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Monday, August 29, 2005

Calls For Robertson's Extradition

Boy am I old. I'm so old that I remember when Jesse Jackson was a civil rights leader who I thought did a lot of good. I'm old. This thread on DU is interesting. An organization of South American Foreign Ministers thinks Robertson committed a crime:
Foreign Ministers of the Latin American countries belonging to the Rio Group expressed confidence that U.S. authorities will set in motion the "appropiate legal processes" to punish the call of evangelical telepreacher Pat Robertson to assassinate Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.
A number of DU commenters second the call and some suggest the DLC should get on board. Jesse Jackson has also made the same claim:
"... Rev. Jesse Jackson offered support for President Hugo Chavez on Sunday, saying a call for his assassination by a U.S. religious broadcaster was a criminal act and that Washington and Venezuela should work out their differences through diplomacy.

The U.S. civil rights leader condemned last week's suggestion by Pat Robertson that American agents should kill the leftist Venezuelan leader, calling the conservative commentator's statements "immoral" and "illegal."
Another commenter wants Robertson shipped to Gitmo:
How is Robertson different here from the Ayatollah Talibanskys over there?

If we truly are "at war with terror" it's time to arrest Robertson, ship him off to Gitmo, torture him, hold him incommunicado, until everyone forgets who he was, and it will all be in complete compliance with the "Patriot Act."
Granted, I believe that what Pat Robertson said was immoral. But it wasn't illegal, as a DU commenter tries to explain to the board:
Like it or not, what he said was legal.

First amendment, freedom of speech, and all that BS. I've read the transcript of what he actually said, and heard it repeated ad nauseum on CNN, and what he said doesn't rise to the level of a terrorist threat. He clearly said that Chavez should be killed, and that the United States should do it. He did NOT call on his followers to kill him, did not say that he was going to have Chavez killed, and did not offer any kind of bounty or reward for killing Chavez. He simply said that the world would be better off if someone offed the guy.

There are people here on DU who have made the exact same comments about people in our own government. We may not like Robertson or what he says, but we need to remember that the 1st amendment was drafted to protect UNpopular speech, not the speech we all agree with. If we start imprisoning people for expressing political views we don't agree with, we'll be forging a political sword that could easily be turned back against us.
The poster above only gets support from a couple of others, but honestly, how can you prosecute such a thing given the 1st Amendment? If it doesn't protect political speech, what good is it? We have to allow the KKK to advocate passing laws for their repulsive beliefs, and we can't stop Robertson from saying that the US government should assassinate Chavez. Now, if he told his audience to go out and do it, that would be different. But floating the idea that our government should do something nasty like this is protected under the Constitution.

The cure for ill-advised and immoral speech is speech countering those ideas, not imprisonment. It's a constant surprise to me how few people on DU seem to understand the First Amendment.

it is actually not so far removed from a crime as you may think. A person who advocates the killing of another person, but does not specifically order the killing, can still be held liable if one of their followers does the deed.

e.g. a white supremacist leader says that someone who kill Jesse Jackson. One of his followers does it, even though it was never specifically ordered, the leader could be charged with manslaughter or reckless disregard.

"and that Washington and Venezuela should work out their differences through diplomacy."

And this is a bad statement? opposed to something like an oil embargo?
Those DU boys have a point.

Calling the murder of an elected leader is a serious matter, indeed.

Someone needs to go over the DU, Kos and Atrios files to see who called for the assasination of President Bush.
Dingo - but he didn't tell his followers to do it. He said that the US government should do it, because Chavez was going to cause a lot of trouble in SA and had all that cheap oil.

I've posted about what I think of Robertson and his statement twice. This post is about the 1st Amendment. Under the 1st a citizen calling upon his government to do something can't be held to be committing an illegal act. As I wrote in the post, if Robertson called upon his followers to run off and kill Chavez it would be a different matter.

It does not surprise me that the Rio Group doesn't understand the American Constitution. I am surprised that Jesse Jackson doesn't. I'm really surprised that so many of DU didn't catch the problem. I'm really, really surprised that you don't seem to take the legal distinction seriously.

SC&A - several of the DU posters made exactly that point.
Because the legal distinction is not as big as you think it is. Seriously, there have been convictions under similar situations. The leader does not need to specifically call on his followers to commit the crime. If his words are inciteful enough, it can raise to the level of reckless disregard. Robertson's words were not illegal as is, but if one of his watchers killed, or attempted to kill Chavez, Robertson could be criminally liable.

Additionally, as you have seen with Janet Jackson's boob, or Howard Stern, etc, etc. There is a different standard of freedom of speech on the airwaves. Janet and Howard were exercising their 1st amendment rights, but the networks were criminally fined for their actions. That is why Howard Stern went to XM radio. Same thing on the internet. There are different levels of criminality between advocating the assassination of a foreign leader on a blog than there is on broadcast television.

