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Psalm 109:8 and CafePress - Trawling for Violence
November 19, 2009 2:25 PM   Subscribe

The Christian Science Monitor asks: is the slogan "Pray for Obama - Psalm 109:8" an amusing inside joke or an offensive call for assassination? On the Rachel Maddow Show, Frank Schaeffer argues that it's pretty clearly the latter - or something close to it [yt]. When the text of Psalm 109:8 - "Let his days be few; and let another take his office." was brought to their attention, CafePress and Zazzle stopped allowing merchandise with the slogan to be sold. That decision was reversed today.

A CafePress e-mail from yesterday stated,

"As you may know, CafePress.com provides an automated service to a rich and vibrant community of international users. Unfortunately, because our service is automated, sometimes content that is not consistent with our Offensive Material & Prohibited Content policy is posted on CafePress.com. We appreciate that you have brought this content to our attention and it has been removed from our site. Please let us know if we can be of further assistance."

Zazzle made a similar announcement:

Today, however, CafePress reversed their decision and will reinstate Psalm 109:8 merchandise on their website with this statement

"Anti-presidential gear has been a mainstay at Cafepress since we were founded in 1999 and has become a key component of political discourse. Our site has become a cultural barometer of public opinion and as such designs often come into question. In managing our content we are trying to protect self expression, while making sure we are not advocating violence.

We initially pulled the Psalm 109:8 content from our products today because broader media dialog indicated that these designs potentially suggested violence towards the president. Based on current public discourse and further review of the actual content, we have determined that it is fair political commentary and we are in the process of reinstating this merchandise. As with all of our content, these designs will continue to be reviewed and if at any time their meaning is construed as advocating violence we will revisit our decision."

The Boston Globe reported last month that President Obama receives 400% more death threats than President Bush.
posted by brozek (416 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's the next verse, Psalm 109:9, that makes the intention of Psalm 109:8 clear:

May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow.
posted by turaho at 2:30 PM on November 19, 2009 [61 favorites]


Who Would Jesus Assassinate?
posted by Joe Beese at 2:31 PM on November 19, 2009 [18 favorites]


is the slogan "Pray for Obama - Psalm 109:8" an amusing inside joke or an offensive call for assassination?

Yeah it's offensive and wrong. Anyone I see wearing that had better run.
posted by nola at 2:33 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


CafePress: serving your shitty iron-on transfer needs with a 3500% markup since 1997!
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:34 PM on November 19, 2009 [18 favorites]


On one hand, it's completely fucking disgusting.

On the other hand, if someone were to make a shirt like that about Bush when he was in office, I'd probably agree with the sentiment.

So...
posted by kathrineg at 2:35 PM on November 19, 2009 [6 favorites]


Yeah it's offensive and wrong. Anyone I see wearing that had better run.

So threatening people is wrong so if you see someone doing it you're going to...threaten them?
posted by kathrineg at 2:36 PM on November 19, 2009 [8 favorites]


Do they print those in white hoods?
posted by qvantamon at 2:36 PM on November 19, 2009 [27 favorites]


If you'd like to contact CafePress, the information's all right here.
posted by brozek at 2:37 PM on November 19, 2009


It's the next verse, Psalm 109:9, that makes the intention of Psalm 109:8 clear

That certainly true if you care about things like what the Bible actually means in context. But there's a pretty big segment of Christian pop culture that likes to take a verse here or there completely out of context and use it like a motto or personal mantra. Things like the Prayer or Jabez or the ubiquity of Jeremiah 29:11 catch on through precisely that kind of picking and choosing. Because the Bible is a magic book and each individual verse might just be the word of the Lord for me today, or so I'm told.

Which is to say, I don't normally give the benefit of the doubt to rabid Republicans, but I could certainly believe that a decent percentage of the people who buy these things look only at verse 8, like what it says, and then buy it. Christian bookstores have already trained them to approach their sanctified purchases in just that way.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 2:37 PM on November 19, 2009 [25 favorites]


Seriously?

Let his days be few; and let another take his office.


They're saying they only want him to serve one term. That's pretty tame, and I really don't see what this constant shouting of "OMG assassination" every time someone makes a joke proves.

Of course the real threats should be taken seriously. But being against perfectly legitimate speech on the grounds that it could somehow "incite violence" is shortsighted, un-American, and just a really really bad idea.
posted by drjimmy11 at 2:39 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oooh ooh is this where we get to do competitive Biblical quotation like Pokemon battles because if so, Proverbs 6:16-19 I choose you
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 2:40 PM on November 19, 2009 [45 favorites]


Right-wingers who make, buy, and wear this shit are terrorists and should be treated as such.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:41 PM on November 19, 2009 [6 favorites]


Pater, you're one of my favorite people on Metafilter, I can't believe you're defending this in any way. The context is clear enough as a single statement, psalm 109:9 just makes it especially damning.
posted by onalark at 2:44 PM on November 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yes, there are laws against making threats against the President. Yes, Timothy McVeigh was wearing the famous "tree of liberty, blood of tyrants" T-shirt when he was arrested.

But ... please.

Next up, we'll be banning Shakespeare because of the Henry VI line, "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers."

OMG, Obama was a lawyer! And his wife, too!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:45 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]



Oooh ooh is this where we get to do competitive Biblical quotation...


Ezekiel 23:19-21. So sayeth the lord. So sayeth we all.
posted by logicpunk at 2:45 PM on November 19, 2009 [22 favorites]


Well, either it's a call to assassination or it's a verse used out of context. Either way, it demonstrates a shallow, secular usage of the scripture, and any real Christian should be furious and speak out against it, just as I would be furious if somebody used the story of Cuchulainn to argue for an end to whiskey.

That may not have been a good parallel. I am only capable of understanding the world through Irish mythology and whiskey.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:48 PM on November 19, 2009 [22 favorites]


But there's a pretty big segment of Christian pop culture that likes to take a verse here or there completely out of context and use it like a motto or personal mantra.

I call dibs on Ezekiel 23:19-21!
posted by mikelieman at 2:48 PM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]



> kathrineg

So threatening people is wrong so if you see someone doing it you're going to...threaten them?

Saying that you are praying for the death of the duly elected President is going to get you a confrontation from me.


On the other hand, if someone were to make a shirt like that about Bush when he was in office, I'd probably agree with the sentiment.

I can't agree less with that sentiment.

I worked to get Obama elected. I gave money and I cast my vote. Just like they did with Bush. They arn't just threating him, they are saying by extension that they would like to overthrow my democratic rights in a way that I would never be willing to do to them.

Yeah they're looking for a fight and if a fight they want a fight they'll get.
posted by nola at 2:48 PM on November 19, 2009 [11 favorites]


logicpunk, I owe you a coke!
posted by mikelieman at 2:48 PM on November 19, 2009


More on the chapter and verse, along with a pretty convincing argument that could be used to demonstrate those who use it as a way of bashing Obama or wishing him ill don't really know the actual meaning of the text. (Yes, this item was written well before Obama got elected.)

In any case, I don't think that this rises to the level of bannable offense.
posted by blucevalo at 2:49 PM on November 19, 2009


The Boston Globe reported last month that President Obama receives 400% more death threats than President Bush.

That's a strange way of saying five times as many.
posted by rokusan at 2:50 PM on November 19, 2009 [15 favorites]


Next up, we'll be banning Shakespeare because of the Henry VI line, "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers."

Oh, bullshit. This isn't Shakespeare, this is real life, and religious terrorism has already displayed its very real consequences.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:50 PM on November 19, 2009 [16 favorites]


For those of you who think this isn't a threat on the man's life I'll say this, I grew up in a fundy church I know these people and it is without a doubt a threat, a hope. a prayer for Obama's death. It is.
posted by nola at 2:51 PM on November 19, 2009 [22 favorites]


I can't agree less with that sentiment.

I worked to get Obama elected. I gave money and I cast my vote. Just like they did with Bush. They arn't just threating him, they are saying by extension that they would like to overthrow my democratic rights in a way that I would never be willing to do to them.

Yeah they're looking for a fight and if a fight they want a fight they'll get.


They would be threatening him, if prayers worked, but they don't, so saying "I'm praying for you to keel over and die! Praise Jesus!" isn't actually a threat.
posted by kathrineg at 2:51 PM on November 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


onalark: Pater, you're one of my favorite people on Metafilter, I can't believe you're defending this in any way. The context is clear enough as a single statement, psalm 109:9 just makes it especially damning.

Recalling my days at a fundie high school, I'm going to have to go with Pater on this one. I'm sure that there are some people who enjoy the ambiguous possibility of violence implicit in the verse, but really, honestly, truly, the vast majority of fundamentalist Christians see each verse in the Bible as single services of Truth rather than a handy coordinate system for finding which part of a very large collection of literature someone is referring to. In other words, they see verse eight as a discrete unit; verse nine is also a discrete unit that follows eight, and can even be combined with it to make a string of thoughts, but they exist wholly unto themselves in the eyes of many, many readers.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:52 PM on November 19, 2009 [9 favorites]


That T shirt is their way of saying they're done talking.
posted by nola at 2:53 PM on November 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


A hope and a prayer are not threats because praying doesn't work.

God /= A machete
posted by kathrineg at 2:53 PM on November 19, 2009


When they're praying for someone to take a shot at him, it's more like encouraging the less sane members of their group to go out and do it.
posted by stavrogin at 2:55 PM on November 19, 2009 [17 favorites]


Well, clearly(!), the democrats just need to wish to their personal sky-man and savior harder. It's the only way to save Obama from a smiting, amirite?
posted by axiom at 2:55 PM on November 19, 2009


Charming.
posted by Artw at 2:56 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


In other words, they see verse eight as a discrete unit; verse nine is also a discrete unit that follows eight, and can even be combined with it to make a string of thoughts, but they exist wholly unto themselves in the eyes of many, many readers.

Which is useful, because it prepares them to take every quote presented to them by the Media out of context, too.

In a way, this is perfect for the Twitter generation. Most discrete units of thought in the bible are well under the character limit.

Heck, why put the bible in an order at all? If each phrase in a discrete unit, it makes about as much sense to randomly generate the order of the whole darn thing.

Also, "Bush, Deuteronomy 23:1"
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:57 PM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


And while we're on the subject maybe someone can tell me what the hell this is about.
posted by nola at 2:57 PM on November 19, 2009


Our site has become a cultural barometer of public opinion

Poorly designed, ill fitting garments that nobody wants are the pre-shrunk, 100% cotton mercury of the zeitgeist. Who knew.
posted by fire&wings at 2:59 PM on November 19, 2009 [10 favorites]


And while we're on the subject maybe someone can tell me what the hell this is about.

At a quick guess - racist assholism?
posted by Artw at 2:59 PM on November 19, 2009


When they're praying for someone to take a shot at him, it's more like encouraging the less sane members of their group to go out and do it.

"Will nobody rid us of this non-white president?"
posted by Artw at 3:00 PM on November 19, 2009 [10 favorites]


"Won't anyone rid me of this troublesome president?"
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:01 PM on November 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


I just hope CafePress do merchandising for Stormfront or there is discrimination going on.
posted by Artw at 3:02 PM on November 19, 2009


Damn you, Artw.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:03 PM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


They're saying they only want him to serve one term. That's pretty tame, and I really don't see what this constant shouting of "OMG assassination" every time someone makes a joke proves.

Some translations, like this one, specify that "his days" means his life, not his term.

You'll also see that the Psalm is a prayer by someone who's being harassed by other people. The exact line is quoting those people, and is shortly followed by, "Those are the cruel things my enemies wish for me. Let it all happen to them!"
posted by zerbinetta at 3:04 PM on November 19, 2009 [7 favorites]


This all just still raises the question, when will Christian fundamentalists stop eating shrimp!
posted by redbeard at 3:05 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Taken as a whole, Psalms 109 seems to fit the typical Christan Conservative persecution complex pretty well.
posted by brundlefly at 3:07 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


The First Amendment doesn't mean you're not still a jerk.

I read Black Summer, which imagines an assassination of Bush, Cheney, and many senior advisors, but still comes around to the conclusion that THIS IS NOT A THING YOU SHOULD DO.
posted by GameDesignerBen at 3:11 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Could Obama not just actually persecute the weirdos? It seems like it would make everyone happy, including them.
posted by Artw at 3:11 PM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Clearly, the best strategy here is to do whatever possible to drive everyone but atheists away from the Democratic Party through broad anti-religion rhetoric.
posted by The World Famous at 3:11 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Black Summer... god, there was some Ellis by numbers.
posted by Artw at 3:11 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yup. Pater Aletheias is correct on this one. Most fundies view individual Bible verses as separate "atoms" of divine wisdom which can be removed whole from the text and applied to daily life according to the urgings of the Holy Spirit.

This is why they use context-free verses from First Corinthians to condemn being gay (or, specifically, being "girly-men") but can safely ignore the context-free verses where Paul talks about how awesome it is to be unmarried and celibate or how women need to STFU in church.
posted by Avenger at 3:11 PM on November 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


It's not out of context. In Bruegemann's textbook on the Psalms he says Psalm 109 is problematic; many Jews and Christians never use it. It's more of a curse than a prayer. It is a rather hateful thing to say about B. O.
posted by bukvich at 3:12 PM on November 19, 2009


brundlefly: "Taken as a whole, Psalms 109 seems to fit the typical Christan Conservative persecution complex pretty well."

A complex that features in Nate Silver's "10 Reasons That Sarah Palin Could Win the Republican Nomination".
posted by Joe Beese at 3:13 PM on November 19, 2009


It may be a threat, it may not be a threat, but I'm pretty sure that if this shirt had been around and getting publicity during the Bush administration, the cries of "Treason!" would have been shouted loudly from the rooftops of Fox News et al. and there would have been a lot of hysterical nattering about wartime and treason and traitors and what happens to treasonous traitors in wartime etc.
posted by rtha at 3:13 PM on November 19, 2009 [21 favorites]


Ah christianity, may your days be few....
posted by sundri at 3:14 PM on November 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


They're ba-ack:

Based on current public discourse and our determination of what it is fair political commentary, Psalm 109:8 products are still featured on our site.

Anti-presidential gear has been a mainstay at CafePress since we were founded in 1999 and has become a key component of political discourse. Our site has become a cultural barometer of public opinion and as such designs often come into question. In managing our content we are trying to protect self-expression, while making sure we are not advocating violence.

posted by mccarty.tim at 3:15 PM on November 19, 2009


They're saying they only want him to serve one term. That's pretty tame, and I really don't see what this constant shouting of "OMG assassination" every time someone makes a joke proves.

