Sunday, October 12, 2008

Crowded Theater. Man Screaming, "Kill him!" No One Can Anticipate the Result!

"No one was deliberately evil. We all did the best we could."
- Sofia Mendes, Children of God by Mary Doria Russell

I think of the guy who screamed out "Kill him!" during a McCain rally when McCain asked, "Who is the real Barak Obama?".

What did screaming man want to happen?
Why did he want it to happen?
Did he expect someone to act on it? Will he act on it?

What about the candidates and their campaign managers who were deliberately whipping up the anger and the fear of Obama as president? Did they want this? Will they be shocked, SHOCKED that someone made this comment?

It's interesting that the guy wasn't responding to something like, "What can we do to bring this guy Barak Hussein Obama down?" It is also interesting that after the guy's comment McCain didn't respond. Is a non-response a response? What if McCain had said, "Go get 'em!" As I'm sure many would argue, that still wouldn't make McCain responsible if anything bad happened. Or would it? What would it tell you about McCain?

Is it okay to whip up fear and anger toward a man who will become the leader of the free world as long as you just don't say the actual violent action words?

How does the guy who screamed out "Kill him" at the McCain rally justify his comment? If he believes that Obama needs to die for the good of his country does that make him evil, or, because in his mind he is suggesting the right thing for the country, a patriot?

Should there be any consequences to him for suggesting this? First let's get away from what the government can and should do about this. When people talk about the First Amendment and free speech they are talking about what the government shouldn't limit. Let's look at the way the commercial world works.

  • Should "Kill him" guy be hired by profit-making corporations who know of his comments?

  • Should "Kill him" guy be fired by a profit-making corporation who know of his comments? What if this is a pattern and not a one-time comment?

  • Should he be hired by profit-making corporations because he is now very popular among people who agree with him?

  • Will organizations that want to reach his fans send him logo wear for him to wear?

  • What if an organization doesn't agree with his suggestion, but really really want to get to his friends and followers?Is it okay for them to associate with him then?

  • What if the marketing people told the CEO that you have to have their logo on the "Kill him" guy's shirt? " Boss, we really need to reach the demographic that wants Obama dead and this is the go to guy for that. The people love him!"

When the Secret Service identifies "Kill him!" guy as an employee for say, American Big Car Company. Will the car company say,
We are the proud employer of the guy who screamed "Kill him!" during the McCain rally, said vice president of marketing for American Big Car Company, Julius Streicher.

We have told him, "Good job! Keep it up. We here at American Big Car Company believe that McCain is good for business" In fact we are sending him to more rallies. You will notice him because he is now wearing an American Big Car Company hat and shirt and our logo/tattoo is right next to the very mouth that shouted, "Kill him!"

We have reminded "Kill him!" guy that we here at American Big Car Company support his calling for the death of a candidate for president. We hope that someone listening to him will act on his suggestion and will drive a American Big Car to their task. Our goal is to make money and we want the world to know that "Kill him!" guy works for us. He speaks for us and he represents the views of half of all our customers and half of all our employees.
"Kill him" guy's comments are now tied to our brand. We are convinced that the people who disagree with the "Kill him!" guy won't notice him or our logo on his shirt and hat. If they do, well it's not like we forced him to flap his gums! We simply know his history of saying things like this, we know what he is going to say at the next rally and we know who he is going to say it to. We believe the line, "All publicity is good publicity." Unlike those silly people at Nike who dumped Micheal Vick, we embrace "Kill him!" guy and look forward to a long and profitable associate with him."

How do we deal with people who, with their words, want to inflict harm to political candidates or their followers? Should it be a money making activity? What of the people who want to incite others to violent action with their words? Perhaps they believe that what they are saying is for the best. If you come at the world with the view of Sofia Mendes that "No one was deliberately evil." you would look for understanding.

  • But what if the people DID understand what they were saying?
  • What if they knew exactly what the words would lead to?
  • What if they hoped that the words would lead to action?
  • What if that action would harm people? Get them killed?

I think of the guy who screamed out "Kill him" regarding Obama during a McCain rally and I wonder:

Where else do we hear people like this today?


