By Clifford C. Nichols
Solicitation of murder defined: The act of offering any kind of a reward or inducement to another with the intent of encouraging him to kill a designated person.
A light needs to be shined upon a certain malignancy that appears to be manifesting itself in our nation’s discourse with increasing frequency. That is the celebrities and politicians who publicly attempt to induce their followers to either actually assassinate the president or bring physical harm to those associated with him.
Under the laws of every jurisdiction in America, the act of soliciting a crime by the offering of an inducement is a separate and distinct crime unto itself that is punishable under the law, even if the crime being solicited never occurs.
We might ask ourselves, therefore, why we as a society are repeatedly turning a blind eye to thinly veiled calls to induce others to either assassinate the president or maim other members of his administration, just because the people soliciting such crimes just happen to be famous.
Not many months after Trump was inaugurated, none other than former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch presented her plea on the Internet to coalesce a unified violent opposition to the presidency of Donald Trump.
To encourage members of the public to participate in this “resistance,” she undeniably attempted to encourage them to link their identity to unspecified heroes from our nation’s past. And, to encourage even their acceptance of bloodshed and death being an integral part to this “resistance,” she said:
“They’ve marched. They’ve bled. Yes, some of them have died. This is hard. Every good thing is. We have done this before; we can do this again.”
Sadly, however, this call to “resist” our duly elected president with violence did not end with Ms. Lynch. Other people in the public eye – people of fame – have also suggested to the public that they support the “resistance.” Robert De Niro declared he would like to see President Trump punched in the face, and Mickey Rourke has suggested he would have him beat with a baseball bat.
Other celebrities, however, have openly pushed their hatred of President Trump to another level. They have blatantly let us all know that, for them, the president’s death – i.e. assassination – would be something they would be delighted to see come to pass. Consider only the following more glaring examples:
- Charlie Sheen tweets to his over 12 million followers that he would hope for God to kill the president;
- Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain told millions of TMZ viewers he would prefer the president be poisoned;
- Madonna suggested to America a bomb might work;
- The New York’s Public Theater evidently would prefer a stabbing; and
- Johnny Depp agreed it might be a good time “for another actor to kill a president”; whereas
- Snoop Dogg’s video offers the idea of him being shot; while
- Kathy Griffin apparently would prefer decapitation.
Of course, after the fact, these celebrities predictably dismiss their miscreant suggestions of homicidal violence as being nothing more than mere expressions of artistic license, exercises of free speech or even failed attempts at comedy. However, this is a cultural phenomenon that can no longer be tolerated by a civilized society.
In just the last week, the “resistance” initiated by people like Loretta Lynch has evolved to produce the following hostile acts. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was physically required to leave a restaurant by those “resisting” the president. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi was surrounded at a public event by “bullies” looking for a fight. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen was first heckled while eating at a restaurant, and then further threatened by other members of the “resistance” who surrounded her home. And Peter Fonda, via Twitter, publicly called for, among other things, the kidnapping and sexual assault of the president’s 12-year-old son.
Then – not to be left behind – Rep. Maxine Waters has now stepped forward to publicly call for the harassment and humiliation of all associates of the Trump administration nationwide – at restaurants, gas stations, department stores, or anywhere else members of the “resistance” may encounter one.
There can be no doubt in anyone’s mind that such malignant public behavior, if left unattended to by the authorities, will cause us all very soon to experience another day like when Rep. Steve Scalise was shot and left to bleed on a baseball field.
Such behavior must stop.
These public figures know that, by virtue of their celebrity, they are not acting in a vacuum. In some cases, they have millions of people who admire them, love them and often even worship them.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, however, it is a fact that most, if not all, celebrities are also very aware that residing within each of their respective fan bases are defective people – people who dwell on the fringe of society – people who are mentally unstable, if not deranged – people who might seriously attempt to kill someone if they are caused to believe they would obtain the approval of a celebrity over whom they obsess.
It is within the context of a celebrity’s awareness of such deviant fans that any celebrity’s public call to violence must be judged. It is not entertainment. It is not comedy. Nor is it speech that should be insulated by virtue of their celebrity from its foreseeable, and ultimately probable, tragic and harmful consequences.
Instead, such acts should be condemned for what they are – premeditated acts taken for the purpose of weaponizing some unstable members residing on the fringe of the celebrity’s fan base – to induce one or more of them to cause harm to a suggested target or targets in exchange for the celebrity’s approval.
That approval celebrities offer their followers on the fringe to commit a crime is the inducement they know may be more valuable to some of those followers than cash.
Recall the actions of a member of actress Jodie Foster’s fan base named John Hinckley Jr. With no solicitation from Ms. Foster, he took it upon himself to shoot President Reagan and others thinking that by doing so, Ms. Foster would “love” him more.
The bottom line: Celebrities who publicly attempt to induce their fans – who they know to include people like Hinckley – to murder or injure people identified by the celebrity should be prosecuted for their knowing solicitation of the crime they are hopeful will be committed by someone.
If you disagree, perhaps you might ask Ms. Foster, or even … Mr. Hinckley.
Then again, what say you, Maxine Waters?
Clifford C. Nichols – a former research associate of The Heritage Foundation – is an attorney licensed to practice law in both California and New Mexico.