I don't go off halfcocked about the rightwing on this site. I've even stood up for people on the right when they get piled on here on metafilter. So when I say this is a dog wistle, this is code, I'm being very serious. This is code for "He must die". I don't know if anyone is going to do anything, but I do know what it means. It is their way of saying exactly that to those who know the code.
posted by nola at 3:16 PM on November 19, 2009 [29 favorites]


I really don't know what to do about these people. On the one hand, this shit is simply unacceptable in public. If I see someone wearing one of these I become Walter and he or she becomes Donny. On the other hand, the last thing I want is for people like this to be driven underground where we can't keep an eye on them. It's probably better, in the long run, for everyone to know who the barely-sentient violent morons are so that they don't surprise us when they come out of the woodwork. I just hope the secret service has its shit together.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 3:18 PM on November 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


Damn you, Artw. -- Pope Guilty

He does that. He does that a lot.

Artw: Ecclesiastes 2:12
posted by rokusan at 3:18 PM on November 19, 2009


I'm a big believer in the First Amendment and the "marketplace of ideas". Let people say whatever's on their mind and let everyone else decide for themselves whether the opinion is good or wacky.

That said, I think you'd have to be pretty gullible to believe that this was not originated as a call to violence. ( It's sad to think that we fight theocracy in other countries, but never seem to see it in our own - kinda reminds me of a little story about a plank and a splinter.)
posted by Benny Andajetz at 3:18 PM on November 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


Thoughtcrime.
posted by Nelson at 3:18 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Bring your family closer. To heaven.
posted by gman at 3:18 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


The World Famous: Clearly, the best strategy here is to do whatever possible to drive everyone but atheists away from the Democratic Party through broad anti-religion rhetoric.

Yeah, that's clearly what's going on here - just one more example of liberals hating religion. First we try to get businesses to stop printing veiled threats against the president's life, then next week, we'll try to get the Wal-mart greeter to stop saying "Merry Christmas!"
posted by brozek at 3:19 PM on November 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


I think it's pretty tasteless. Even if they do go with the interpretation of "Let him get voted out so that we get a good president," it's still bad. They're conveying a message about praying death on an elected president. Intent means nothing here. Now that they know what 108 is followed by, they should drop it. Sticking with it after you know better means it's a sick joke.
posted by mccarty.tim at 3:22 PM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


And you remember... Matthew ... 21:17!

There's a problem of mind-reading involved in trying to say who is thinking what with the verse, and I think it's fair to say it's not monolithic in any case. What Pater Aletheias describes rings true to me to for a lot of the folks I've known who like quoting SCRIPTURE! to suit their purposes.

But that doesn't mean there aren't people reveling maliciously in the nastier implications of the verse, it's more a question of whether those people with the uglier take on it are really the driving force behind what's otherwise a seemingly benign if fairly stupid and contraindicated deployment of biblical text. Divvying up the "get him outta office" folks from the "i hope he dies" folks (and, in between that, the folks who are more in the former camp but are willing to grok the possible gloss of the latter without blinking and realizing that's probably a good reason to drop it entirely) is a mug's game, though.
posted by cortex at 3:25 PM on November 19, 2009 [6 favorites]


I think this message would be more widely circulated if it was printed on counterfeit 20 dollar bills.
posted by Tube at 3:26 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'll take their Psalm 109:8 and raise them Matthew 25:41-46:

"Then [God] will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat,
I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,
I was a stranger and you did not invite me in,
I needed clothes and you did not clothe me,
I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

But, of course, y'know, that's not important.

'Cause, y'know, looking after people who are sick [e.g., making sure people don't die because of inadequate health care] is Nazi socialist communist Marxism. And we oughta make sure such Nazi socialist communist Marxism only has one term, 'cause, y'know, that's what Psalm 109:8 says.

Hm. Wonder if they read the whole fucking Psalm?

"Let his days be few; and let another take his office. Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow. [...]

" [...] because that he remembered not to shew mercy, but persecuted the poor and needy man, that he might even slay the broken in heart. As he loved cursing, so let it come unto him: as he delighted not in blessing, so let it be far from him."
posted by WCityMike at 3:26 PM on November 19, 2009 [28 favorites]


They know. My mother used to pray Psalm 109:8 straight through over Bill Clinton. At that time not many of the other fudies would have gone that far but now they are. Now they've got it on Tshirts.

> The World Famous: Clearly, the best strategy here is to do whatever possible to drive everyone but atheists away from the Democratic Party through broad anti-religion rhetoric.


This isn't anti religious TWF, this is anti something but it's not religion. I don't have a problem with religion. But for some people their personal faith isn't enough.
posted by nola at 3:27 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Bring your family closer. To heaven.

I'm kind of thick, but I really can't tell if that is a parody or not. I guess we'll find out tomorrow when they open up pre-ordering.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:29 PM on November 19, 2009


Clearly, the best strategy here is to do whatever possible to drive everyone but atheists away from the Democratic Party through broad anti-religion rhetoric.

Oh, fuck off. This is so disingenuous that your keyboard is sticky with disingenuousness sauce from the disingenuous burger you're chowing down on. This has nothing to do with atheism except for the standard Christian fantasies of persecution and marginalization.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:30 PM on November 19, 2009 [30 favorites]


Yeah, I'll take their Psalm 109:8 and raise them Matthew 25:41-46:
"Then [God] will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed...
"

Yes, we know. God hates liberals.
posted by rokusan at 3:33 PM on November 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


Since we're doing dueling Bible quotes, I'm going to play the Matthew 6:5-13 card, which might be as clear an indictment against people who choose to wear their piety on their sleeve (or on a coffee mug) as you'll ever find.

The money quote: "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men"
posted by deadmessenger at 3:33 PM on November 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


Pray for Bob Dole. Ezekiel 23:20.
posted by mccarty.tim at 3:35 PM on November 19, 2009


I could assume that the phrase on the shirt is in reference to the wearer.

And proceed to take the advice of said phrase.
posted by asfuller at 3:36 PM on November 19, 2009


They know. My mother used to pray Psalm 109:8 straight through over Bill Clinton.

Really, though, praying doesn't work, so it doesn't matter what she was praying. She could've been saying Hail Marys or practicing her version of Rapper's Delight.

It. Does. Not. Matter.

Wishing someone would die is pretty standard human behavior. If someone made a t-shirt that said "I hope George Bush and Dick Cheney die sooner rather than later" I would be cool with that.

Why? Because wishing doesn't make it so.
posted by kathrineg at 3:37 PM on November 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


WCityMike: "[...]"

tl;dr


PARY FRO OBAAM: MATTHEW 1:7
posted by boo_radley at 3:39 PM on November 19, 2009


Things get really, really ironic for the teabagging crowd when you read the psalm in its full context. Let's walk through the verses, which are being penned by King David of Israel:
O God, whom I praise, do not remain silent, for wicked and deceitful men have opened their mouths against me; they have spoken against me with lying tongues. With words of hatred they surround me; they attack me without cause. In return for my friendship they accuse me, but I am a man of prayer.(*) They repay me evil for good, and hatred for my friendship.
Translation: "A bunch of lying scumbags are saying terrible, hateful, baseless things about me, the rightful ruler of this country, despite all the good things I'm trying to do for them."
Appoint an evil man to oppose him; let an accuser stand at his right hand. When he is tried, let him be found guilty, and may his prayers condemn him. May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership. May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow. May his children be wandering beggars; may they be driven from their ruined homes.

May a creditor seize all he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor. May no one extend kindness to him or take pity on his fatherless children. May his descendants be cut off, their names blotted out from the next generation. May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the LORD; may the sin of his mother never be blotted out. May their sins always remain before the LORD, that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth.
The quoted verse (in bold), along with all the other curses, are being directed at all of the king's haters, the ones spouting lies and slander about him.
For he never thought of doing a kindness, but hounded to death the poor and the needy and the brokenhearted. He loved to pronounce a curse— may it come on him; he found no pleasure in blessing— may it be far from him. He wore cursing as his garment; it entered into his body like water, into his bones like oil. May it be like a cloak wrapped about him, like a belt tied forever around him. May this be the LORD's payment to my accusers, to those who speak evil of me.
Translation: "They're all hateful, angry people who love to criticize and persecute the poor and never say good things, so let the same persecution and lack of goodness befall them."
But you, O Sovereign LORD, deal well with me for your name's sake; out of the goodness of your love, deliver me. For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me. I fade away like an evening shadow; I am shaken off like a locust. My knees give way from fasting; my body is thin and gaunt. I am an object of scorn to my accusers; when they see me, they shake their heads.

Help me, O LORD my God; save me in accordance with your love. Let them know that it is your hand, that you, O LORD, have done it. They may curse, but you will bless; when they attack they will be put to shame, but your servant will rejoice. My accusers will be clothed with disgrace and wrapped in shame as in a cloak. With my mouth I will greatly extol the LORD; in the great throng I will praise him. For he stands at the right hand of the needy one, to save his life from those who condemn him.
Pretty self-evident.

(*) This particular line reminds me of another Biblical fiasco a few months back -- fundamentalists were attacking Obama for not attending the National Day of Prayer and instead, in the words of Robert Gibbs, "privately, he'll pray as he does every day." Cue the righteous outrage from the usual suspects... all of whom apparently forgot that little line from Jesus in Matthew chapter 6:
And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
I swear, sometimes I think I'm more Christian than some of these people, and I'm agnostic.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:42 PM on November 19, 2009 [77 favorites]


Man, this is a brilliant bloody move on their part.

They've essentially put forth a "No, it means 'The, Obama, the'" excuse, and they know they can get away with it because there's just enough elasticity in the interpretation of the verse for the "I'm pretty far to the left, but..." crowd to trot out the usual false equivalencies about how it's no worse than anything liberals did during the bush presidency.

Awesome.
posted by lord_wolf at 3:42 PM on November 19, 2009 [12 favorites]


Here is the entire Psalm 109.

Viewed as a whole, the irony of right-wing groups using this against Obama is overwhelming.

1 O God, whom I praise,
do not remain silent,

2 for wicked and deceitful men
have opened their mouths against me;
they have spoken against me with lying tongues.

3 With words of hatred they surround me;
they attack me without cause.

4 In return for my friendship they accuse me,
but I am a man of prayer.

5 They repay me evil for good,
and hatred for my friendship.

6 Appoint an evil man to oppose him;
let an accuser stand at his right hand.

7 When he is tried, let him be found guilty,
and may his prayers condemn him.

8 May his days be few;
may another take his place of leadership.

9 May his children be fatherless
and his wife a widow.

10 May his children be wandering beggars;
may they be driven from their ruined homes.

11 May a creditor seize all he has;
may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor.

12 May no one extend kindness to him
or take pity on his fatherless children.

13 May his descendants be cut off,
their names blotted out from the next generation.

14 May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the LORD;
may the sin of his mother never be blotted out.

15 May their sins always remain before the LORD,
that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth.

16 For he never thought of doing a kindness,
but hounded to death the poor
and the needy and the brokenhearted.

17 He loved to pronounce a curse—
may it come on him;
he found no pleasure in blessing—
may it be far from him.

18 He wore cursing as his garment;
it entered into his body like water,
into his bones like oil.

19 May it be like a cloak wrapped about him,
like a belt tied forever around him.

20 May this be the LORD's payment to my accusers,
to those who speak evil of me.

21 But you, O Sovereign LORD,
deal well with me for your name's sake;
out of the goodness of your love, deliver me.

22 For I am poor and needy,
and my heart is wounded within me.

23 I fade away like an evening shadow;
I am shaken off like a locust.

24 My knees give way from fasting;
my body is thin and gaunt.

25 I am an object of scorn to my accusers;
when they see me, they shake their heads.

26 Help me, O LORD my God;
save me in accordance with your love.

27 Let them know that it is your hand,
that you, O LORD, have done it.

28 They may curse, but you will bless;
when they attack they will be put to shame,
but your servant will rejoice.

29 My accusers will be clothed with disgrace
and wrapped in shame as in a cloak.

30 With my mouth I will greatly extol the LORD;
in the great throng I will praise him.

31 For he stands at the right hand of the needy one,
to save his life from those who condemn him.
posted by kanewai at 3:43 PM on November 19, 2009 [7 favorites]


Yeah, I'm gonna go ahead and declare that Ezekiel 23:20 is pretty much officially played out on the internet, let alone in this thread.
posted by EarBucket at 3:43 PM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


(waves cheap, plastic American flag made in China)
I WANT MY COUNTRY BACK WAAH WAAH WAAH

I don't understand the double standard - if people pulled similar shenanigans when Shrub was in office, Homeland Security would have shut that down in a heartbeat. Time to take off the gloves and make examples of these ignorant, violent rednecks.
posted by porn in the woods at 3:44 PM on November 19, 2009 [8 favorites]


Dangit Rhaomi, you beat me by 60 seconds, and offered an analysis to boot!
posted by kanewai at 3:45 PM on November 19, 2009


They've essentially put forth a "No, it means 'The, Obama, the'" excuse

No one who speaks Aramaic could be an evil man!
posted by cortex at 3:45 PM on November 19, 2009 [7 favorites]


is there nothing the bible can't do? the thing has a verse for everything!
posted by rainperimeter at 3:45 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wishing someone would die is pretty standard human behavior.

Expressing it, if that person is the President, is illegal.

The people involved in this are advocating and inciting the violent overthrow of our democratically-elected government. They are organized and receive aid and comfort from CafePress and other right-wing religious extremists.

These right-wingers have the same aims as the terrorists who bombed New York and Washington on 9/11 and should be treated as persona non grata, through incarceration in Guantanamo Bay and other terrorist prison facilities around the world, up to revocation of citizenship and deportation.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:48 PM on November 19, 2009 [9 favorites]


This is dangerous and irresponsible regardless of the supposed intent.

“I don’t believe there’s Christians who wish him ill will,” she says.
ORly. Sounds more like some kind of unofficial Christian fatwa and call to jihad. (I know, I'm over reacting.)

Somewhere right now there is some poor disturbed soul contemplating this and getting messages from god saying, "It's your time...You are the ONE!".
posted by snsranch at 3:48 PM on November 19, 2009 [7 favorites]


Really, though, praying doesn't work, so it doesn't matter what she was praying. She could've been saying Hail Marys or practicing her version of Rapper's Delight.

You're not very bright are you.
posted by nola at 3:50 PM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm wondering if I could maybe reclaim Proverbs 27:17 for the gays:

"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."
posted by hermitosis at 3:51 PM on November 19, 2009 [11 favorites]


Help me, O LORD my God; save me in accordance with your love. Let them know that it is your hand, that you, O LORD, have done it. They may curse, but you will bless; when they attack they will be put to shame, but your servant will rejoice. My accusers will be clothed with disgrace and wrapped in shame as in a cloak.

