may have been construed. The comments that were made are not politically or morally representative of our family or our values. Each member of our entire family believes that Peter should have serious consequences for embarrassing himself and his family and we plan on implementing these. We all love Peter very much and recognize who he is as an individual but we won’t tolerate this kind of behavior toward others. We hope that he learns from this serious mistake, matures, and goes on to make himself and his family proud.
And then they took his seven cars away, right? Right?!
Who: Lee Mulcahy, age unknown
Occupation: Artist, Tea Party member, Occupy Aspen member
What: The phrase “Kill Obama” was spray painted on the side of his house, but he says he didn’t do it.
What’s happened since: Mulcahy was visited by local law enforcement and the Secret Service, and while they were there, Mulcahy painted over the message. Nearby residents had complained they didn’t want their kids seeing the message.
Source: Aspen Times
Who: Denise Helms, 22
Occupation: Employee at Cold Stone Creamery, fired as a result of her Facebook rant
What: Posted “Another 4 years of this (N-word). Maybe he will get assassinated this term.”
What’s happened since:
Learn more about Carolyn at her blog.
More from Carolyn on Babble: