Florida Candidate Interviewed By Secret Service After Calling For Obama To Be Tried And Hanged

156482_223545827783750_183494050_nPresident_Barack_ObamaThe United States Secret Service has interviewed a Republican candidate for the Florida House of Representatives after he made a comment on Twitter about the need for President Obama to be tried and hanged for his crimes. It was a uniquely stupid tweet but the controversy again raises the question of the federal law making threatening language against the President a crime. For years, elementary students, journalists, and even cartoonists have found themselves being confronted by Secret Service over comments or pictures deemed threatening. The effort is chilling for the first amendment and inimical to political speech.

Take the statement of Joshua Black, who stated “I’m past impeachment. It’s time to arrest and hang him high.”

Black specifically stated that Obama should be arrested and then hanged for crimes. Yet, that was enough to get an ominous visit from the Secret Service. Notably, there is no such concern when former high-ranking intelligence officials call for Edward Snowden to be hanged.

Brown, 31, is clearly unhinged in making such a statement. He is already being denounced for the tweet. However, my concern is with the continued action of the Secret Service in interviewing critics of this and past presidents. These visits bring an obvious threat to critics that any statement deemed threatening could result in their arrest.

Black later responded to the controversy and noted that no one seems to have a problem with citizens being vaporized by Obama without a trial or even criminal charge:

joshua-black

The Secret Service continues to confront anyone who expresses hurtful thoughts about a president, including common expressions like wishing a president would just die or be killed. These field interviews are conducted under 18 U.S.C. § 871:

(a) Whoever knowingly and willfully deposits for conveyance in the mail or for a delivery from any post office or by any letter carrier any letter, paper, writing, print, missive, or document containing any threat to take the life of, to kidnap, or to inflict bodily harm upon the President of the United States, the President-elect, the Vice President or other officer next in the order of succession to the office of President of the United States, or the Vice President-elect, or knowingly and willfully otherwise makes any such threat against the President, President-elect, Vice President or other officer next in the order of succession to the office of President, or Vice President-elect, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

The position of the Secret Service is that any drawing or comments can theoretically be a “threat” and has to be investigated. The result is that children are pulled out of classes or cartoonists are asked to explain a piece depicting a president in a bull eye image. It is the same lack of judgment or discretion that we have seen with zero tolerance rules in schools. However, this practice has a direct chilling effect on political speech.

As for Black, voters will judge his candidacy by such statements. Ironically, on his website, he offers himself as a new approach to reaching voters:

Republicans have a serious communication problem. Everything we say sounds like spears. We find ways to energize our core supporters, the people who will always only ever vote Republican, but we have a hard time explaining to anyone else why they should listen to our solutions.

Of course, this was a rope not a spear.

40 thoughts on “Florida Candidate Interviewed By Secret Service After Calling For Obama To Be Tried And Hanged”

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  5. Must be a double standard. There were nutjob rap “artists” that that had songs about threatening President Bush and nothing happened. If someone says something about mr. obama, they go after them now? Double standard!

  6. 1 Presidents assassinated
    1.1 Abraham Lincoln
    1.2 James A. Garfield
    1.3 William McKinley
    1.4 John F. Kennedy

    2 Failed assassination attempts
    2.1 Andrew Jackson
    2.2 Abraham Lincoln
    2.3 Theodore Roosevelt
    2.4 Herbert Hoover
    2.5 Franklin D. Roosevelt
    2.6 Harry S Truman
    2.7 John F. Kennedy
    2.8 Richard Nixon
    2.9 Gerald Ford
    2.10 Jimmy Carter
    2.11 Ronald Reagan
    2.12 George H. W. Bush
    2.13 Bill Clinton
    2.14 George W. Bush
    2.15 Barack Obama

    I can understand the paranoia of the secret service. They are charged with keeping the president safe and I don’t see an issue with them going out and interviewing folks who make public statements that could be considered a threat or an inducement to violence. They don’t arrest most of these people. If the interview causes someone to use their brain and think before speaking so that when they do, they speak wisely – that is all to the good. Not to mention that Twitter is not the medium to use when you have a complex statement to make.

  7. maxcat07,
    He called for the lawful arrest of the president for treason. He called for the carrying out of a legal execution if convicted.

    Many many many MANY people called for Bush’s murder for claims of treason that were even more frivolous than claims of Obama’s treason.

    Also I didn’t say anything about him being investigated. My point was regarding the personal attacks on the man, the accusation of being an idiot, and the tried and true but pathetic claim that any attack on Obama by anyone is automatically racist.

  8. Calling for the President to be arrested and face the death penalty for treason is not a threat. He is talking about doing it under the rule of law. This is another example where the Secret Service illustrates how they are overpaid and have too much time on their hands. This is another artifact of our government being too big for its britches. And as Professor Turley rightly points out, it has a chilling effect upon free speech and the liberty of citizens to criticize in the harshest terms our newest King of America. Our founding fathers said much worse things about King George III.

  9. Aside from the threat against the president being real or not, or it being a free speech or not, what is clear if someone writes something on the internet that the gov’t objects to you can be certain now there is the capability for the gov’t to find out who you are and pay you a home visit.

  10. Otterayscribe: Are you perhaps speaking of the Maximum Security Unit at Fulton, MO? I was there in a prior life, many moons ago. Not as a dog or an inmate but as an inmate advocate.

  11. The was all debated and sorted out when Goldwater ran for President and this Florida guy is right up the same alley. None Dare Call It Treason! That was the word of the day from Barry. My dad went from “I Like Ike” to Barry. It took a leap. My dad had no faith so it was a leap of logic. But my dad was not as wacko is this Floridian and would not have advocated hanging LBJ. When I put the bumper sticker on my 1965 Mustang that said: Nixon: Pull Out Now Like Your Father Should Have, my father was disappointed in me. He thought I was talking about Nixon and his wife. No, dad, I am talking about Nam here. Its the same sort of thing here in Florida. The wacko is getting attention for being one toe over the line. A guy like this will get us back into Nam. None dare call it reason either. Not in Florida. Heck the Governor shaves his head.

  12. Sharon. it’s the hanging portion of his statement that got him investigated. He can call Obama guilty of treason every day, just as I do concerning Bush.

  13. So anyone who accuses President Obama of treason is a lunatic. Oh and of course as per usual, is a racist using secret code words.

    And all those people, celebrities, politicians, and users of this website who accused Bush of treason were of course simply speaking the truth.

  14. Now I know I very well may be investigated for bringing this up, but if that is how this guy feels about Obama, then I would be interested to know how he feels about the three stooges. Let’s call a spade a spade. If the punishment fits the crime then we will have to bring back drawing and quartering along with all the other accoutrements.

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