I'm thinking that Obama developed his entire political strategy around that right there.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 3:51 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Clearly, the best strategy here is to do whatever possible to drive everyone but atheists away from the Democratic Party threaten harm to everyone they disagree with through broad anti- religion rhetoric.

Even though I am a-religious I will often defend religion against indiscriminate attacks. There isn't any of this happening here.

109:8 is just a thinly disguised threat with a veneer of "plausible" deniability attached to it. I imagine the jackasses who thought this up really pulled a muscle patting themselves on the back with how fucking cleaver it was, oooh oooh it's obscure AND obtuse, perfect dog whistle material.

Just another brick in the wall of the legitimization and incrementation of hate.
posted by edgeways at 3:52 PM on November 19, 2009 [6 favorites]


>
Dude, it has all the answers. If you know the conclusion you want, the Bible can help you reach it. And if that doesn't work, feed it to a computer. You'll get some very convincing Bible codes.
posted by mccarty.tim at 3:54 PM on November 19, 2009


Job 13:5?
posted by boo_radley at 3:59 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Eh, it's offensive and wrong, and it demonstrates the empty-headedness of any drooling intellectual wet end that wears it, whether on their car or on their shirt (good one about the white hoodie, btw).

I mean, seriously- IMPEACH BUSH was the motto of choice for those who disagreed with 43; these assholes are either a) advocating widowing Mrs. Obama or b) so goddamn everfucking stupid that they failed to notice that other verse.

I'm good with either.
posted by Pragmatica at 3:59 PM on November 19, 2009 [7 favorites]


So it's taken fifteen years for Ezekiel 25:17 to fall out of favor, huh? Sorry, Quinten.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:01 PM on November 19, 2009


Wishing someone would die is pretty standard human behavior.

Expressing it, if that person is the President, is illegal.


No, it is not. Threatening them is illegal (just like it's illegal to threaten anyone else). I'm gonna go ahead and guess that CafePress' lawyers agree with me.

The people involved in this are advocating and inciting the violent overthrow of our democratically-elected government. They are organized and receive aid and comfort from CafePress and other right-wing religious extremists.


Really? There are people who are doing that, but these are not them. They are just assholes who wish Obama was not president and/or dead. I think it is a dumb thing to wish, and an even dumber thing to pray about, but c'est la vie.

Saying that they receive aid and comfort from CafePress, in an allusion to treason, is over the top. This is the same thinking that led to every criticism of Bush being called treason.

These right-wingers have the same aims as the terrorists who bombed New York and Washington on 9/11 and should be treated as persona non grata, through incarceration in Guantanamo Bay and other terrorist prison facilities around the world, up to revocation of citizenship and deportation.


No, I don't think so. Reading between the lines, you think they should be arrested, tortured, and held indefinitely. Is that a threat? Why or why not?
posted by kathrineg at 4:11 PM on November 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


Some days, when I'm really broke, I think of making wingnut t-shirts and selling them for mad loot and splitting the profits with various left organizations I support.

I suppose it's not worse than selling drugs...
posted by yeloson at 4:11 PM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


These right-wingers have the same aims as the terrorists who bombed New York and Washington on 9/11 and should be treated as persona non grata, through incarceration in Guantanamo Bay and other terrorist prison facilities around the world, up to revocation of citizenship and deportation.

so for the people that do read the verse as "one term and done" clearly deserve to be lumped in with those who want to kill him?

sarcasm
ya know, like the majority of (peaceful) muslims should be lumped in with radical muslims...right?
/sarcasm
posted by knockoutking at 4:13 PM on November 19, 2009


Pater, you're one of my favorite people on Metafilter,

I'm having a lousy day, so I stopped reading here and declared that my personal message from the Lord. I don't care what came after.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 4:15 PM on November 19, 2009 [23 favorites]


Oh, bullshit. This isn't Shakespeare, this is real life, and religious terrorism has already displayed its very real consequences.

Luke 23:34: "Then said Jesus, 'Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.'"

Then there are much, much bigger fish to fry than T-shirts on CafePress. These kinds of ZOMG sentiments give the crazies the Google fodder to feed their persecution fantasies. Without the reaction, it's just a T-shirt. I saw worse with Bush, and he deserved it.

I mean, guys showed up to townhall meetings with guns. I don't give a rat's ass what their T-shirts read when they were doing it. Go after the guns, not the T-shirts.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:16 PM on November 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


ya know, like the majority of (peaceful) muslims should be lumped in with radical muslims...right?

Let me ask you the same question, but let's say the peace loving Muslims were firing guns into the air next to the radical Muslims, and both were shouting "Death to American," and then somebody got online and said, "Of course, what the peace-loving Muslims mean is that America should have a long and healthy life and then die peacefully in bed at a very old age."
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:17 PM on November 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


The people involved in this are advocating and inciting the violent overthrow of our democratically-elected government. They are organized and receive aid and comfort from CafePress and other right-wing religious extremists.

I don't believe it's that clear cut. If it is, then I'm sure the Secret Service would be interested. You can always let them know (not being facetious).

For the record, I do think they're sending out a veiled message, but I don't think it's a direct threat. I do think it could foment more violence, however, but it's sort of along the lines of contributing to an environment where it becomes acceptable, not really threatening direct action.

I think these people are dangerous, but I don't think what they did with this verse was actionable. However, not for me to decide ...
posted by krinklyfig at 4:19 PM on November 19, 2009


mccarty.tim: "Dude, it has all the answers. If you know the conclusion you want, the Bible can help you reach it. And if that doesn't work, feed it to a computer. You'll get some very convincing Bible codes."

My first FPP was about this!
posted by brundlefly at 4:21 PM on November 19, 2009


I have a couple of out-of-context verses for these crazy right-wing so-called Christian douchebags:

"Judas departed, and went and hanged himself..." (Matthew 27:11)
"...go and do likewise." (Luke 10:25)
posted by Ratio at 4:22 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm having a lousy day, so I stopped reading here

I'm going to start subverting rhetorical norms by delivering opposed clauses that both contain compliments, just to simultaneously mess with and be nice to people, like e.g.

"Man, you know I really respect you, but I'm gonna be honest here and say that I think you kick ass at foosball."
posted by cortex at 4:23 PM on November 19, 2009 [24 favorites]


Prayer doesn't work? Tell it to Barnett Slepian.
posted by jdfan at 4:24 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Some days, when I'm really broke, I think of making wingnut t-shirts and selling them for mad loot and splitting the profits with various left organizations I support.

I've had that thought too, but I'd never sleep again. Or maybe I would, which would be even worse.

so for the people that do read the verse as "one term and done" clearly deserve to be lumped in with those who want to kill him?

Never heard of a useful idiot, have you?
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:29 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I had to Google that name, jdfan, and it's depressing how the second result (after the Wikipedia entry) is a really horrifying anti-abortion site.
posted by brundlefly at 4:29 PM on November 19, 2009


@jdfan Barnett Slepian was killed by a very non-supernatural bullet fired by a very religious and non-supernatural assassin. How did Prayer make that happen?


Please, regail us with tails of spontaneous limb-regrowth on the bodies of maimed religious folks and then tell us all about the power of prayer and not the cretinous actions of easily influenced sociopaths.
posted by NiteMayr at 4:30 PM on November 19, 2009


Let me ask you the same question, but let's say the peace loving Muslims were firing guns into the air next to the radical Muslims, and both were shouting "Death to American," and then somebody got online and said, "Of course, what the peace-loving Muslims mean is that America should have a long and healthy life and then die peacefully in bed at a very old age."

so you believe that there is only one way to read any information, right? clearly no information in the entire world is open to multiple interpretatiosn, right?

i am from "the bible belt" - i wouldnt be suprised if i saw a mother in a minivan wearing something like this. now does she want to kill obama? does she want obama killed?

now, if there i a guy who is buying six ak-47s and two sniper rifles wearing it, its another situation all together...

so if someone says "allahu akbar" after leaving a mosque with their family, does that mean that they are about to blow themselves up?

just because YOU read something one way does not mean that everyone does...if this was the case there would be one denomination in christanity - you DO understand that the different denominations read different things in much of the bible, right?

so when jefferson said "the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants" he meant for mcveigh to blow up the murrah federal building in OKC. obviously the entire state of virginia was in favor of it too, right? since "sic semper tyrannis" is their state motto...correct?
posted by knockoutking at 4:33 PM on November 19, 2009


No, it is not. Threatening them is illegal (just like it's illegal to threaten anyone else). I'm gonna go ahead and guess that CafePress' lawyers agree with me.

My buddy Peter Litwin of the band Coffin Break once had a song called "Kill The President" during Bush I. And I think they got a call from the Secret Service. But it wasn't deemed illegal. They'd deliberately worded it very carefully.

So in order to be ethically consistent I can't bitch about the Cafe Press thing and Obama.

First amendment, baby. Love it or leave it.
posted by tkchrist at 4:35 PM on November 19, 2009 [9 favorites]


I've spent the last year in my Master's program in linguistics researching and defining this notion of a dogwhistle. The definition I came up with, based on a wealth of data supporting this type of mixed messaging (not always political, religious, or even adult-oriented!) was as follows:

A dogwhistle is a speech act designed, with intent, to allow two plausible interpretations, with one interpretation being a private, coded message targeted for a subset of the general audience, and concealed in such a way that this general audience is unaware of the existence of the second, coded interpretation.

While a message on a t-shirt is not a canonical 'speech act', it is a form of communication, and it does meet all of the other criteria that lead to a divisive, off-record account of mixed messaging, meant to privately reinforce a particular power dynamic. This is a bona-fide dogwhistle of the worst kind. It's a little wink and bell ring to those who get the 'joke'. It creates two separate realities, with one them sanctioning a very dangerous and socially unacceptable idea. But this idea gets to be out in the open, and even defended, because of it's off-record nature.

And one of the biggest problems with this, and why dogwhistles even work in the first place, is that the speaker or the shirt-wearer or the seller can easily and plausibly deny any alliance with the negative connotation. We can't prove intent. Someone can easily say, "oh, that's not what I meant" or "I didn't even know the scripture continued on to say/mean that!" YET, anybody who doesn't call this person out gets to make an interpretation that either reinforces their belief system, or goes against it. So the person who thinks that shirt is offensive (knows and accepts the negative read) and sees somebody wearing it may think that the wearer either A) is unaware of the deeper meaning and is therefore ignorantly promoting something dangerous, or B) is aware of the deeper meaning and supports the idea of violence to our president. And what's worse? The person who thinks that shirt is great (and knows and accepts the negative read), they just got a wink from their secret club member.

Is this the sort of thing we should be promoting? If so, how much, and at what level? Should this type of inexplicit endorsement be encouraged? Regardless of the intent of the wearers, seers or sellers? Do companies and/or individuals have a moral imperative to 'read into' the potential divisive nature of their products and goods?

I don't have the answers to these questions, but I think the fact that these issues come into play here tells us something about where our discourse has wandered as a society. There are some real problems, but I also think there are some real opportunities to change things too. And we can learn a lot be really examining what happens, both internally and externally, when messages like this go out into the world, with all of their ambiguous interpretations meshing with the mass of ideological perspectives.

*I've created a pretty elaborate set of 10-valence criteria for identifying and defining a dogwhistle. I'd love to share and get feedback, so if interested, feel free to email me.
posted by iamkimiam at 4:37 PM on November 19, 2009 [49 favorites]


First amendment, baby. Love it or leave it.

EXACTLY.
posted by knockoutking at 4:37 PM on November 19, 2009


All of these offensive, threatening and sometimes seditious shirts serve an important self-regulating function: those that buy and wear them are in effect marginalizing themselves in public. There's no way most people will be talking to someone wearing reactionary slogans or hate speech on their bodies. Most people I know would actively avoid any interaction with them, period.

Besides, if it came down to a faceoff between Obama and a T-shirt reading nutbar, he'd do a Blazing Saddles on him.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 4:40 PM on November 19, 2009


Oh I don't know about this one. Yes, there is a record of racist rhetoric against Obama, like the Wesley Pruden/Moonie Times editorial that Rachel Maddow reads, and a dangerous fringe that the Secret Service is properly all over. But I am not convinced this shirt fits into it.

Under the worst possible reading, the shirt follows in the tradition of the loony "imprecatory prayers" of wingnut pastor Wiley Drake, who would lead his congregation in calling on God to curse liberal Supreme Court justices or the Rev. Barry Lynn. At best it is just your standard "I hope God keeps this tyrant far from us" schtick that might be worn by The Onion's Jean Teasdale.

During a George W. Bush appearance my brother got hassled for bringing a sign bearing a pretzel. The pretzel was a visual suggestion that Bush should choke on one and die. I would argue that hoping for Bush to go choke on a pretzel was not the same as encouraging someone to commit the crime of killing him. I would be a hypocrite if I continued to love my little brother's Bush pretzel sign, and the freedoms it stood for, only to rail against this shirt. 

Upon preview, tkchrist reflects my sentiments. I feel like people have maybe forgotten how creepy it was in 2002 or 2003 when we were all supposed to unite behind the president, the way Schaeffer is telling us to do here.
posted by Kirklander at 4:40 PM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


wearing, not reading..
posted by Hardcore Poser at 4:40 PM on November 19, 2009


just because YOU read something one way does not mean that everyone does...if this was the case there would be one denomination in christanity - you DO understand that the different denominations read different things in much of the bible, right?

True that. I'd be the last to argue that the Christians are a harmonious bunch. I'm arguing that reading "May your wife be a widow" as anything but "I hope you die" is an indication of abject stupidity.

Stupid or threatening, take yer pick.
posted by Pragmatica at 4:45 PM on November 19, 2009 [6 favorites]


They should just start selling dog whistles with "Psalm 109:8" on them.
posted by ooga_booga at 4:45 PM on November 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


Clearly, the best strategy here is to do whatever possible to drive everyone but atheists away from the Democratic Party through broad anti-religion rhetoric.

Clearly, any true Christian - anyone who takes the teachings of Jesus seriously - would be offended at these so-called "Christians" for what they've said and done.
posted by me & my monkey at 4:46 PM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Cortex's answer was spot-on.

My guess is that the average person googles this verse and likes it and buys the shirt and doesn't worry about anything else. When the question is raised, any internal guilt about the implications are assuaged by saying, "Well, I just mean he should be out of office..."