And really MOM, what would you rather have on the TV you are watching. Janet's boob or a religious man calling for the US to execute a foreign leader? Yes, you are talking about a boob either way, but it has always baffled me how much Americans get up in arms about nudity on TV (e.g. ER's showing of an 80 year old woman's breast) and have complete apathy over violence.
No, Dingo, you are wrong. Dead, dead wrong.

Robertson's comments were political. His call was an advocacy for the American government to do a certain thing. If the 1st Amendment does not allow a citizen of the United States to advocate a government policy, than what does it protect? I await your answer with fascinated interest.

This issue is a matter of rights under the Constitution, and has nothing to do with what I want to see on TV. Nothing. Anyway, I don't watch TV. I have made it clear before what I think of Robertson. My opinion that another person is an irresponsible fool can't affect that person's legal rights under the US Constitution.

Stop waffling all over the place. Robertson was talking about politics. Here is what Robertson said (Media Matters:
You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war. And I don't think any oil shipments will stop. But this man is a terrific danger and the United ... This is in our sphere of influence, so we can't let this happen. We have the Monroe Doctrine, we have other doctrines that we have announced. And without question, this is a dangerous enemy to our south, controlling a huge pool of oil, that could hurt us very badly. We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.

This is clearly political speech, just as it was when that US Senator called for nuking Mecca.

The Supreme Court has made it quite clear what it thinks of the matter. I refer you to Noto v. United States and Brandenburg v. Ohio, which, btw, was included in my sixth-grade American history curriculum:
These later decisions have fashioned the principle that the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.

Now, Dingo, advocating that the US government should do something cannot be advocacy of a "lawless action". The Supreme Court would laugh unanamiously if you tried to claim that Pat Robertson had any liklihood of inciting or producing the covert operatives of the US Government to head out there and whack Chavez.

Tell me you believe in the 1st Amendment. Please. The Brandenburg test is quite clear. Political speech can't be prohibited purely because it is noxious in your or my opinion.
Saddam Hussein's Death Is a Goal, Says Ex-CIA Chief

"During the bombing of Baghdad in 1991, officials in the Bush White House "lit a candle every night hoping Saddam Hussein would be killed in a bunker," according to Robert M. Gates, then a National Security Council official and later director of the CIA.

A former top intelligence official in the Clinton administration said yesterday, "Those candles will be lit again if we have to bomb again. Command and control sites will be targeted and we hope that Saddam Hussein is in one of them."

Although supporters of tougher military action against Iraq than the bombing strikes proposed by the Clinton administration have publicly avoided calling for President Saddam Hussein's assassination, his death is an implicit aim behind many demands for stronger U.S. steps, including support of a coup, that would remove him from power..."

One of the Clinton administration's covert actions against Saddam Hussein in the 1994-1995 period was the so-called "zipless coup" aimed at quickly removing the Iraqi leader. The plotting involved supporting exiled Iraqi military and political leaders who operated from Amman, Jordan. The goal was to find, encourage and assist some senior Iraqi officer to take his troops, kill or overpower Saddam's immediate guards and then take the leader himself.

Well Saddam Hussein assassinated over a million of his own citizens, so I can hardly find it in my heart to condemn the above as unnecessary.

Fortunately Chavez has not yet launched into the mass murder busines (afaik).

I would think world history would approve if the German generals had succeeded in their coup attempt against Hitler.
Not completely true, but I do stand somewhat corrected.

1) civil liability does attach regardless of freedom of speech. Meaning, if one of Robertson's followers shot Chavez, his family could sue Robertson for wrongful death.

2) Matt Hale, a white supremacist (this is where I was somewhat off on and why you were right) was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder of a federal judge. While he never specifically said "do it" he came close. I thought he was more removed than he actually was.

Evola: We're going to exterminate the rats.
Hale: Whatever you want to do, you know. My position has always been that I, you know, I'm going to fight within the law. But that information has been provided if you wish to do anything yourself you can.
Evola: Consider it done.

3) "except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action."

distinction is that there was no direct advocacy of violence by the leader of the KKK. They never said, "Malcolm X should be killed." The leader in that case never actually said anyone should be killed, there were just guns laying around. If the KKK leader was standing there and said, "Malcolm X should be taken out," neither of us could say the case would end up the same.


5) I have a distinct feeling that "freedom of expression" has a new meaning post 9/11 and with Muslim clerics advocating violence.

6) There is a different standard on the airwaves. There is no way around that. What you or I can say to each other is different that what a TV announcer host can say.
Are the DU folks suggesting we send George Stephanopoulus to Gitmo for recommending that Clinton should have assinated Saddam?

Correct me if I am wrong, but hasn't Jesse "shakedown" Jackson always been a big Fidel Castro fan?

So no surprise he would defend that thug Chavez.
Com'on... isn't anyone going to call me on RICO? You people are getting soft in your old age.
Too worried about Boomr to enjoy kicking Dingos.... Besides, it's Be Kind To Animals week.

Catch you later on this one. There is a sharp difference between advocating that the government take a position and advocating that people do it. (No moral difference, IMO, but definitely a legal difference.)
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