A Little Touch of Tripoli? Indiana Deputy Attorney General Calls For Use of Live Fire Against Protesters In Wisconsin

Indiana Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Cox has reportedly been fired after Mother Jones Magazine identified him as the source of a tweet denouncing liberals and calling for the use of live ammunition against teacher protesters in Wisconsin.

The case again raises the question of when personal statements of public employees can be used against them. {UPDATE: Cox responds to our posting]

In this case, Cox reportedly stated that riot police should sweep demonstrators out of the Wisconsin Capitol building where they were protesting labor legislation. One of its reporters investigated the comment and discovered it was Cox. When confronted, however, Cox went further and called the protesters
“political enemies” and “thugs” who were “physically threatening legally-elected officials.” He then reportedly added “You’re damned right I advocate deadly force” on the protesters. He later called the reporter a “typical leftist” and when asked for “context” of his remarks, he replied “For ‘context?’ Or to silence me? All my comments on twitter and my blog are my own and no one else’s. And I can defend them all.”

Mother Jones reports that he also made such bizarre remarks as asking “Planned Parenthood could help themselves if the only abortions they performed were retroactive”?

The Indiana Attorney General’s office promptly announced that Cox is “no longer employed by the state.” The question is whether Cox has any free speech arguments in this incident. Assuming that he was commenting in his private time, he was discussing matters in a different state and did not associate his office with his remarks. Indeed, it appears that his initial comments were anonymous. The Attorney General stated that he was enforcing a policy of “civility and courtesy toward all members of the public.” The free speech implications had clearly been discussed by his office. The statement emphasized that “[w]e respect individuals’ First Amendment right to express their personal views on private online forums, but as public servants we are held by the public to a higher standard, and we should strive for civility.”

We have been discussing the line between public and private conduct in a myriad of cases (here is the latest). This case, in my view, raises some legitimate free speech issues, even though I find Cox’s remarks to be vile and unhinged. He made his comments in tweets and on a blog (that has now been shutdown) called Pro Cynic. His past comments included such advice on a “sensible policy” on Afghanistan as “KILL! KILL! ANNIHILATE!” According to the Mother Jones reporter, Cox corresponded on Tweets under the anonymous name JCCentCom — without using his real name or title.

Where Cox may have crossed the line is when he identified himself and then continued to make inflammatory comments. At that point, he may have associated his position with his remarks. He seemed fully aware of the implications of both his remarks and his association with those remarks, noting “you will probably try to demonize me, but that comes with the territory.”

What do you think?

Source: Daily Mail

Jonathan Turley

43 thoughts on “A Little Touch of Tripoli? Indiana Deputy Attorney General Calls For Use of Live Fire Against Protesters In Wisconsin”

  1. Pete, when you paste your vid link get rid of “[youtube ” and it will play properly. Thanks, I love that album.

  2. Elaine,

    Bachmann is full of nonsense as are those who keep returning her to office … there is, as Madeleine Albright says, a special place in hell for women like Michele Bachmann

  3. What kind of stupidity is needed for mistakenly believing that stupidity actually exists?

  4. i hear the Palin/Bachmann ticket already has their campaign slogan.

    “I’m with stupid”

  5. We’re saving it for Vegas, Elaine.

    With the upcoming political season, there is more than enough potential material for me and HenMan to go pro.

  6. Buddha-

    Amen! It gets you appointed and then re-elected. Or should I say “Diebolded”? The best is yet to come. Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann are waiting in the wings. “May the “Duh!” be with you!”

  7. HenMan,

    “Free Speech doesn’t get you fired. Stupid does.”

    Lest we forget the lessons of history, sometimes stupid gets you appointed President, too.

  8. This same question arises in Gov. Walker’s case. Here is a governor who discussed an illegal action–should he use hired thugs to instigate violence on peaceful protesters which would then give him an excuse to possibly use the “live ammunition” on the protesters as recommended by Mr. Cox. Here’s an article on the police chief wishing to have some questions answered with regards to Gov. Walker’s plan. http://www.channel3000.com/news/26979885/detail.html

    For certain the Federal govt. regularly infiltrates peace groups and arrests us for even posting fliers about upcoming demonstrations. If the Federal govt. applied it’s “reasoning” used to attack peace groups to Gov. Walker he would be under arrest.

  9. Mr. Cox is free to spew his nonsense as a private citizen,but when he does it as a Deputy AG for the State of Indiana, he has gone too far. How do these idiots get into these positions?

  10. LindyLou22

    1, February 24, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    Mr. Cox would like to kill us for our peaceful protest, but the first thing he does is cry that an investigative reporter is trying to silence him.


    Excellent point!

  11. Mr. Cox would like to kill us for our peaceful protest, but the first thing he does is cry that an investigative reporter is trying to silence him.

  12. Elaine,

    I was looking that up also in the Madison news. It really isn’t clear to me that Dems have folded. They made an agreement but are keeping themselves away from acting on it.


    I thought that was a very nuanced discussion on your part of the situation.

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