The problem, though, is that an environment in which tacit defenses against advocating Presidential assassination by people who would never commit such a crime themselves is an environment where Presidential assassination is too easily brandied about. Period.
posted by jefficator at 4:49 PM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Thomas Friedman | September 29, 2009: Where Did ‘We’ Go?
"I hate to write about this, but I have actually been to this play before and it is really disturbing.

I was in Israel interviewing Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin just before he was assassinated in 1995. We had a beer in his office. He needed one. I remember the ugly mood in Israel then — a mood in which extreme right-wing settlers and politicians were doing all they could to delegitimize Rabin, who was committed to trading land for peace as part of the Oslo accords. They questioned his authority. They accused him of treason. They created pictures depicting him as a Nazi SS officer, and they shouted death threats at rallies. His political opponents winked at it all.

And in so doing they created a poisonous political environment that was interpreted by one right-wing Jewish nationalist as a license to kill Rabin — he must have heard, 'God will be on your side' — and so he did.

Others have already remarked on this analogy, but I want to add my voice because the parallels to Israel then and America today turn my stomach: I have no problem with any of the substantive criticism of President Obama from the right or left. But something very dangerous is happening. Criticism from the far right has begun tipping over into delegitimation and creating the same kind of climate here that existed in Israel on the eve of the Rabin assassination. [more]
posted by ericb at 4:51 PM on November 19, 2009 [23 favorites]


First amendment, baby. Love it or leave it.

I'm pretty much with you on this one. I don't think it'd be prudent to try and make these stupid fucking shirts illegal. That said, I can't advocate treating someone who would wear one of these with anything less than outright contempt. These shirts scream "I am incapable of polite discourse" and I guess we have to react in kind.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 4:52 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm gonna go ahead and guess that CafePress' lawyers agree with me.

I'm gonna go ahead and guess that CafePress' lawyers are the same lawyers that give aid and comfort to folks like Ann Coulter and Michael Reagan.

They and their clients continue to give pretense of gee-shucks-style innocence while they further fund their violent agenda.

They convince their audience that violence is the only solution to reach their political goals, by using careful rhetorical gymnastics to be able to profess legal innocence when violence does occur and innocent people die.

Basically, we have a system of law enforcement that not only allows right-wingers to commit felony violence and treason, but encourages it by looking the other way while the rabble are roused.

The religious right-wing terrorists involved with this need to be thrown in jail, before we look back on the assassination of George Tiller, Bill Sparkman and Stephen Tyrone Johns, as well as the race-motivated shooting sprees by white supremacists in Tennessee in 2008 and Jim David Adkisson earlier this year as the start of things to come.

This is the same thinking that led to every criticism of Bush being called treason.

Virtually no one called for violent overthrow of the Bush administration. A lot called for impeachment, through the legal system, and for doing so were targeted for illegal surveillance by the FBI and NSA through abuse of the PATRIOT Act and other antiterrorism laws enacted after 9/11. If there was the vaguest sniff of violence, people were disappeared.

Still, we have a clear and present threat to President Obama, and we have the same excuses that were made to keep Coulter and Reagan from serving prison terms. It's disgusting.

Reading between the lines, you think they should be arrested, tortured, and held indefinitely. Is that a threat?

These religious terrorists should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. That's a "threat" to the extent as every one of us has an obligation to follow the law or is threatened with the consequences.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:55 PM on November 19, 2009 [12 favorites]


Stay classy, religionuts.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:55 PM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


First amendment, baby. Love it or leave it.

The first amendment says that the government can't tell people they can't wear these shirts. I agree with that wholeheartedly.

The first amendment doesn't say I can't think that anyone wearing these shirts is an ignorant, hateful, evil person.
posted by EarBucket at 5:00 PM on November 19, 2009 [11 favorites]


just to clarify, people do understand that it is possible to a) dislike obama b) be religious and c) not want to kill obama all at once, right?

just because i am conservative, christian and disagree with obama on nearly every political viewpoint does not mean that i want to kill him...nor does it mean that to 99+% of the people out there.

i know people who are a, b and c AND watch beck and o'reilly and they dont want to kill obama, nor do they think he is the antichrist - they simply want he, and those who agree with his policies out of office. ...much like many people with bush. many people disagreed with him, many people hated him, many people wanted him out of office. that said, 99+% of people did not want to kill him.

i just dont get the whole lumping everyone who has ever been in church, ever watched fox news, did not vote for obama, dislikes any of obamas policy, or is conservative into the whole "obama should die" camp...
posted by knockoutking at 5:20 PM on November 19, 2009


Red State Blog Praises the Commander-in-Chief for visiting wounded at Fort Hood. (No...wrong guy...)
posted by jefficator at 5:21 PM on November 19, 2009


i just dont get the whole lumping everyone who has ever been in church, ever watched fox news, did not vote for obama, dislikes any of obamas policy, or is conservative into the whole "obama should die" camp...

Nobody's doing that. People are saying that if you approvingly quote a Bible verse that says "Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow," and link it to Obama, it's very hard to see how you're not wishing that he would die.
posted by EarBucket at 5:22 PM on November 19, 2009 [6 favorites]


just because i am conservative, christian and disagree with obama on nearly every political viewpoint does not mean that i want to kill him...nor does it mean that to 99+% of the people out there.

Ok, I'll grant you this. But if you put these shirts on, then it's reasonable that I think that you want to kill him. And then it'll get ugly. So do us all a favor and don't buy any of this stupid crap and I think we'll manage to get through this ok.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 5:23 PM on November 19, 2009 [4 favorites]



The first amendment doesn't say I can't think that anyone wearing these shirts is an ignorant, hateful, evil person.


It doesn't. That's true. you're free to think anybody is evil you want.

I however must be evil, hateful, and ignorant. Becuase I wished Bush and Cheney dead many, many, times. And prayers are kinda like wishes. Only more deluded.

So If I thought these people were hateful and evil for wearing a T-shirt that expressed an opinion of wanting the president dead I'd be a big hypocrite.

Rather I think these people are hateful and evil not becuase of the t-shirts they wear or the prayers the say but becuase of the hateful evil policies that they support — like war and denying people fundamental human rights. Actual hateful evil actions.
posted by tkchrist at 5:25 PM on November 19, 2009


i just dont get the whole lumping everyone who has ever been in church, ever watched fox news, did not vote for obama, dislikes any of obamas policy, or is conservative into the whole "obama should die" camp...

Well, I probably wouldn't get on with a lot of those people but I wouldn't automatically assume they were hateful morons.

However, as soon as they buy a not all that subtle "Obama would die" T-Shirt then, yes, they are definitely hateful morons.
posted by Artw at 5:26 PM on November 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


Had this shirt been made for president bush how many mefites would be angry at it?
posted by Addiction at 5:28 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't understand the double standard - if people pulled similar shenanigans when Shrub was in office, Homeland Security would have shut that down in a heartbeat. Time to take off the gloves and make examples of these ignorant, violent rednecks.

--

These right-wingers have the same aims as the terrorists who bombed New York and Washington on 9/11 and should be treated as persona non grata, through incarceration in Guantanamo Bay and other terrorist prison facilities around the world, up to revocation of citizenship and deportation.

No, seriously, fuck that noise. I didn't work to get Obama elected in order to give more excuses to build the Security State.
posted by orthogonality at 5:32 PM on November 19, 2009 [25 favorites]


Nobody's doing that. People are saying that if you approvingly quote a Bible verse that says "Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow," and link it to Obama, it's very hard to see how you're not wishing that he would die.

the verse in question:
(NASB) Psalm 109:8 - "Let his days be few; and let another take his office."

people take quotes, verses, everything out of context. to say that everyone who uses that one verse also wants for his children to be fatherless, and for his wife to be a widow is just reading WAY too much into it.

in fact, i bet that the majority of those who buy the shirt have NO CLUE what the next verse is in Psalms 109 (especially off the top of their head) -- and equally, i bet a large portion of people, if they knew what Psalms 109:9 said would not buy the shirts.

so if i approve of 109:8, and have no clue what 109:9 says that is something that is on me, yes. but does that mean i approve of 109:9?

a comparative situation: if a typical muslim gives money to a muslim organization, without knowing that the org is sending money to fund terrorist training camps in another country, are they supporting terrorism?

if i wear a USSR hockey jersey, do i support Stalin's actions?

people read WAY too much into things quite often.
posted by knockoutking at 5:36 PM on November 19, 2009


just because i am conservative, christian and disagree with obama on nearly every political viewpoint does not mean that i want to kill him...nor does it mean that to 99+% of the people out there.

I understand. I'm pretty sure no one here has advocated tarring and feathering all the conservative Christians who disagree with Obama. I mean, we might cluck our tongues a bit and shake our heads while we sip coffee in the mornings, muttering "NASCAR Republicans, laws, laws." But that's just friendly banter.

It's when "I disagree with you" turns to "I wish you were dead" that things take a turn for the stupid. Would you agree with that?
posted by Pragmatica at 5:39 PM on November 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


if i wear a USSR hockey jersey, do i support Stalin's actions?

Oh, come on. According to the GOP, trying to provide health care for poor people means you support Stalin's actions these days.
posted by EarBucket at 5:40 PM on November 19, 2009 [11 favorites]


It's the next verse, Psalm 109:9, that makes the intention of Psalm 109:8 clear

That certainly true if you care about things like what the Bible actually means in context. But there's a pretty big segment of Christian pop culture that likes to take a verse here or there completely out of context and use it like a motto or personal mantra. Things like the Prayer or Jabez or the ubiquity of Jeremiah 29:11 catch on through precisely that kind of picking and choosing. Because the Bible is a magic book and each individual verse might just be the word of the Lord for me today, or so I'm told.

Which is to say, I don't normally give the benefit of the doubt to rabid Republicans, but I could certainly believe that a decent percentage of the people who buy these things look only at verse 8, like what it says, and then buy it. Christian bookstores have already trained them to approach their sanctified purchases in just that way.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 2:37 PM on November 19

posted by knockoutking at 5:42 PM on November 19, 2009


Had this shirt been made for president bush how many mefites would be angry at it?
posted by Addiction


I would be for one.

i just dont get the whole lumping everyone who has ever been in church, ever watched fox news, did not vote for obama, dislikes any of obamas policy, or is conservative into the whole "obama should die" camp...


Just to be clear, that's not what I'm saying at all.
posted by nola at 5:43 PM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


posted by knockoutking at 7:42 PM on November 19 [+] [Flagged]

Did you mean to respond to his comment there or were you indicating it was so scandalous that it needed repeating in its entirety? It's his viewpoint, perhaps overly charitable, but valid nonetheless.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:45 PM on November 19, 2009


I didn't work to get Obama elected in order to give more excuses to build the Security State.

We don't even do that. Most law enforcement does not see right-wing and religious extremism as a threat.

And given the murders that have already happened and given the constant barrage of threats on the President's life, not to mention this obvious threat, it is clear that right-wing extremism is a clear and real threat to each and every one of us.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:46 PM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


"First amendment, baby. Love it or leave it.

EXACTLY."


That is so sad.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 5:49 PM on November 19, 2009


So threatening people is wrong so if you see someone doing it you're going to...threaten them?

I can't so for the original poster, but metaethics (e.g. do onto others as they would have done onto others) tells me that at the very least I should beat the ever living fuck out of them. I mean who am I to deny them the right to live in the world they so richly want, where disagreement is met with violence.

Don't get me wrong, I think the way to deal with people who disagree with you is to sit down and talk the them about it, maybe over a beer. But I think people need to stop thinking about themselves and start giving other people what they want.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:52 PM on November 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


It's when "I disagree with you" turns to "I wish you were dead" that things take a turn for the stupid. Would you agree with that?

yes, i agree with that from people who disliked bush to people who disliked obama. way too often people think that "i disagree with obama" means "i wish obama was dead" - if all people knew about me was that i was christian, disagreed with obama and had watched fox news in the past, what would their first thought be?

basically to me i see it as:
...if they buy it and read into it literally verse 8 and 9 and mean "i wish obama was dead" thats one thing (and the Secret Service SHOULD be involved)
...if they buy the shirt and read literally verse 8 ("lets his days be few, let another take his office") to mean"one term and done" thats totally different (which is obviously how cafepress and the secret service took it, that it was meant literally)

Oh, come on. According to the GOP, trying to provide health care for poor people means you support Stalin's actions these days.

keep in mind that hannity ≠ GOP and that hannity ≠ many/most conservative people as well as that GOP does always ≠ conservative

also socialist ≠ facist, stalin does not necessarily ≠ socialist, USSR ≠ stalin, marx ≠ stalin, etc etc etc
posted by knockoutking at 5:54 PM on November 19, 2009


basically to me i see it as:
...if they


Oh fuck that.

No delicate parsing or excuse making is required.

If they buy it then they are hateful moron, and fuck them.

The end.
posted by Artw at 5:55 PM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


posted by knockoutking at 7:42 PM on November 19 [+] [Flagged]
Did you mean to respond to his comment there or were you indicating it was so scandalous that it needed repeating in its entirety? It's his viewpoint, perhaps overly charitable, but valid nonetheless.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:45 PM on November 19 [+] [!]


just was saying it was there -- probably should have handled that better (damn you mefi for no editing! lol)
posted by knockoutking at 5:59 PM on November 19, 2009


...if they buy the shirt and read literally verse 8 ("lets his days be few, let another take his office") to mean"one term and done" thats totally different (which is obviously how cafepress and the secret service took it, that it was meant literally)

Well, let's just hope that enough Christians have read their bibles to be aware there's a Psalm 109:9, eh? Be a damnable shame for them to have the entire other side of the political spectrum think of them as drooling idiots, wouldn't it?
posted by Pragmatica at 6:02 PM on November 19, 2009


People wanted Bush impeached because of the real actions he did in the real world. Other people want Obama dead based on stuff they're making up in their own tiny minds.

No comparison.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 6:04 PM on November 19, 2009 [24 favorites]


As for letting people off the hook because they don't know the context of a Biblical pearl? Rubbish.
If the religion you wrap your life around is practiced at the level of some half-baked hobby you are an idiot. Ignorance is no excuse.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 6:07 PM on November 19, 2009 [9 favorites]


Oh fuck that.

No delicate parsing or excuse making is required.

If they buy it then they are hateful moron, and fuck them.

The end.

-artw


so you live in a very black and white world.

so wearing a USSR jersey = loves stalin
jefferson meant for mcveigh to do the OKC bombings

clearly the mom (who is christian, watches fox and disagrees with obama) driving a minivan to pick up her 3 kids wearing one of these shirts would run obama over if he was in front of her because she is a "hateful mororn" who wants to kill obama.

per your logic, all of those who were at the October 2008 Obama rally in Denver were in favor of severing Bush's head -- correct?
posted by knockoutking at 6:10 PM on November 19, 2009


Yeah, sure.

