Governor Tells High School Students He'd Like To Shoot A Student's Dad; Arrest/Investigation Fail To Ensue

from the hahaha-but-srsly-i-want-to-kill-ur-dad-jk dept

We’ve recently discussed at length the subpoena and gag order issued by the Assistant US Attorney over some tasteless, but innocuous, comments made by Reason readers. Anyone who’s spent any time in comment sections would have seen these comments as nothing more than the internet being the internet — a place where hyperbole and stupidity very often outweighs thought and nuance. The comments are being treated as serious threats by the US government, seeing as they were posted below an article about a federal judge. Here are two of the more “violent” comments:

AgammamonI5.31.15 @ lO:47AMltt
Its judges like these that should be taken out back and shot.

AlanI5.31.15 @ 12:09PMltt
It’s judges like these that will be taken out back and shot.
FTFY.

croakerI6.1.15 @ 11:06AMltt
Why waste ammunition? Wood chippers get the message across clearly. Especially if you
feed them in feet first.

Cloudbusterl6.l.15 @ 2:40PMIIt
Why do it out back? Shoot them out front, on the steps of the courthouse.

And yet, when a prominent political figure says roughly the same thing — TWICE! (possibly) — it’s not followed up by the issuing of subpoenas or government-led investigations.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage’s joke about shooting a political cartoonist is falling flat.

The son of Bangor Daily News cartoonist George Danby said LePage made the remark after he asked what the governor thought of his father’s cartoons Wednesday during an event at Dirigo Boys State, a youth leadership program.

The governor told a crowd of high school students he would like to “shoot” this cartoonist. This was said directly to the cartoonist’s son during a Q&A session with the governor. (Video — albeit silent — of the incident located here.) The Bangor Daily News noted the audience of teens laughed and took it as a joke. And it was, albeit a horrifically tasteless one considering cartoonists have very recently been shot for expressing their views. (That the governor’s joke about shooting someone, delivered at a school event, wasn’t immediately greeted with a swarm of police officers and strongly-worded condemnations by school officials is yet another bit of hypocrisy…)

Cartoonist George Danby — the one the governor would like to shoot — doesn’t find the joke particularly funny. But as offended as he is, he’s only asking for an apology, not an investigation. (And he still hasn’t received one.)

But this isn’t an isolated experience. It appears Governor LePage would like to kill many, many people.

A day after Gov. Paul LePage told a group of high school students that he would “like to shoot” a Bangor Daily News cartoonist, a top advocate for expanding passenger rail to Lewiston-Auburn said that LePage earlier this month said state lawmakers from Lewiston should be “rounded up and executed in the public square.”

That this alleged statement — made on government property in a government building — wasn’t greeted with police officers, arrests, etc. is also hypocritical. Given the paranoiac thinking that has passed for “caution” since 2001, someone talking about shooting people while in a government building is usually considered to be something best handled with deployments of force and zealous prosecution. Then there’s the fact that this joke Godwins itself by aligning Governor LePage with other political figures who had opponents rounded up and shot.

That LePage ever delivered this second shooting “joke” is still debatable. One person attending this meeting in the governor’s office claims to have heard it. Other attendees disagree. But either way, we have at least one confirmed instance of a political figure claiming he’d like to shoot someone he doesn’t like.

But there’s no investigation underway and no one is calling for an indictment of LePage for issuing a “threat.” Because it isn’t one. It’s simply hyperbolic speech uttered without intent or desire to actually follow through with such an act. It’s what people do when expressing displeasure with someone or something. It happens all the time. Except when it happens in a comment section and the subject is a federal judge, it suddenly becomes a threat worthy of investigation and obfuscation by the US Attorney’s Office.

When it’s a politician “targeting” a little person, no one cares, even with the recent Charlie Hebdo shooting as a backdrop — a justification for cartoonist George Danby to take this “threat” very personally indeed. But Danby doesn’t think LePage truly wants him dead and recognizes it for what it is. The “little people” who aren’t afforded the full power of their government are much more rational than those with it at their disposal.

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Comments on “Governor Tells High School Students He'd Like To Shoot A Student's Dad; Arrest/Investigation Fail To Ensue”

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39 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Well it makes sense

I assume it was a snide reference to the “Bong hits for Jesus” joke sign off hours resulting in a suspension. Because drugs. (Literally said that preventing unacceptable speech as “promoting drug use” was legitimate school duty.) Or to the disregard for the fourth amendment in allowing any time school drug searches without a warrant even in student vehicles.

Seems drugs are behind every stupid Supreme Court decision involving schools. No wonder why legalization support is highest among the youth.