Blogger Noni Mausa said...

How do we deal with people who, with their words, want to inflict harm to political candidates or their followers?

We already know what a country looks like which has gone down the road of political assassination as one of many strategies, a commonplace in the body politic.

It cannot coexist with democracy.

At least, not democracy as it has been practiced in North America and other stable western nations. Look at Pakistan. Look at Zimbabwe.

In North America, up until now, our definition of "trouble with elections" involves things like machines that don't work or mishandled voting lists or misleading advertisements.

In other nations, they say they have had a good election when the body count is not very high.

The addition of violence to the electoral process inevitably pushes a country in the direction of dictatorship and totalitarianism -- if only because candidates increasingly need to physically defend themselves from assassination. This pattern of defense leads to isolating them from the population at large, and making them feel (rightfully so) threatened.

The assassination of Obama would not simply be a crime or a tragedy. I believe it would inevitably move the United States to the assassination model of political interaction at all levels of government. This would be a stake through the heart of the democratic process, and as has been proven in other nations, probably difficult or impossible to reverse once in place.

I am, of course, horrified by the words I have just written.


5:30 PM  
Blogger kelley b. said...

We would expect that the Secret Service would detain the individuals for questioning.

The last time I heard, threatening to kill a president or a presidential candidate was a felony.

But once again, that doesn't hold true for Republicans.

...We already know what a country looks like which has gone down the road of political assassination as one of many strategies, a commonplace in the body politic.

It cannot coexist with democracy...

Agreed. Look at the country we live in, for instance. Assasination has been a political tool here ever since the 1860s- hence the need for a Secret Service.

6:19 PM  
Blogger spocko said...

The reality is that all President's are going to be a focus of some crazy person with a weapon. Reagan was and Ford was.

Were there people who ran against them who made suggestions that revved up the hate? It is different knowing what we know about Presidents and crazy people.

5:08 PM  
Blogger Rich said...

on the lighter side, this is really funny and not so off-topic

Batman vs. The Penguin: The Debate

4:06 PM  
Blogger Rich said...

And, McCain says he's proud of everyone who comes to his rallies.

12:32 PM  
Blogger spocko said...

Thanks Rich. I love the clip of Batman and the Penguin.
Some of the same techniques used today!

I noticed on the radio the use the 'a few bad apples" line about the people attending. Same line that they used to describe the people involved with torture. When in fact there were a LOT of bad ones. A whole Orchard worth as well as some bad Apple tree planters who made it all possible. Yoo and the people who worked to make it legal.

5:33 PM  
Blogger Kaiser said...

I don't think we should be so worried about this. What kind of idiot would actually have the guts to go out and shoot a popular presidential candidate after all the scorn coming from the media? And it's not like the Secret Service is letting this go unnoticed. Besides, I'll bet the guy was just really worked up over the whole campaign. Certainly he wasn't well-informed.

What else is McCain supposed to do? While he didn't actually reprimanding this guy, isn't that better than him actively supporting that kind of talk? Heck, he actually did reprimand a woman at another rally. I don't see anyone mentioning that.

He said he's proud of those who come to his rallies in general. He means he's proud of the people who have the drive to support the candidates and participate in the political process. He said nothing about the people's views.

And your comment about the "bad apple planters who made it possible"... bad taste. No question.

4:19 PM  
Blogger Metro said...

This post has been removed by the author.

7:19 AM  
Blogger Metro said...


"Bad taste"? Not so. Merely an observation, and an accurate one. Palin's been stumping around all-but-screaming the words "nigger radicals."

When they blow the silent dog whistle, they shouldn't pretend to be surprised when rabid rottweilers crawl out of the woodwork.

7:20 AM  
Blogger shrimplate said...

I guess it all boils down to that thing about freedom and eternal vigilance.

Over at The Crack Den I've asked this: What are we going to do with all these people? There aren't enough short buses; you know, the special kind with metal mesh or bars over the windows.

8:51 PM  
Blogger Metro said...

Well I understand there may soon be a vacant facility in Cuba ...

7:02 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home