In terms of levels of ambiguity, this is like some idiot arguing that their swastika is a peaceful hindu symbol while frantically doing heil hitlers.
posted by Artw at 6:15 PM on November 19, 2009 [9 favorites]


And yes, your minivan mom most certainly can be a racist far right lunatic while driving a minivan to pick up her 3 kids. Purchase of the T-Shirt would be an absolute indicator of that.
posted by Artw at 6:17 PM on November 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


I actually find one of these shirts more offensive and unsettling than if someone was just going around wearing a Kill Obama/Bush/Clinton/etc. shirt. The fact that it is not open with its message so much as a conspiratorial on the sly wink towards an idea... It's like how I would assume someone saying "I'm going to f'ing kill that guy" was just blowing off some steam whereas if someone was making subtle offhand remarks about offing a guy I'd be a little creeped out.

And that's before addressing the (mis)use of religion. Not just wishing, but praying for harm to come to another person is wrong.
posted by Zalzidrax at 6:18 PM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sheldon: Why do you have the Chinese character for "soup" tattooed on your right buttock?
Penny: It's not "soup," it's "courage."
Sheldon: No it isn't. But I suppose it does take courage to demonstrate that kind of commitment to soup.
posted by maudlin at 6:18 PM on November 19, 2009 [9 favorites]


"per your logic, all of those who were at the October 2008 Obama rally in Denver were in favor of severing Bush's head -- correct?"

The link you provided points out a "satanic ear plug!" I happen to have that same design on my arm. So, people who see Satan everywhere want to argue the point about the meaning of symbols? Gosh.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 6:18 PM on November 19, 2009


knockoutking, you seem to be the only one here using as wide a brush as you're accusing everyone else of using.

No, not all conservatives are idiots.

No, not all Christians are bigots, or narrow minded puritanical illiterates.

Just the ones who wear the t-shirt/put the bumper sticker on. Get it? Hell, I'll defend their right to do it, but I'm also going to dismiss them as hateful simpletons.
posted by Pragmatica at 6:20 PM on November 19, 2009 [6 favorites]


People wanted Bush impeached because of the real actions he did in the real world. Other people want Obama dead based on stuff they're making up in their own tiny minds.

This, this, a million times this. All comparisons are stupid at best and maliciously dishonest at worst.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:23 PM on November 19, 2009 [11 favorites]


People who pray for the death of the president are assholes. I think they should have a right to be assholes, and have a right to their dissent -- as misguided and out of step with their loudly professed beliefs as it may be. Just like I should have a right to call them assholes for using their thinly veiled insider secret codes to state the hateful racist garbage they're too chickenshit to say to anyone's face.

That even the clueless and malicious have freedom is a feature, not a bug. Opening their mouths with this kind of crap reveals even more baldly the last decade of the wingnut contingent's supposed patriotism ("respect the office!" "with us or against us!") for the self-serving, nation-looting bullshit it always was. Keep it coming! More daylight on these hypocrites, please! More!
posted by majick at 6:25 PM on November 19, 2009 [6 favorites]


I'm gonna go ahead and guess that CafePress' lawyers are the same lawyers that give aid and comfort to folks like Ann Coulter and Michael Reagan.

You're seriously accusing CafePress' lawyers of TREASON? Honest to god, death-penalty, treason? For selling something that you don't like?

The sell "Give Bush Another Pretzel" shirts too. TREASON!

They have BushHitler shirts. Hitler is evil and deserved to die, therefore TREASON
posted by kathrineg at 6:25 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


knockoutking, you seem to be the only one here using as wide a brush as you're accusing everyone else of using.

If he repeatedly accuses people of doing it, he can put people on the defensive and make them behave as if it's true. It's the same principle the "damn liberal media!" strategy works under.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:26 PM on November 19, 2009 [6 favorites]


Yeah, sure.

In terms of levels of ambiguity, this is like some idiot arguing that their swastika is a peaceful hindu symbol while frantically doing heil hitlers.
posted by Artw at 6:15 PM on November 19 [+] [!]


if the person is covered in swastika tats, wearing a white hood and is at a klan meeting, your right.

if the person is hindu, and has one up in their prayer room, thats a completely different situation.

you refuse to see between the two situations.

a person buying a sniper rifle wearing the shirt and spewing threats to obamas life online ≠ a mother in a minivan picking up her kids at school wearing it.

should the first one be arrested? yes! they obviously have an intent to kill him
should the second one be arrested? no she obviously is not a criminal mastermind who is planning a complex attempt on obamas life

again, its like saying that everyone who watches fox news hates obama. or everyone who is conservative hates obama. or that everyone who hates/hated bush is libral. is everyone who is muslim hate america? do all jewish people support whats happening in gaza/west bank?

blanket labels are turrible, turrible, turrible
posted by knockoutking at 6:26 PM on November 19, 2009


It's like the logic-jump olympics in here.
posted by Artw at 6:27 PM on November 19, 2009 [15 favorites]


"a mother in a minivan picking up her kids at school"

But what if she's Sarah Palin!
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 6:30 PM on November 19, 2009


For selling something that you don't like?

If you think that's what this is about, you're either not very bright or just not paying attention.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:30 PM on November 19, 2009


knockoutking, you seem to be the only one here using as wide a brush as you're accusing everyone else of using.

No, not all conservatives are idiots.

No, not all Christians are bigots, or narrow minded puritanical illiterates.

Just the ones who wear the t-shirt/put the bumper sticker on. Get it? Hell, I'll defend their right to do it, but I'm also going to dismiss them as hateful simpletons.
posted by Pragmatica at 6:20 PM on November 19


except that no, not all people who wear the tshirt are bigots, racists, or want obama dead. thats the entire point.
posted by knockoutking at 6:30 PM on November 19, 2009


should the second one be arrested? no she obviously is not a criminal mastermind who is planning a complex attempt on obamas life

Nobody's saying she should be arrested! But if she wore that shirt in my presence, I would ask her if she knew what it meant. If she didn't I'd tell her and if, after acknowledging that she knows the meaning of the shirt, she persisted in wearing it I would consign her to the group known as "hateful morons."
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 6:31 PM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


This, this, a million times this. All comparisons are stupid at best and maliciously dishonest at worst.

So, comparing radical left-wing rhetoric to radical right-wing rhetoric is always going to be stupid.

This is classic team politics. No one can ever criticize any of [my political allies] because that means they're criticizing ALL of [my political allies]. People I disagree with never get the benefit of the doubt, [my political allies] always do.
posted by kathrineg at 6:31 PM on November 19, 2009


knockoutking: either they know what the t-shirt means, and they're a hateful person, or they don't know what the t-shirt means, and they're an idiot for not clocking the (correct) reading that implies death, given that it's made explicit in the very next verse.

So yeah, they're automatically either hateful and despicable, or a bandwagon-jumping idiot.
posted by Dysk at 6:34 PM on November 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


not all people who wear the tshirt are bigots, racists, or want obama dead.

Well, examing what Psalm 109:8 actually is it would appear otherwise, wouldn't it?
posted by Artw at 6:34 PM on November 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


if she wore that shirt in my presence, I would ask her if she knew what it meant. If she didn't I'd tell her and if, after acknowledging that she knows the meaning of the shirt, she persisted in wearing it I would consign her to the group known as "hateful morons."
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 6:31 PM on November 19


i bet that if cafepress listed verse 9 along with verse 8, their sales of the shirt would drop drastically.

and your right, if she continued to wear after knowing what it means in context, is she has some issues.

however if she is wearing it, has no clue of what the next verse meant and simply wanted obama out of office after one term there is no reason for her to be considered a bigot, racist or anything else...
posted by knockoutking at 6:36 PM on November 19, 2009


If you think that's what this is about, you're either not very bright or just not paying attention.

So you think that the only way I could disagree with you is by being ignorant and/or stupid.

Why don't you go ahead and tell me why CafePress' lawyers deserve to be hung for treason. I'm listening, hopefully I'm bright enough to understand your brilliant legal reasoning.
posted by kathrineg at 6:37 PM on November 19, 2009


knockoutking, do you think it's a good thing to have people wearing symbols and expressions of hate when they don't know what they mean? Is a teenager wearing a KKK t-shirt okay if he doesn't know waht it is?

So, comparing radical left-wing rhetoric to radical right-wing rhetoric is always going to be stupid.

You're being dishonest. The comparison between "X is bad because X did bad things" and "Y is equally bad because in my imagination Y might do bad things" is dishonest and stupid. If you can't see the lack of equivalence, I don't know what to say to you.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:37 PM on November 19, 2009 [8 favorites]


CafePress sees cash cow; cashes in. Film at etc.
posted by Decimask at 6:37 PM on November 19, 2009


And if she kinda-knew but claimed ignorance as a fig leaf, in a nudge-nudge wink-wink lynch the president, not really, but actually kind of yes kind of a way?
posted by Artw at 6:38 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


not all people who wear the tshirt are bigots, racists, or want obama dead.

Well, examing what Psalm 109:8 actually is it would appear otherwise, wouldn't it?


the actual verse: "Let his days be few; and let another take his office"

one way to read it is "die die die"
another way to read it is "let him have one term and someone else become president"
posted by knockoutking at 6:40 PM on November 19, 2009


Yeah.... sure.

Nudge-nudge.

Wink-wink.
posted by Artw at 6:41 PM on November 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


You're being dishonest. The comparison between "X is bad because X did bad things" and "Y is equally bad because in my imagination Y might do bad things" is dishonest and stupid. If you can't see the lack of equivalence, I don't know what to say to you.

You essentially said that no comparison could ever be anything but stupid.

That is an absolute that stems from some really corrosive ingroup-outgroup biases.
posted by kathrineg at 6:42 PM on November 19, 2009


Suuuuuure.

No weirdo angry racist mobs out there AT ALL.
posted by Artw at 6:43 PM on November 19, 2009


if all people knew about me was that i was christian, disagreed with obama and had watched fox news in the past, what would their first thought be?
But if you're wearing the t-shirt in question, that's not all an observer knows about you. They know that you thought linking that psalm with the POTUS was a good idea.

Even without the next verse, the construction "let his days be few" is more often used to mean "let his days on Earth be few" than "let his days working his current job be few". If someone told you that your days were numbered, wouldn't you consider that an implied threat?

So, yeah, it's perfectly reasonable to think someone who disagrees with the POTUS and is wearing the t-shirt in question is, in fact, reveling in their implied threat.

I don't buy it when kids playing the "I'm not touching you" game try to claim they were doing "nothing" either.
posted by Karmakaze at 6:43 PM on November 19, 2009 [9 favorites]


Let's go 'round the circle again, folks. knockoutking, you start.
posted by fixedgear at 6:45 PM on November 19, 2009


Do you have a point that can be expressed without the sarcasm?
posted by kathrineg at 6:45 PM on November 19, 2009


(that is directed at Artw)
posted by kathrineg at 6:47 PM on November 19, 2009


I'd like to think that someone who professes to be a Christian would choose to wear a t-shirt with that Biblical verse on it only if they were familiar with the verse in context. As Rhaomi noted earlier in the thread, that Psalm is all about King David asking for vengeance on his enemies. If they didn't know that before they bought the t-shirt, one would think that some time before they wore the shirt, they'd crack open their Bible again if only to get some extra insight and pleasure from their impulse purchase.

And if they wore the t-shirt without ever engaging with the original material in context, I'd wonder how much of their professed faith was sincere. Words mean something. I presume The Word should mean even more.
posted by maudlin at 6:49 PM on November 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


It's okay though, maudlin. People are, you see, too stupid to understand that it's a threat, and that excuses them their actions!
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:51 PM on November 19, 2009 [6 favorites]


I have to say, I'm not really impressed with this new batch of right-wing sockpuppets. They just don't live up to the legends of the past.
posted by yhbc at 6:51 PM on November 19, 2009 [8 favorites]


I'm listening

No, you're not. You're being dishonest by claiming I wrote something I didn't, and therefore not giving me much incentive to take your comments seriously.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:53 PM on November 19, 2009


No, you're not. You're being dishonest by claiming I wrote something I didn't, and therefore not giving me much incentive to take your comments seriously.

You shouldn't paint with such a broad brush! How can you seriously claim that all Christians claim you write things you didn't?
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:54 PM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Dude, you implied that they were treasonous multiple times. Please don't make me quote you, you can scroll up and read your own comments right there.
posted by kathrineg at 6:55 PM on November 19, 2009


Also, calling me dishonest when I've given no indication of such is really fucking rude.
posted by kathrineg at 6:57 PM on November 19, 2009


So, hey, anyone see Sarah Palin on Oprah the other day?
posted by Artw at 6:57 PM on November 19, 2009


I have to say, I'm not really impressed with this new batch of right-wing sockpuppets. They just don't live up to the legends of the past.

Who are you referring to, specifically? Why don't you go ahead and name names so we'll all know who to disregard.
posted by kathrineg at 6:57 PM on November 19, 2009


You shouldn't paint with such a broad brush! How can you seriously claim that all Christians claim you write things you didn't?

Uh, are you calling me a Christian? Really? What have I ever said or done that indicates that I'm a Christian?
posted by kathrineg at 6:59 PM on November 19, 2009


Please don't make me quote you, you can scroll up and read your own comments right there.

Please quote the part where I said they should be hung. You're scrambling to try to justify this garbage by mischaracterizing what I wrote.

But I do think they are terrorists in the same way that the 9/11 bombers were terrorists, and they and those who give them aid and comfort should be dealt with by the full force of law, before anyone else gets murdered by these right-wing religious thugs.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:00 PM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Uh, are you calling me a Christian? Really? What have I ever said or done that indicates that I'm a Christian?

I have to say that if you're not a Christian you're doing a really piss poor job of representing them and that they should be quite angry at you.
posted by Artw at 7:01 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, calling me dishonest when I've given no indication of such is really fucking rude.

You characterized "It is dishonest to say that "X is bad for doing bad things and Y is bad because I imagine he might do bad things"" as saying that comparing right and left is always dishonest and stupid, and furthermore implied that my brain is addled by in-group out-group thinking. Either you seriously are not capable of telling the difference between fantasy and reality or you are dishonestly pretending that you cannot. Either way, please stop.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:05 PM on November 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


Uh, are you calling me a Christian? Really? What have I ever said or done that indicates that I'm a Christian?

