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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  • identicon
    Great White Hunter, 7 Jul 2015 @ 4:01pm

    Well it makes sense

    Students already have no rights according to the supreme court so hunting the most dangerous prey is the next logical step

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jul 2015 @ 4:46am

      Re: Well it makes sense

      "Students already have no rights"

      This is incorrect.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 8 Jul 2015 @ 6:07am

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Bergman (profile), 8 Jul 2015 @ 2:36pm

      Re: Well it makes sense

      Not only are you mistaken, you are 100% mistaken.

      The Supreme Court has ruled the complete opposite of what you claim in fact, many times over.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Jul 2015 @ 4:07pm

    Laws for thee but not for me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    sorrykb (profile), 7 Jul 2015 @ 4:07pm

    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.

    Youth, meet your leaders.

    This leader's joking about murdering your dad.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Jul 2015 @ 4:11pm

      Re:

      "Youth, meet your leaders. This leader's joking about murdering your dad."

      And make sure you learn the lesson well.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Jul 2015 @ 4:08pm

    One set of laws for me...

    another for thee.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 7 Jul 2015 @ 4:11pm

    Everyone is equal under the law

    Some are just more equal than others.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Loki, 7 Jul 2015 @ 4:13pm

    Of course there is a difference. You can't disagree with authority if you are authority.

    The so called "crimes" here weren't the "threats" made, it's the fact they show open dissent against authority.

    Hell this government would probably make Palpatine envious.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    So Where Were You?, 7 Jul 2015 @ 4:18pm

    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.sht ml#c165

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

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Nastybutler77 (profile), 7 Jul 2015 @ 4:34pm

      Re: Hypocrisy as usual here at Techdirt.

      Not everything is always about you, yet you find a way to play the victim in nearly every post on this blog. Sad little man.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Jul 2015 @ 4:38pm

      Re: Hypocrisy as usual here at Techdirt.

      What's the matter blue? Justice Department wouldn't investigate your complaints? Sorry, you're just not worth it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        icon
        Sheogorath (profile), 7 Jul 2015 @ 6:01pm

        Re: Hypocrisy as usual here at Techdirt.

        C'mere, blue. I'mma feed you into a wood chipper fucking head first! Hey, if someone shuts it down partway through, at least he won't survive. ;D

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Jul 2015 @ 6:27pm

      Re:

      Your best rebuttal is a comment made two years ago? What a joke.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      RD, 8 Jul 2015 @ 6:05am

      Re: Hypocrisy as usual here at Techdirt.

      The difference is you actually deserve it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Jul 2015 @ 4:27pm

    Justice and Liberty for ....... everyone except those wielding the system.

    Doesn't have the same ring to it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Jul 2015 @ 4:53pm

    They literally threaten our lives and still wonder why we have "something to hide."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Lex Noctem (profile), 7 Jul 2015 @ 4:59pm

    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?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Jul 2015 @ 5:21pm

      Re: Wrong stage

      How do you know if a possible threat is a true threat unless you investigate?
      Oh, that's easy-peasy:   When the governor does it, that means it is not illegal.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 7 Jul 2015 @ 5:52pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 7 Jul 2015 @ 6:29pm

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 8 Jul 2015 @ 8:53am

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Jul 2015 @ 5:12pm

    Two sets of rules, best indoctrinate them while they are young.

    LePage is an idiot.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    FM Hilton, 7 Jul 2015 @ 6:20pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Zos (profile), 7 Jul 2015 @ 7:10pm

    "won't someone rid me of this troublesome priest?"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Jul 2015 @ 7:25pm

      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).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Jul 2015 @ 7:46pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    JoeCool (profile), 7 Jul 2015 @ 8:24pm

    Silly Rabbit -

    Laws are for LITTLE people!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Jul 2015 @ 11:51pm

    one law for the elite, 1 law for everyone else.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Nicci Stevens (profile), 8 Jul 2015 @ 6:54am

    Um ...

    MSNBC reported last week that LePage was facing a legislature investigation and possible impeachment.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Nicci Stevens (profile), 8 Jul 2015 @ 6:54am

    Um ...

    MSNBC reported last week that LePage was facing a legislature investigation and possible impeachment.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Dreddsnik, 8 Jul 2015 @ 7:07am

      Re: Um ...

      "MSNBC reported last week that LePage was facing a legislature investigation and possible impeachment."

      But not for this. Seems like a small distinction, but it's really not.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jul 2015 @ 9:00am

    ...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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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