So Where Were You? says:

Hypocrisy as usual here at Techdirt.

This non-joke comment passed without least word from admins:

Gee, blue is just a glutton for punishment isn’t he? I wish I could be like Atticus Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird” and be told there’s a mad dog in the street, whereupon he calmly takes out a shotgun and squeezes the trigger.

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130415/17080722714/eff-isohunt-bad-facts-make-bad-law.shtml#c165

No pirate will defend non-pirates. Iron Law of human nature.

Lex Noctem (profile) says:

Wrong stage

The comments are being treated as serious threats by the US government, seeing as they were posted below an article about a federal judge.

You might be confusing the “investigative stage” with the “charging stage” of criminal prosecutions. How do you know if a possible threat is a true threat unless you investigate?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Wrong stage

Context.

If every threat is treated as true, regardless of context, then the governor should have been investigated as well. That he wasn’t either means that a) he’s above the law and is allowed to issue (assumed to be valid without investigation) death-threats without repercussions, and/or b) the context in which the statement was made made it clear that it wasn’t a true threat.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Wrong stage

[H]e’s above the law and is allowed…

Yes, and the dividing line and, just so that one does not get the impression, that a governor can run amok in this country and get away with it, we have to have in mind that a governor has to come up before the electorate.

It’s quite obvious that there are certain inherently government activities, which, if undertaken by the sovereign in protection of the interests of state security are lawful.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: The real problem that we're all seeing is...

The complete absence of accountability of the judiciary and the prosecutors. This same problem is at the root of the failure to prosecute crooked politicians, murdering police, and threatening governors as this article points out. At the same time prosecutors may at any time persecute (not prosecute) anyone they feel like. Aaron Swartz committed suicide because federal prosecutors were going to charge him with 13 felony counts for allegedly stealing millions of academic articles and journals from a digital archive at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, earning him 30 years in prison, even though the articles were free to download. In Manassas, a 17 year old was charged with “sexting” charges for sending videos of himself to his then-girlfriend, who was 15 years old. They had one problem though: How to prove it was his erection they saw on the video. The judge’s answer: Inject the kid’s penis, forcing an erection, and photograph it. See? It’s not child abuse or “kiddie porn” if you’re a prosecutor or a judge.

FM Hilton (profile) says:

Our disgraceful idiot.

“But there’s no investigation underway and no one is calling for an indictment of LePage for issuing a “threat.” Because it isn’t one. It’s simply hyperbolic speech uttered without intent or desire to actually follow through with such an act. It’s what people do when expressing displeasure with someone or something. It happens all the time. Except when it happens in a comment section and the subject is a federal judge, it suddenly becomes a threat worthy of investigation and obfuscation by the US Attorney’s Office.”

No-there isn’t an investigation into his words, but there sure is one being conducted by the State Legislature into his threat of withholding school funds from a private school because they hired one of his political foes. The school fired the guy before he started, and now he’s going to sue Lepage and the entire state is extremely pissed off at this joke of a governor.

The threats just are part of his territory-the street punk.

Believe me, if we could remove him from office, we would in a heartbeat. The man is scum, and he proves it every time he opens his mouth.

Or as one proposed sign says: “Welcome to Maine. Our governor is an idiot”.

Has been from day 1, and has not improved.

But thanks for highlighting this..it’s just all too awful to see this in national media..we’re deeply ashamed of him and his big fat mouth. He’s brought nothing but shame on our beloved state.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“won’t someone rid me of this troublesome priest?”

… several versions have been reported. The most commonly quoted, as handed down by oral tradition, is “Who will rid me of this troublesome priest?”, but according to historian Simon Schama this is incorrect: he accepts the account of the contemporary biographer Edward Grim, writing in Latin, who gives us “What miserable drones and traitors have I nourished and brought up in my household, who let their lord be treated with such shameful contempt by a low-born cleric?” Many variations have found their way into popular culture.

            ——Wikipedia (citations omitted).

Anonymous Coward says:

FCC Comments

When the FCC was taking comments on net neutrality, they received some very nasty comments. I thought many of them crossed the line of civility, and if it had been another forum, well, let’s just say some of them were very nasty.

If the FCC didn’t send out the FBI to arrest all of these people, at least they recognize the nature of forum postings.

Anonymous Coward says:

…state lawmakers from Lewiston should be “rounded up and executed in the public square.”

He is referring to execution, which by definition is a legally sanctioned killing. It would require a change of law, which must be what he is proposing. It is therefore protected political speech. His position as governor only gives added weight to this interpretation.

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