That whooshing sound you hear is a joke going over your head.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:06 PM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


That whooshing sound you also hear is this thread going down the toilet into the sewers.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:07 PM on November 19, 2009


Person gets hurt feelings while defending the right to wear a shitty asshole teeshirt? Good.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 7:11 PM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


I have to say, I'm not really impressed with this new batch of right-wing sockpuppets. They just don't live up to the legends of the past.

I've been here long enough to remember 111 and ParisParamus. There were giants in those days.
posted by John of Michigan at 7:13 PM on November 19, 2009 [6 favorites]


Dude, if you're gonna outlaw clothing which represent a symbol for the violent overthrow of a government...

Well... that's a lot of Che t-shirts.
posted by qvantamon at 7:14 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


You're just saying that "they" are terrorists in the same way that the 9/11 bombers were terrorists (i.e. murderers). Are you talking about Ann Coulter, or who? It's really not entirely clear. The people who wear this shirt? Random other people?

Anyway, "they" (people who want the violent overthrow of the government, again, you're murky here) and those who give them aid and comfort should be dealt with by the full force of the law. Bizarrely, this includes CafePress' lawyers, as though they were going to murderous conspiracy meetings and bringing cookies and punch.

You're using language from the constitution's description of treason. It states that "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort."). The punishment for treason is often death.

But, you know, my bad, perhaps you were just implying that they should be fined no less than $10,000 and put in jail for no less than 5 years.

That is how I am reading what you are saying. Tell me how I'm wrong, if I'm wrong.
posted by kathrineg at 7:15 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


gman: "Bring your family closer. To heaven."

Hmm, Mass We Pray? Kinda close to the alternate pronunciation of "Asswipe" for me.
posted by notsnot at 7:16 PM on November 19, 2009


Jury's still out on The Onion's "Che wearing a Che T-shirt" t-shirt.
posted by qvantamon at 7:16 PM on November 19, 2009


I have to say that if you're not a Christian you're doing a really piss poor job of representing them and that they should be quite angry at you.

I'm not a Christian, never claimed to be a Christian, nor do I represent Christians.

I doubt they have any reason to be angry at me just because random people on MetaFilter think that I'm one of them.
posted by kathrineg at 7:17 PM on November 19, 2009


Mmm...delicious hurt feelings. Nutritious too!
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 7:18 PM on November 19, 2009


Person gets hurt feelings while defending the right to wear a shitty asshole teeshirt? Good.

Remind me to donate some cash to the ACLU. I'll put you down as the honoree.
posted by kathrineg at 7:21 PM on November 19, 2009


knockoutking: in fact, i bet that the majority of those who buy the shirt have NO CLUE what the next verse is in Psalms 109

I'm with maudlin here in thinking that Christians who buy the shirt but don't look the verse up would be a very odd sub-set: Bible lovers who believe that the Bible is the Word of God AND who wear a shirt with a Bible verse on it, yet who don't look the verse up or look the verse up but pay no attention to the verse immediately following. Who does that? Who treats the Word of God like a fortune cookie or Magic 8 Ball? "Yeah, I'll just snip this sentence out and use it in another context entirely." That is a strange way to treat a Holy Book and not something the Christians I know would do.

Which leads me to my next thought. Has the Right Wing Christian Coalition become warped over the last 20 years or have they just become more outspoken? It seems like this uneasy political alliance with the Republican Party has emboldened a group of American Christians to flex their muscles and become more belligerent. I don't remember the fundamentalists and the Evangelists being so...so...so unchristian in the past. Have they changed or are they just more visible now?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:22 PM on November 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


Pope Guilty: "You characterized "It is dishonest to say that "X is bad for doing bad things and Y is bad because I imagine he might do bad things"" as saying that comparing right and left is always dishonest and stupid, and furthermore implied that my brain is addled by in-group out-group thinking. Either you seriously are not capable of telling the difference between fantasy and reality or you are dishonestly pretending that you cannot. Either way, please stop."

Naw, it's cool, I think you can handle it.
posted by kathrineg at 7:24 PM on November 19, 2009


" "Person gets hurt feelings while defending the right to wear a shitty asshole teeshirt? Good.

Remind me to donate some cash to the ACLU. I'll put you down as the honoree. "

Guess what? I draw the line at good, honest hardworking folk wearing a teeshirt praying for the death of Barack Obama. Guess I'll have to hand in my progressive lefty credentials, eh?

By all means stick to your principles- especially when they stop making sense- because that's pure entertainment.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 7:28 PM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Blazecock Pileon pointed to it. This kind of thing for the crazy right is pulling the pin for another Tiller type assassination. After there will be a big push to fund the defense fund. Let's hope it doesn't get to that.

Unfortunately, I think this is the way the far right operates. They pray on the even crazier fringe to do the really bad shit for them. Just like the the suicide bomber are never the guys at the top.
posted by Belle O'Cosity at 7:28 PM on November 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


Has the Right Wing Christian Coalition become warped over the last 20 years or have they just become more outspoken? It seems like this uneasy political alliance with the Republican Party has emboldened a group of American Christians to flex their muscles and become more belligerent. I don't remember the fundamentalists and the Evangelists being so...so...so unchristian in the past. Have they changed or are they just more visible now?

Well, it really started in the late 70's, when the general stance of the Evangelicals shifted from "Let's stay out of politics and just do the Lord's work" to "Taking over the government is what God wants us to do so that we can enact his will by passing laws." They were at their height during the Reagan administration, and enjoyed a brief resurgence during Bush II, but right now they're the big strong guy who's been beaten by someone he views as weak and cowardly: humiliated, angry, and violent. They've taken a few test swings, but right now are mostly in the stage where they talk a bunch of shit about how they're going to kick everyone's ass; depending on the response, they may or may not move on the ass-kicking. God, that metaphor went on too long.

Naw, it's cool, I think you can handle it.

So you are, in fact, going to continue to be dishonest in this discussion. What right have you to participate in it when you've admitted that you're going to lie?
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:31 PM on November 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


The punishment for treason is often death.

Given the targeted murders committed to date, I think we're well beyond a simple-headed semantic First Amendment defense. I think a lot of these people who incite and profit from this violent, right-wing, religious extremism have forfeit their rights to live in freedom, for having caused such untold suffering and committing terror at the expense of the safety and well-being of the public.

They should at the very least be removed from the general public, if not thrown out of the country and their passports shredded, but if a court ruled that these individuals have incited and profited from murder and therefore deserved capital sentences as just punishment, I honestly wouldn't shed many tears.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:33 PM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Guess what? I draw the line at good, honest hardworking folk wearing a teeshirt praying for the death of Barack Obama. Guess I'll have to hand in my progressive lefty credentials, eh?

There's an interesting dynamic here, and it's the dynamic of civility. Republicans tend to respond to Democratic and leftist incivility with anger and disdain, while Democrats tend to respond to Democratic and leftist incivility with, well, anger and disdain, while (as seen in this thread) finding every excuse to ignore or approve of right-wing incivility. (And make no mistake: a definition of civility which ranks "polite" threats of murder as less incivil than angry words is a seriously defective concept of reality.) I think the danger of this dynamic is something that's starting to occur to liberals; a political environment in which the right's bringing guns to debates and publicly wishing for the deaths of liberals and leftists and forcibly shutting down public meetings they don't like is tolerated, while liberals raising objections are accused of hating free speech and liberty itself, well... that's not a situation that's going to end well.

The right needs to learn that force- which these t-shirts are an form of- cannot and will not be tolerated as a legitimate political tactic. I think liberals- Democrats- are starting to wake up to the fact that the right is not going to suddenly start playing by the rules if they're placated. Appeasement simply doesn't work.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:42 PM on November 19, 2009 [8 favorites]


It seems obvious this was a very strategically chosen verse. It has enough nuance--especially given the next line--that it quite clearly promotes assassination. But the line taken individually can simply be interpreted as hoping/praying that Obama lasts only one term. The makers and promoters of this can hide behind the latter excuse and do a wink-wink nudge-nudge with the former.

So it's a kind of Rorschach. Most religious folk--even most fundies--I'd wager are not pro-assassination, so would see it via the innocent interpretation. But let's not kid ourselves that the makers and promoters of this likely hope and pray that some nut will take this to the next level and try to take Obama out. After which--God forbid--they'd wash their hands of it, saying "Hey, it was just an innocent hope that he last one term, we certainly never thought it would come to this!"
posted by zardoz at 7:49 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why are religious texts specifically exempt from 'hate speech' laws? This is why.
posted by eccnineten at 7:51 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


and your right, if she continued to wear after knowing what it means in context, is she has some issues.

Ok, great, we found some common ground. Here's my next step:

It is very stupid to employ a symbol the meaning of which you are unaware of. Before someone puts on the shirt, they should found out what it says AND what it means in context. It's not a heavy burden to place, especially since everyone who would want to wear this shirt already owns the book that they'd need to consult to figure out what it means in context. Failure to do this is tremendously stupid.

So again, we have either "moron of enormous magnitude" or "hateful moron of enormous magnitude." In order to avoid the "moron" appellation, one must avoid these shirts.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 7:52 PM on November 19, 2009


There needs to be more stringency in what passes for free press. Maybe the government isn't allowed to limit speech, but I'm pretty sure the system of law is allowed to do so.

Libel needs to be much better prosecuted, to start with.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:53 PM on November 19, 2009


Wearing 109:8 without understanding it in the context of 109:9

Is like wearing a swastika without understanding it in the context of WWII.

In both cases, the wearer of these things is a complete jagoff. If once informed s/he continues wearing it, s/he should be shunned from society.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:56 PM on November 19, 2009 [10 favorites]


People seem to be glossing over the difference between wishing/praying that someone was dead, and actually threatening them. There's a big difference. It's not illegal to want someone dead, though it's not normally considered exactly nice; it generally only becomes illegal when you threaten to cause death or injury. Prayer isn't causative.

It's certainly fine to decide that anyone wearing one of these shirts is a douchebag and refuse to interact with them, boo them, whatever else (non-violent) that you want to do, but the statement seems to fall pretty squarely into protected political speech.

Suggesting that if someone had said the same thing about Bush that they would have been black-vanned is a bit weak; first of all, there were people wearing shirts and slogans like that (e.g. the pretzel thing, which is about the same, just more clever), and second even if it was true, it would just mean that the Bush administration was wrong, not that we should continue that sort of repression.

The acid test of whether you believe in free speech or not is what you do when that speech is nasty and directed at something you like. One of the things I'm most proud of in America is that our speech right is so absolute, it even covers Nazis. We can deal with some cherry-picked Bible quotations.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:01 PM on November 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


"People seem to be glossing over the difference between wishing/praying that someone was dead, and actually threatening them."

How about praying for the death of Barack Obama, the current President of The United States of America, in public? How is that not causative?
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 8:06 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Stay classy, Dumbfuckistan.
posted by bardic at 8:07 PM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think the question of whether every single person who wears that t-shirt wants the president dead is beside the point, and obviously a lot of the people, perhaps a vast majority, don't intend to send, or even know that they are sending, that message.

The point is that some people do. Somebody made a joke about talking about rape, but I think there is a parallel in discussing rape culture. Because things like this turn a culture into one in which a percentage of people think violence is funny, or useful, or allowable. And it doesn't have to be every Christian. Or even most Christians. It just has to be one with a lucky bullet, and we have another dead president on our hands. And everybody wearing these shirts and bumper stickers, and everybody participating in a rhetoric of violence, even when they don't know it, have a hand in being responsible for creating that climate of violence, and they should fucking stop it because it's despicable.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:11 PM on November 19, 2009 [9 favorites]


Why are religious texts specifically exempt from 'hate speech' laws? This is why.
posted by eccnineten at 9:51 PM on November 19 [1 favorite has favorites +] [!]


eccnineten believes in what he writes so much he is not afraid to favorite what he writes.
posted by nola at 8:19 PM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


The very fact that we discuss the death of Barack Obama so casually, should give us all pause. This is not casual. It's serious. And I'm at a loss as to what I can do about it. A t-shirt is the least of our worries.
posted by wv kay in ga at 8:21 PM on November 19, 2009


Seriously.
posted by nola at 8:22 PM on November 19, 2009


I sometimes favorite my own comments. Sometimes I need something good to read late at night.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:24 PM on November 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


It is ridiculously naive to think that these shirts are not intended by a significant number of wearers/purchasers/supporters to insinuate a death wish. McCain/Palin et al. were making such insinuations during the campaign, out in the open, in ways far more overt than this. For anyone to pretend that the Right is above such insinuations now is just outrageous.
posted by The World Famous at 8:27 PM on November 19, 2009


MeTa. (only the self-favoriting thing, though)
posted by yhbc at 8:29 PM on November 19, 2009


knockoutking> if the person is hindu, and has one [a swastika] up in their prayer room, thats a completely different situation.

I don't know what you think you know about Hindus and Hinduism, but: 1) we're not talking about having a swastika (or its equivalent) up in a prayer room, we're talking about people going around with an incitement to or hope for violence on their clothing and 2) swastikas aren't such a big thing with Hindus that you see huge ones in their prayer rooms. They are not the equivalent of crosses for Christians, they are symbols that you'll see as an element in religious iconography, if you see it at all. In the pictures and idols you see in most puja rooms in Hindu households, there usually isn't a single swastika, let alone multiple ones.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 8:31 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.
posted by sneebler at 8:38 PM on November 19, 2009


Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

And never forget that stupidity and malice are not mutually exclusive.
posted by The World Famous at 8:39 PM on November 19, 2009 [6 favorites]


The acid test of whether you believe in free speech or not is what you do when that speech is nasty and directed at something you like.

Maybe we should ask Tiller and his fellow victims if there's an acid test to pass, here. I wonder what the dead would say, if they could speak.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:46 PM on November 19, 2009


I wonder what the dead would say, if they could speak.

I'm pretty sure the tongue rots quickly.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:48 PM on November 19, 2009


Wow. This thread got ugly fast. And then stayed there.

What this reminded me of more than anything else were my sophomore year in high school, in Oklahoma. The highest grossing film of that year was Independence Day, which was marketed most notably with the iconic image of the alien ship obliterating the White House. Despite the fact that Bill Pullman's President in that film is a hero, the scene was received with hoots and applause nationwide, as was clearly expected: the movie was marketed around this single shot, preying on wish-fulfillment fantasies during the Clinton years of just blowing him and his liberal, namby-pamby, draft-dodging, pot-smoking-but-not-inhaling, all letting his wife have ideas about public policy, friend-of-the-underdog ways the fuck up. No matter the plot-significance, this was all about telling the audience, "we know what you want, and we're going to give it to you with state-of-the-art special effects. Come see us kill Clinton. And then cheer patriotically later. And see no dissonance with that."

