What links Kyle Rittenhouse, Stephen Bannon, and Paul Gosar: their attempts to avoid accountability
In 1989 I was a reporter on a Contra Costa County newspaper. I lived in shared housing in El Cerrito. One day I came home to find a several-page, single-space letter on my desk, a crude film script of a snuff film in which the victim's name was Martha. I knew who did it, a guy upstairs in the house. I spent that night at a friend's home. I phoned my editor, my lawyer, and my therapist. I had no legal recourse. Free speech, threat of violence implicit but not explicit, Contra Costa County DA would not be likely to prosecute. I took 3 days off work, hired a gang of very large Oakland guys to move my stuff into storage, spent the following month staying with friends while looking for a place to live. I took a women's self-defense class, because I had No. Legal. Recourse. I want Gosar prosecuted with all possible legal recourse. All. Legal. Recourse.
On the web page of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: " Please note that it’s a federal crime to threaten the life of a Member or staffer, and if callers make threats, either on the phone or on a voicemail, they will be prosecuted."
Wow. You picked a heavy subject today. "Unless those at the highest levels of government who foment or encourage violence--or remain...silent...are held accountable, no one in political life will be safe." Gosar is a a sociopath who is not being held accountable by any of our Congressional leaders. They definitely could censure him in the House. It needs to be done for more people than just Gosar. Your question is, "Who is responsible for political violence?" I would rephrase that as, How might we put in better safeguards for political violence to hold people accountable for the instigation of such violence? I think the question is about gun violence (Rittenhouse) and another is about what the root cause of this violence is. We can always blame Trump who brought out the worst in people who came out of the woodwork when he was elected. Let's talk about the subject no one wants to talk about--the mentally ill. I am mentally ill. Because of something signed into law by Trump, if I am not mistaken, I can buy a gun. I am high functioning so I would never do such a thing, but there exist mentally ill people who could and would. Our entire system of policing needs to be re-imagined. We need vetting for new policemen and a public safety system equipped for handling the mentally ill with modes of de-escalation and treatment. Civil Rights Activist Angela Davis said that "Prisons relieve us of the responsibility of seriously engaging with the problems of our society." We need to re-imagine our prison system to allow for rehabilitation and education and real help for the mentally ill. Our system is broken. The NRA has a stronghold on this nation that seems unbreakable. Other developed nations do not allow citizens to have guns. They are peaceful, many neutral, countries that don't have problems like we do. We are too far gone for that luxury. Allowing people to foment violence without accountability is something our leaders need to work on. What is Merrick Garland waiting for? How can we have a more perfect union when people like Gosar or Marjorie Taylor Greene can get away with anything? I could talk all day about our police and prison system, but until it gets reformed, we need to hold people accountable for what they do and it is a real frustration that nothing is being done to remedy that.
I can't help but think back to 1954 of the words spoken from Joseph Welch, U.S. Army chief counsel, during the Joseph McCarthy communist trials against innocent American citizen. Welch’s words to McCarthy, “At long last, have you left no sense of decency” likely ended the communist witch hunt. Today, however, with the increased moral degradation of political and extreme radical groups, we’re not surprised that they’d laugh at those words and celebrate their defiance. If we do not aggressively prosecute and punish those who try to normalize horrific actions and behaviors, it will get worse than it already is. Every one of the individuals in this great post act as though they are immune to accountability, they've seen many before them get away with immoral, illegal and horrific acts, including those in the last administration. It’s time our country shows them they are not.
Kind'a makes you wonder when SCOTUS will rule that shooting people in public is protected political speech - where each bullet is a vote! When these "conservatives" embrace the "Stars & Bars," parading it through the Rotunda during a violent insurrection, how can we not recognize their clear message and intention ‽ Not China, not Russia, not even ISIS are more dangerous enemies to this Constitutional, democratic, republic - they're only these "conservatives'" best allies, in just the same way that what these "conservatives'" call their devil is the best friend that what these "conservatives" claim to be their god ever had.
When I saw the newspaper picture of Rittenhouse in the street holding the rifle, with a crowd of people in the background, I thought, how is that OK in the country I've lived in for 68 years? It's only wrong if you shoot someone?
Censure is ridiculous. Full expulsion! It worries me to no end that the Democrats prefer wrist slapping at a time when these very clearly unhinged psychopaths are allowed to threaten, damage, murder, violate the constitution at the highest level and remain on the streets. Are our military and police forces at such a level of mafia/delusion that there is no one to stop this!?
