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. Oh wad some power the giftie gie us
    To see oursels as others see us!
    Iwt wad frae monie a blunder free us,
    An’ foolish notion.

    –Robert Burns, To a Love, Stanza 8
    (as found in John Bartlett, Familiar Quotations)

    It may be easy to reject what others tell us they see in us.

    It may be easier to accept what others tell us if we are told with methods using threatening coercion.

    It may be easier yet to accept what others tell us if almost everyone is telling us much the same things they see in us.

    If one person can be mistaken about something important, can two people share their being mistaken?

    If two people can share their being mistaken, can ten people share their being mistaken about what they see in a particular person?

    Can a person similar enough to Michelle Bachman be elected because enough people see in her something about themselves, and identify with her?

    How many people need to believe something false is true or believe something true is false before a falsehood is seen as a truth or a truth as a falsehood?

    Does sharing a belief make the belief true, even if the belief is false?

    Methinks there are many people who share some beliefs with Michelle Bachman, else she would not have been elected.

    Who elects whom?

    If Michelle Bachman has been elected, surely she is among the elect?

    If Michelle Bachman is among the elect, what right have those of us who are her inferiors, not being among the elect, to criticize her?

    What if one has been elected as class clown?

    Is not one elected as class clown among the elect?

    Who is the electors?

    A Class Clown mirrors the class by clowning.

    The Class Act, asks,

    Clown Mirror , Clown Mirror, not on a wall,
    Who is the most elected of all?

    A peanut is not a nut;
    A peanut is a legume.

    The humane Comedy–
    Is just human error?

    People sincere:
    People error?

    In a world of compounded error,
    One is the only true majority.

    It is the truth within us
    Only as individuals
    Which is that we
    May best learn to see.

    If groupthink brings comfort,
    ’tis best to learn to bear discomfort?

    Clown Mirroring hate is an arduous task-
    Had the Class class, would it be Classy to ask:
    Clown Mirror, Clown Mirror, not on a wall–
    Why do we shrink as we stand together tall?

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