The second was in my Youth Group there, in my time as a Christian, during group prayer one night when the youngest member among us started praying aloud for Clinton's removal from office. As the lone democrat in the group, this made me suddenly very, very uneasy, but I was pleasantly surprised by the very conservative woman leading the group that night gently saying, "Tyler, that's really not in the Christian spirit."

The closest we had to Independence Day in the Bush era was, of course, V for Vendetta, which didn't earn nearly as much money but is a movie I still love. Was V an exhortation for the violent overthrow of the Bush regime? Surely it was meant to be seen that way, at least on some level. It was definitely understood that way by anyone with a brain watching it. It was also a much more intellectually engaging film than Independence Day, and mused about the morality of violent tactics, but then absolutely came out on the side of violence being useful in certain situations before killing the characters standing in for Bush, Cheney, Limbaugh, Rumsfeld, Ashcroft and then blowing up the Houses of Parliament because it was set in the U.K. and blowing up the White House wouldn't really make any sense.

I am, finally, reminded of a quote from Morrissey back in the '80s, when a reporter asked him, "You know, you criticize Margaret Thatcher quite a bit. What would you do if one of your fans murdered Ms. Thatcher, though?" To which he responded, "Obviously I would marry that person." Though this last story may be apocryphal - a google search only brings up a MeFi comment from 2006 by... me.

But I can picture people from my old church group wearing this shirt, even knowing the full context, and not meaning anything more by it except for the idea that they want to defeat Obama in 2012, saying, "Oh this? Well, the verse is 'May his days be numbered and may another take his office.' It gets a little worse after that, and the whole thing is actually King David talking about what his enemies were saying about him. It's just a joke, really. You know, like I want him out of office, but we should pray for him anyway."

I wouldn't like it, but I can see the reasoning there. It is, of course, bad reasoning, and doesn't take into account the possibility to incite violence in others who take the verse and context seriously, but it doesn't designate evil, or even moronic, intent. I'm no longer a Christian, or indeed religious in any respect, but I can tell you that a great many Christians are very, very dedicated to, you know Christianity. As such, the jokes among their groups will revolve around common references, such as to "The Good Book." These Christians would read this shirt, get the reference, know what it means in full context, and still choose to wear it despite that context because to them the joke is in the reinterpretation in this specific context of wanting Obama to lose in 2012.

It's a tasteless joke, and one without consideration for possible ramifications, but I can see it.

I guess what I'm saying is that they have a right to wear the shirt or button or what have you, and you have the right to pre-judge them as ignorant hateful bigots for doing so. I almost want to, but instead I'd (hopefully) take the chance to ask them about it, because dialogue is good, discussion is good, and as much as it seems like it sometimes, you can't determine that someone has left the playing field of worthwhile dialogue just on the basis of what t-shirt they're wearing.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:10 PM on November 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


May I refer everyone to the book of Metafilter chapter 59945, verse 1640092?
posted by JHarris at 9:26 PM on November 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


I say we escalate. Let's make a t-shirt saying "People wearing Psalm 109:8 should be violently murdered". Then a picture of a hamburger.
posted by qvantamon at 9:27 PM on November 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


hm, that should be "people wearing Psalm 109:8 t-shirts"
posted by qvantamon at 9:29 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I love how everyone in this thread is piling on knockoutking. But it's time to officially toll the end of the Two Minutes Hate.

The real argument is how the hell you people who support the President, and his majority Democratic Congress so willingly hand over your power to a bunch of dopes wearing a T-shirt.

"So when I say this is a dog wistle, this is code, I'm being very serious. This is code for "He must die"

How completely tripping on acid do you have to be to say this? Or are you so uncomfortable with the very idea of conflict that any disagreement has to be elevated to the level of a violent threat just to avoid integrating the idea into your consciousness that maybe other people don't like the people you like, that their opinion is as valid as yours, and that your opinion is as stupid as theirs.

Jesus Christ. You have the President you wanted, right? Your party controls Congress. The media is openly declaring the end of capitalism and the death of Wall Street. The Republican party is in shambles. Your people control everything. But despite all that, you can't get over your persecution complex. Someone where's a T-shirt that paraphrased says "I can't wait for this idiot to be out of office" and you bray like barnyard animals trapped in the rain.

You know what's going on here? You love playing the victim. When you aren't a victim, you will construct an imaginary narrative that makes you the victim. This is why democrats suck at running the country despite how educated or qualified any individual democrats are. You are so used to railing against the Man/the Establishment/the System that you have no fucking idea what to do with yourselves when you step into that role.

And some of the other shit stated in this thread is simply heinous. "On the other hand, the last thing I want is for people like this to be driven underground where we can't keep an eye on them." Keep an eye on them? Who are you to be keeping an eye on anyone?

If it's okay for you to be keeping an eye on them, then it was okay for Bush to illegally wiretap your phone and for NSA to monitor your email. I see no reason to trust you anymore or less than I should trust the former administration or the yahoos in this post.

Start asking yourself why it is that these people and their nonsensical messages still have the power to frighten or enrage you.

And everybody wearing these shirts and bumper stickers, and everybody participating in a rhetoric of violence, even when they don't know it, have a hand in being responsible for creating that climate of violence, and they should fucking stop it because it's despicable.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:11 PM on November 19


Set aside for the moment the actual question of whether a T-shirt with a 2000-yr old biblical reference on it constitutes the creation of a "climate of violence". Are the makers of violent movies and video games responsible for real-life violence that is inspired by their products? Don't they actually create a more obvious and extreme climate of violence?

The mistake you are making is in thinking that these things "create" any sort of climate or culture. They are in fact the products of it. The climate of violence is already there. I know this is true because the t-shirts are being bought voluntarily. The video games are selling. The movies are being watched. Theses things are being consumed in mass quantities immediately upon their arrival in the market. The supplier does not create the demand - the demand already exists. People want to buy crap that expresses their pre-existing dislike of the President. Welcome to America.

If someone chooses to act out, it is their choice. The presence of slogans on a shirt does not compel him to act. If the putative assassin thinks that people who agree with his opinion of the President will therefore also support his violence, that is his own stupidity and lunacy, not anyone else's. You have to either acknowledge that people have free will and that society will be structured with the understanding that rational adults will exercise their will intelligently, or you think that society should be structured around preventing the irrational from finding any justification to exercise their will irrationally. I think the latter is an impossibility. But consider that if you think it should be the latter, there is someone out there who considers you to be irrational, and would like to limit your ability to exercise your will.
posted by Pastabagel at 9:31 PM on November 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


I can assure you that around the rest of the world the shot of the White House being disintegrated by the flying saucer was a big crowd pleaser for reasons that had absolutely nothing to do with Clinton.
posted by Artw at 9:33 PM on November 19, 2009 [7 favorites]


The mistake you are making is in thinking that these things "create" any sort of climate or culture. They are in fact the products of it. The climate of violence is already there.

I didn't say that the t-shirts create a climate of violence. I said the people who wear the t-shirts create the climate of violence, and should be ashamed of doing so. The t-shirts just tell us who those people are.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:44 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


It may be a threat, it may not be a threat, but I'm pretty sure that if this shirt had been around and getting publicity during the Bush administration, the cries of "Treason!" would have been shouted loudly from the rooftops of Fox News et al. and there would have been a lot of hysterical nattering about wartime and treason and traitors and what happens to treasonous traitors in wartime etc.

You're kidding, right? I don't want to spend a lot of time researching this, but here is a thread where many of our metfites call outright for the death of then-Vice President Cheney. It begins with a comment complaining that Cheney's safety from an explosion is proof that prayer doesn't work.

So, yeah, the other party is a bunch of treasonous idiots. It's not as funny anymore, right?
posted by Slap Factory at 9:46 PM on November 19, 2009


Well the minute Obama starts programs for torturing people to death, I'll buy one of these shirts.
posted by Zalzidrax at 9:52 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think if you see someone wearing one of these shirts, and you can't if they are praying to God to kill the president, you should ask them.
posted by vibrotronica at 10:14 PM on November 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


can't tell if they are praying...
posted by vibrotronica at 10:15 PM on November 19, 2009


"On the other hand, the last thing I want is for people like this to be driven underground where we can't keep an eye on them." Keep an eye on them? Who are you to be keeping an eye on anyone?

If it's okay for you to be keeping an eye on them, then it was okay for Bush to illegally wiretap your phone and for NSA to monitor your email. I see no reason to trust you anymore or less than I should trust the former administration or the yahoos in this post.


Since when does "keeping an eye on someone" mean having the NSA monitor their e-mail? Well, since Bush was president I guess, but that's not what I meant. I meant that if someone's going to go on some kind of violent tear, I'd like them to have been able to publicly indicate that they might do so before it happens. I was not aware that this was a controversial statement. We all keep an eye on each other all the time, and we can say something when someone crosses the line. I think this shirt crosses the line and I'll use my freedom of speech to say so.

Again, for the fucking hundredth time, I don't think these shirts should be illegal. Cafe Press can sell them or not as they see fit. But I think it's a shitty sentiment and I think you're an asshole if you decide to wear one of these things. None of this is in conflict with a liberal reading of the First Amendment.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 10:23 PM on November 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


So, I think there is a majority consensus that wearing these shirts makes you a giant douche. Either you're ignorant of something you bought and wear or you're actually hoping for the death of a political leader. One of them is being an ignorant jerk, the other being a malicious jerk.

However, I think of only a few people saying that people should be prosecuted. Some of the guys here are reacting to those few saying that everyone wants them prosecuted—which most are not—and that's what they're battling against. To be fair, these voices exist, but the vast majority on this site do not want to go thoughtcrime or even speechcrime on these people. Those that do . . . you're fighting an uphill battle in a tundra of the morally dubious.

That being said, I think we should be more worried about is the climate of it all. Although these people are each complicit in an environment of potential violence, all of this adds up to a physically dangerous world for political leaders that is inherently unstable. Me, living my middle class existence does not wish for the instability of Presidential assassinations. What do we do to make even prayers for a leader's death unpalatable?

(Notice I did not say illegal. God hope that it will never be illegal to express that you're praying for someone's death. Unbelievably bad taste, yes. Illegal, no.)
posted by Lord Chancellor at 10:31 PM on November 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


I don't want to spend a lot of time researching this, but here is a thread where many of our metfites call outright for the death of then-Vice President Cheney. It begins with a comment complaining that Cheney's safety from an explosion is proof that prayer doesn't work.

I've never seen any anti-Cheney T-shirts in person, nor have I seen rallies against that ignorant turd (perhaps they were confined to "Free Speech Zones"). This heartless, soulless fat cat has the blood of 4,000+ servicemen and women on his hands. Anger directed his way is entirely appropriate. His snide, condescending, war-mongering public image is entirely his own fault. Ever seen this worthless prick on TV? He wouldn't give a crippled crab a crutch! He'd likely swerve to run your dog over, and laugh all the way home. It's entirely reasonable that people tire of useless money-grubbers like Big Dick Cheney (who could likely weather any IED or explosion to come his way, for his heart has been stopped since the 1980s).

Now, wishing for death on anyone is a foolish move - it's corrosive to the soul. I want to see Big Dick tried for war crimes, not subjected to street justice.
posted by porn in the woods at 10:33 PM on November 19, 2009 [6 favorites]


Was it really necessary for the "not very bright" thing to be lobbed at kathrineg twice in this thread?
posted by Ouisch at 10:42 PM on November 19, 2009


Yeah, it kind of is a condescending and jerk thing to say about another poster. Someone who doesn't agree with you is obviously not very bright, right?
posted by Lord Chancellor at 10:51 PM on November 19, 2009


Yes.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:52 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Share the love then, please. There were other dissenting commenters in this thread.
posted by Ouisch at 10:54 PM on November 19, 2009


Please quote the part where I said they should be hung. You're scrambling to try to justify this garbage by mischaracterizing what I wrote.

But I do think they are terrorists in the same way that the 9/11 bombers were terrorists, and they and those who give them aid and comfort should be dealt with by the full force of law, before anyone else gets murdered by these right-wing religious thugs.


So, is this the dogwhistle stuff people were talking about.
posted by Snyder at 10:57 PM on November 19, 2009


I did not get the impression that Hang_em_all is just calling for him to lose in 2012.
posted by mullingitover at 11:00 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


"First amendment, baby. Love it or leave it.

EXACTLY."


That is so sad.


No, what's sad is that the authoritarian brigade can't handle a bunch of shitty t-shirts worn by shitty people without hand-wringing about how "The terrorists are coming for us! We need to throw people who wear t-shirts in jail immediatly and/or deport them, or, you know, execute them." I know you think you all sound so hard-ass and tough-minded talking about throwing people in jail, but it really makes you look like a bunch of cowards.

Maybe we should ask Tiller and his fellow victims if there's an acid test to pass, here. I wonder what the dead would say, if they could speak.

Maybe you could ask the victims of NINEELEVEN about allowing Mooslemans into America. *bald eagle cries a single tear in front of American flag*
posted by Snyder at 11:08 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


This heartless, soulless fat cat has the blood of 4,000+ servicemen and women on his hands.

And oh, a hundred thousand or so Iraqis.

But Obama and Bush/Cheney are equally culpable and calling comparisons between the hate directed at them dishonest is nothing but tribalism.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:11 PM on November 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


I thought the Frank Schaefer link, who I had not previously heard of, was absolutely excellent. Thank you.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:18 PM on November 19, 2009


So, yeah, the other party is a bunch of treasonous idiots.

Nope, just idiots.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 11:19 PM on November 19, 2009


So the only way this verse makes sense is if we assume Christians are too stupid to read the very next line?

Well, okay then. Carry on.
posted by elwoodwiles at 11:21 PM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


We need to throw people who wear t-shirts in jail immediatly and/or deport them, or, you know, execute them.

How about the people selling the shirts, and the Becks, Coulters and O'Reillys who egg them on? Maybe they deserve some scrutiny. Guess that important detail didn't make it into your quote, though.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:22 PM on November 19, 2009


Maybe you could ask the victims of NINEELEVEN about allowing Mooslemans into America. *bald eagle cries a single tear in front of American flag*

There is something so bitterly ironic about the imbalance of power in this statement, in light of who is behind making and wearing these shirts.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:25 PM on November 19, 2009


I second Lutoslawski's assesment of the Schaefer link, I found it incredibly interesting. I heard him interviewed on NPR last weekend and was riveted. The section in this link where he wonders about the presence (or rather lack of presence) of evangelical leaders speaking out against this kind of action was especially thought-provoking.
posted by koselig at 11:29 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Guess that important detail didn't make it into your quote, though.

