If Democrat Rep. Frederica Wilson wanted to deter people from “making fun” of members of Congress, she went terribly wrong. People are heaping scorn on her call for people to be “prosecuted” for making fun of members. Making fun of members is speech that is clearly protected under the First Amendment. Indeed, it is a practice going back to the founding of the Republic. Wilson (who has been long teased over her elaborate faux jewel-encrusted cowboy hats) appears to moving from making breathtaking fashion to constitutional statements.
Wilson was upset about a Facebook group where Border agents allegedly mocked members of Congress, including New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The site and the postings are being investigated
Wilson was outraged and declared
“Those people who are online making fun of members of Congress are a disgrace, and there is no need for anyone to think that is unacceptable. We’re gonna shut them down and work with whoever it is to shut them down, and they should be prosecuted. You cannot intimidate members of Congress, frighten members of Congress. It is against the law, and it’s a shame in this United States of America.”
Many of us have criticized President Donald Trump for his attacks on the media and calls for greater liability for reporters. The media should be equally vigilant in calling out Democrats who engage in such reckless public statements.
Section 115(a)(2) of Title 18 covers threats against all Federal employees when such threat is done “with intent to impede, intimidate, or interfere with” such Federal employee “while engaged in the performance of official duties, or with intent to retaliate against” such Federal employee. That language has to be read in conjunction with the Constitution and exclude political or social commentary that constitutes opinion, including mocking or ridiculing politicians.