Is the preference for civil war? We were attacked! There has been actual attempted assassination and threats of it. Are politicians just sitting around figuring out if death attempts (Jan 6 and many others against leftist protesters) is part of a person’s right?!
We need immediate action against these criminals. There is no reason whatsoever that Trump et al can’t wait for his trial while under custody. There are laws that should be addressed here but they are not.
The judge in the Rittenhouse trial is as nutty as the Pillow Guy. Who set that up? The American people need answers. We demand answers or we will be without 2 parties. Do something or you will witness the collapse of the Democratic party as well. We aren’t going to support a party that doesn’t protect us or hold high crime criminals accountable.
I believe Issac Asimov said it best “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.” I will leave it there.
There may be free speech for Paul Gosar, but membership of the United States Congress requires a far higher standard. I think an explicit rule should be passed, that if any member threatens or insinuates violence against another member of government - or against anyone for that matter - that an investigation is in order with the possible consequence of expulsion. In the past I suppose such behavior was unthinkable so there was no need for such a rule, but it appears that times may have changed. I think there is a sea change happening in American politics, an evolution towards a just society, but unfortunately some are going to resist by suggesting violence and we have to protect ourselves: these individuals do not belong in Congress.
It seems that no one is being held accountable and responsible for their bad behavior. In some cases, the bad behavior is celebrated!
It seems that Paul Gosar is dangerous, but based on what you have said, I don't think law enforcement can do anything about it at this time. If law enforcement heard him actually plan to commit an act of criminal violence, they could act, but right now, the First Amendment would bar prosecution. Our legal system just doesn't have a mechanism for dealing with this. Trump & Co. seem to know how to stay just inside the boundaries of the law, while subtly provoking ordinary private citizens to do their dirty work for them.
I'm glad that Congress will vote on censuring him; it should be unanimous in favor, but unfortunately it won't. Republicans would rather censure their colleagues for voting for the infrastructure bill than for supporting political violence.
What elected officials, candidates, and the news media can and should do is relentlessly and vociferously call out this support of political violence as endangering our national security.
I am disappointed that Merrick Garland hasn’t brought more charges against officials who clearly committed treason, assault, contempt of Congress, etc. I can understand he may be reluctant to appear to be purging political rivals and he may wish to avoid creating martyrs, but the behavior is criminal. Not holding them accountable does great harm to the public’s trust in government.
What I remember from last November's elections was a sense of dread mixed with bit of fear by just seeing so many gigantic pickup trucks cruising the streets sporting their MAGA/Trump flags. It felt like a show of force, just daring you to a challenge them. And in my neighborhood, for the most part, the only election signs were for local races, with very few signs for the presidential race. It seemed as if everyone was definitely laying low, trying not to draw attention to whatever political affiliations they might have. Unfortunately this sense of dread has not gone away with everything happening this past year. Even if voting rights reform is passed, I fear the upcoming mid-term elections will be even more contentious, and prone to much greater violence. The only way I see things improving is if and when those responsible for inciting and planning the Jan 6th insurrection are held strictly to account, and soon!
I previously said in this forum that at best the law can only set the low bar for behavior; you cannot legislate good behavior. Ultimately, society depends on decency, not law. This is in no small part because, as history shows, indecent people create bad laws (e.g., slavery, women not having the vote, ...), and enforce good laws badly (e.g., police violence, differences in sentencing, ...). The problem here is the lack of universal, irrepressible outrage among congresspersons, the lack of decency that makes it okay to threaten and inspire and direct violence against members of government and against the operation of government and those in government don't say this is a line that cannot be crossed. We have a decency problem in the United States. We have had it since the beginning, we have nurtured it with the false ethos of rugged individualism, and the abandonment of society for the glorification of the individual at any and all costs. We need a social revolution. We knew this in the 60s, tried and failed to get far enough. The current cohort of young adults is appropriately disgusted, and that is our only hope.
Brilliant analysis, as usual. Once again, I read your newsletter while thinking to myself how much progress could come to us if more members of Congress and the Biden Administration read it too. Keep on keeping on. This is wisdom that is utterly lacking in most other public platforms, including, unfortunately, the major news media.
When I first heard about Paul Gosar’s “cartoon”, my thoughts immediately went to Gabby Giffords.
Accountability, as Jennifer Gosar points out, is seriously missing. Until people are held to account this madness will, not only continue, but escalate. In terms of crime and war it is called just that, escalation.
Enough us enough! It is beyond time to call these people out and hold them accountable for their actions and their words (cartoons, too!).