Many who are aware of how threats are handled against the President of the US as a Class D felony under US Code Title 18, Section 871, wonder if [see story here]: the seller is advocating murder of a duly elected President, or if the seller might claim he is a comedian.
When President Wilson was threatened by a man with these words in writing: “President Wilson ought to be killed. It is a wonder some one has not done it already. If I had an opportunity, I would do it myself.”…and for declaring that “Wilson is a wooden-headed son of a bitch. I wish Wilson was in hell, and if I had the power I would put him there.”
The man was convicted under 18 U.S.C. § 871, and the conviction was sustained.
More conviction came years later and were sustained, such as, one man who began displaying posters in several locales, urging others to seize and “Hang [President] Roosevelt”.
But also, during an interview in 1971, the comedian Groucho Marx said, “I think the only hope this country has is Nixon’s assassination.” That was forty some years ago: U.S. Attorney James L. Browning, Jr. gave his read on Groucho, saying “It is one thing to say that ‘I (or we) will kill Richard Nixon’ when you are the leader of an organization which advocates killing people and overthrowing the Government; it is quite another to utter the words which are attributed to Mr. Marx, an alleged comedian.”
On the serious note of rousing murderous sentiment or action against the President: Threatening the President of the United States is punishable by five to ten years in Federal prison, up to a quarter of a million dollar fine, and 3 years of close supervised probation after.
Today, Internet restrictions go along with conviction– access to email blocked has been ordered on certain offenders who made their threats by computer.
The investigated threats, lightly or deeply, against the lives of Obama and Geo Bush [while he was in office] are between 3000 and 6000 a year.
Some are people simply blathering with or without the help of gin; some are people with real concerns; some are people who are seriously mentally ill but still can brush their teeth and drive a car; some are people who may be a combination of the forementioned, and who intend to rouse others to violence, not doing the deed themselves, but inciting others to do so… ‘inciting, attempting to incite’ a whole other set of words that needs an article of its own. [Stay tuned here.]
When we speak truth or love or death, we are heard by people of reason and also by people of unreason. There is the danger of holding forth loudly for death and damage to others. An unreasoned person is bound to hear and often takes the call to do damage, literally. As we have seen far too many times in our world.
The words and deeds matter, according to the law: For instance, in 2010, a Dallas, Texas man was arrested for allegedly posting to Craigslist, “People, the time has come for revolution. It is time for Obama to die. I am dedicating my life to the death of Obama and every employee of the federal government. As I promised in a previous post, if the health care reform bill passed I would become a terrorist. Today I become a terrorist.”
Also in 2010, a 77-year-old white man named Michael Stephen Bowden, let it be known that President Obama was not doing enough to help African Americans, and was arrested after making murder-suicide threats against Obama.
These are but a very few of those investigated. There is often a ‘closed order’ on threats, meaning they will be dealt with, but not necessarily publicly until or unless there is a conviction.
Oddly many persons who are mentally ill will display with fervor in public, without forethought of consequences, and sometimes actually contacting the FBI to let all know what they intend regarding death or damage to those protected by the Service.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Manual, “Of the individuals who come to the Secret Service’s attention as creating a possible danger to … protectees, approximately 75 percent are mentally ill.”
“These are probably Secret Service’s most serious cases because it must be determined whether the person making the threat really wants to hurt [Secret Service protectees] or whether they may have some medical problems of their own, for which they need help.”
Judges often order psychological evaluations of defendants re United States federal laws governing offenders with mental diseases or ‘defects’.
Often, those who diagnose persons who have made threats against the President, that is most often medical psychiatrists, have three classes of diagnoses:
Class 1 includes persons who have expressed overt threatening statements but have made no overt action
Class 2 comprises individuals who have a history of assaultive behaviors toward authority figures
Class 3 includes person who are considered dangerous and typically have been already prosecuted under Section 871.
Then there’s the fourth unspoken class: the comedian.
For the fellow[s] making, advertising, and selling ‘torsos’ of President Obama to be shot that bleed red something or other as pretend blood … perhaps he too has a portfolio of comedy shows on local cable where he lives– to show he is ‘an alleged comedian’ too.
the image maybe called, ‘look, he’s smiling, he’s not really dangerous.’