Okey doke, fine, I'll quote the relevant bit:

Right-wingers who make, buy, and wear this shit are terrorists and should be treated as such.

How about the people selling the shirts, and the Becks, Coulters and O'Reillys who egg them on? Maybe they deserve some scrutiny.

A bit of a back-pedal, wouldn't you say? There is nothing wrong with scrutiny, or the kind of ball that the White House is playing re: Fox News, but screaming "TREASON" about a bunch of latter-day Father Coughlins is over-reaction and hysteria. It is the kind of thing Beck does, just he does it with more smugness and lies.
posted by Snyder at 11:43 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


A bit of a back-pedal, wouldn't you say?

No, not at all. I haven't denied saying anything I've said in this thread. I just question some people's reading ability, and I grow tired of an attitude that says "free speech" means you can do anything you like, including inciting terrorists to commit heinous acts of murder, but — given how that "freedom" actually works out in the real world — essentially supporting that idea only when right-wingers are behind those acts. It's breathtaking how much opposition there is to calling right-wing terrorists what they are, while still talking about we need to defend "free speech" and being witty about the consequences of 9/11.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:55 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


It is the kind of thing Beck does, just he does it with more smugness and lies.

And this is no worse a false equivalence than the one that equates this shirt with calling for Bush to be impeached. Still, we have "free speech" so people can get away with making these kinds of false equivalences.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:58 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's breathtaking how much opposition there is to calling right-wing terrorists what they are, while still talking about we need to defend "free speech" and being witty about the consequences of 9/11.

You can call anyone a terrorist that you like. You can even call for them to be jailed. Just don't seriously expect many members of the blue to actually think the call for people to be jailed for speech should come to pass.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 12:31 AM on November 20, 2009


In a nutshell:

People spoke out angrily against Bush his whole time in office. Some of that 'angry' talk was almost as insane as this t-shirt, with the discrepancy being: Bush was doing some massively fucked-up shit (wire-tapping us, the citizens he served, starting a war on the basis of absolutely nothing more than he had the political capital, allowing people in his administration reveal the identity of our own intelligence assets.)

People are freaking out over Obama because of "who he is." I doubt they even care know what he has or has not done.

I am alienated from this second group because they are not reacting to what is there, but to what they think/believe/are told is there. I am angry at the people who are leading people to these conclusions, conclusions which are regularly, laboriously proven false (he's actually Kenyan, he's a 'socialist' (whateverthefuckthatmeans), he's going to tax us all into oblivion). This t-shirt business is more of the same kind of dishonest crap. Cafe Press should not sell it (on principle, that is, on My principles. Of course, they can go and do whatever they want, but in my little world what they are doing is fucked up.)
posted by From Bklyn at 12:43 AM on November 20, 2009 [6 favorites]


Just don't seriously expect many members of the blue to actually think the call for people to be jailed for speech should come to pass.

That's fine. So long as people understand that calling for the president's death is not free speech, and that, historically speaking, calling for the violent overthrow of the government is not an exercise in protected speech — which is what this shirt does, despite protestations to the contrary — we're good. I was just remarking on the double-standard for right-wingers in this country.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:32 AM on November 20, 2009


I'm going to place myself firmly in the "we're just as bad as them" camp and laugh at how much this sounds like democrats c. 2003 now.
posted by tehloki at 3:21 AM on November 20, 2009


Okay, no one's really going to care about this, but let me shed a little light on the whole Frank Schaeffer bit.

Frank Schaeffer is the son of the late Francis Schaeffer, who is something of a legend in evangelical circles. Granted, he's probably spinning in his grave right about now, but he was one of the key figures in calling for an intellectually robust, politically conscious evangelicalism. He was one of the forefathers of the pro-life movement and actually authored Pollution and the Death of Man, an something of an evangelical environmental manifesto. He operated L'Abri in Switzerland starting in 1955, which turned into something of a Mecca for young people in the 1960s and 1970s who were both convicted and compelled by the political and cultural changes of those decades yet unwilling to surrender their Christian beliefs. Needless to say, huge chunks of his thought have been routinely ignored by the Religious Right--which fits with how they treat Scripture, so at least they're being consistent. When idiots like Tim LaHaye cite Schaeffer as an influence it's really a travesty, as they 1) don't know the first thing about his thought, and 2) wouldn't like it much if they did.

Here's where we come back to Frank. Francis, it turns out, was something of a raging asshole in his personal life. He certainly didn't get along with his son very well. Frank, it seems, hated his father with the fire of a thousand suns, and Frank's earlier works--and maybe his later works too, I haven't read them--are characterized by a massive amount of bile and anger. This has made him extraordinarily willing to criticize anything associated with his father's thought.

This, in turn, has made him something of a darling to the political Left, though it's also clear from his own politics that Frank himself has little use for them. So appearances on Maddow's show are entirely in character for him.

All this by way of saying that Frank is not exactly a reliable source for analysis on evangelicalism. If there was ever a person blinded by his own experiences, he's a good candidate. So when he tells us that this is clear evidence of the coalescence of a dangerous lunatic fringe on the Right... I'll look for other sources on that, thanks very much. This fits in a little too neatly with his own personal narrative for me to put too much stock in his conclusions.

I'm going to claim immediately second-hand knowledge here, for those who are interested. I don't know either Francis (he died when I was 3) or Frank, but I know people who know them, and this is what they've told me, long before this incident.

Blazecock Pileon and those who agree with him, come on. I know the people who think this sort of thing is funny. I work with some of them, to my daily frustration. None of them appreciate the theological implications of the verse they're citing. They don't really appreciate the theological implications of just about anything, when it comes right down to it. If there's a double standard going on here, you're as guilty as they, as I highly doubt you treated calls for President Bush's assassination with anything like the same animosity you're treating this particular bit of political garbage.
posted by valkyryn at 4:08 AM on November 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


People like this make me wish there was a God, an old-time, old-Testament, fire-and-brimstone Christian God.

Because these fuckers would so fucking burn it's not funny.

You have succeeded in converting me, Christians. Please, I beg of you O Lord. Please be real. Please be wrathful.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:29 AM on November 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm selling t-shirts that say "Pray with Obama — Psalm 109." Memail me for details.

(I hope to retire next June, why do you ask?)
posted by wobh at 5:27 AM on November 20, 2009


I didn't think my comment about Barnett Slepian was that subtle. This particular "prayer" might not kill directly, but it reinforces a culture that encourages evangelical violence in people who see themselves as holy warriors. It may be that the vast majority of people who wear this shirt are not in-and-of-themselves violent, but they are praying, to their god, that someone more righteous than them will do the act. And they do, consistently and constantly, express their pleasure when a holy warrior acts upon their prayers, bombing abortion clinics, killing doctors, nurses, et cetera.

This is no more a "harmless little joke" than Randall Terry or those "god hates fags" jackasses. Remember those Operation Rescue "wanted" posters? Free speech. Paid off in spades for David Gunn or Randall Terry, depending on your point of view.

I'm all for protected freedom of speech. But, as has been pointed out above, threats of violence against the POTUS are, rightly so, a crime.

Beck, et al, don't egg these people on? Tell it to Francisco Martin Duran.
posted by jdfan at 5:53 AM on November 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


So, I said It may be a threat, it may not be a threat, but I'm pretty sure that if this shirt had been around and getting publicity during the Bush administration, the cries of "Treason!" would have been shouted loudly from the rooftops of Fox News et al. and there would have been a lot of hysterical nattering about wartime and treason and traitors and what happens to treasonous traitors in wartime etc.

and then Slap Factory was all

You're kidding, right? I don't want to spend a lot of time researching this, but here is a thread where many of our metfites call outright for the death of then-Vice President Cheney. It begins with a comment complaining that Cheney's safety from an explosion is proof that prayer doesn't work.

So, yeah, the other party is a bunch of treasonous idiots. It's not as funny anymore, right?


and the thread has moved on - I think? - but I wanted to address this because, Slap Factory, what?

I did not call anybody treasonous or a terrorist. I think that there is and has been a double standard operated by some parts of the national media, and it's not like that's news. If a Democratic governor had talked in 2003 about seceding and how awful the country was and how he didn't consider himself an American, I think Fox News would have been all over it with the "treason in time of war" shit. But when the gov of Texas says it during Obama's administration, not so much.

My point was not "Oh lefties never said anything bad about Bush" or whatever you seem to be saying my point was. My point was that a similar t-shirt made and worn by anti-Bush folks (and getting the kind of publicity this one is apparently getting) would have gotten a bunch of "is this treason?!" talk from the usual right-wing pundits.
posted by rtha at 6:00 AM on November 20, 2009


People are freaking out over Obama because of "who he is." I doubt they even care know what he has or has not done.


There was so much animosity against Obama before he ever took the oath of office; there was never any pretense of "He is the president now, let's give him a chance." There was a time when Bush had our attention and goodwill (if not our respect) even when his second term began-- when he had already fucked-up mightily. I remember blogging after the 2004 election about how it was time to stop being a blue country and a red country, but instead recognize that we are all living in one country with one President, our President.

These days, I really cannot imagine a single thing that Obama could do that would earn the gratitude and respect of hard Right Wingers. He could make their lives better with tax cuts and Universal health care. He could achieve a peaceful withdrawal of the troops from the middle East. He could pull the country out of the recession and put the Federal budget back in the black, but each and every one of these achievements would be attributed to someone/something else.

How much worse can it get? How much greater will the divide become in the next 20 years? There are plenty of examples of countries which have vastly divided groups with deeply rooted resentments; Belgium, for example, but also Rwanda.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:26 AM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


a similar t-shirt made and worn by anti-Bush folks (and getting the kind of publicity this one is apparently getting) would have gotten a bunch of "is this treason?!" talk from the usual right-wing pundits.

Not to mention that a similar T-shirt-- one with a Biblical verse as the punchline-- would have Christians in an uproar over the perverse use of their sacred book.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:30 AM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Nobody is advocating for the government to send marshals to CafePress to seize the P108 shirts. Nobody is saying that fuckheads don't have the right to wear such shirts - in fact, I like it when fuckheads display the stars and bars, because I know, at a glance, whom to avoid.
What seems clear to me, however, is that the phrases "let his days be few..." and "let his wife be a widow..." are a clear use of the mandative subjunctive, just as "God said 'Let there be light, and there was light, and it was good.'" God didn't wistfully hope that light would come, he willed it into existence. In like terms, this use of P108 is an incitement to assassination, and it would be appropriate for CafePress's lawyers to advise them as such. After all, the fact that such products are commercially available is an implicit endorsement of the sentiment expressed on them, however much the CP website may disclaim. Obviously if you can buy it legally, it must be all right.
Then, anyone choosing to make their own P108 shirts will have to grapple with their own comprehension of the rights and responsibilities of the First Amendment, and decide whether they, too, want to advocate murder and face the consequences of that advocacy.
posted by toodleydoodley at 7:31 AM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Treason is very narrowly and specifically defined in the constitution for a reason (go look it up). The First Amendment is crippled without it.

The definition of treason is not "hating elected officials". Hating elected officials, wishing they would die, calling them names, making bigoted jokes about them: maneuver and twist and enlarge "treason" until it fits these expressions of political dissent all you want. In the meantime, I'll apply your short-sighted definition of treason to what you're saying.

You may not say this outright, but I can tell that you're attacking the very foundations of our government, our constitution and the freedoms and protections therein. You're threatening free speech and that means you're threatening your government! And MetaFilter is giving you a platform, and that means they're giving you aid and comfort. I think you should be arrested, maybe tortured, maybe executed, for daring to question the principles that formed this wonderful country.

That's hyperbolic bullshit, right? But wait, you're right, and they're wrong, so it's different! Too bad. Speech doesn't have to be "right" to be free. If it did, do you think you'd be lucky enough to get to decide what speech is "right" and therefore protected, and what speech is not? Because the people who disagree with you have guns and money. So cling to your freedoms with dear life, like you should. Like we all should.
posted by kathrineg at 7:39 AM on November 20, 2009 [5 favorites]


People like this make me wish there was a God, an old-time, old-Testament, fire-and-brimstone Christian God. Because these fuckers would so fucking burn it's not funny. You have succeeded in converting me, Christians. Please, I beg of you O Lord. Please be real. Please be wrathful.

That's the best modern paraphrase of Psalm 55 I've ever read.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:50 AM on November 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


LOLDemocrats.
posted by seanyboy at 7:55 AM on November 20, 2009


We need to throw people who wear t-shirts in jail immediatly and/or deport them, or, you know, execute them.

Okay -- if I understand the argument correctly, the reason that we want to take this tack with the right-wing dissenters is....because Bush's admnistration took a similar tack with left-wing dissenters.

My only question is; why on EARTH would we want to stoop to Bush's level?

So long as people understand that calling for the president's death is not free speech, and that, historically speaking, calling for the violent overthrow of the government is not an exercise in protected speech — which is what this shirt does, despite protestations to the contrary — we're good.

It's wonderful that the first amendment both allows you to express that opinion, and allows ME the right to say that I disagree with you. So long as you understand that, we're good.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:10 AM on November 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


There were numerous incidents like this one during Bush's second term.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:21 AM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


My point was not "Oh lefties never said anything bad about Bush" or whatever you seem to be saying my point was. My point was that a similar t-shirt made and worn by anti-Bush folks (and getting the kind of publicity this one is apparently getting) would have gotten a bunch of "is this treason?!" talk from the usual right-wing pundits.

I don't know what your point was. My point is that there are short memories and a lot of silly hypocrisy about criticizing elected leaders. There are people in this thread (if I am reading through the fussing correctly) who claim that the anti-Obama t-shirt is treasonous. You posit that there would have been people who would have claimed that the t-shirt would have been treasonous if it were directed at President Bush. I don't doubt it.

There seem to be some who think that one shirt could be treasonous but not the other, but that seems awfully unprincipled and partisan. If a person thought that both shirts (the anti-Obama t-shirt cited in the FPP or your hypothetical anti-Bush t-shirt) were treasonous, I might admire his consistency but would consider his understanding of the Bill of Rights or the concept of treason underdeveloped at best.

I think both t-shirts would have been inappropriate and in poor taste, and that's why I called out the people calling for Vice President Cheney's death in the thread I linked. Maybe that qualifies as "is this treason?!" talk in your view.
posted by Slap Factory at 8:31 AM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


it is that I don't understand people who would wear a t-shirt like this, and so I distrust them and worry they really will manage to harm our President.

Are we (of the left) as bad as them? Well, both sides have called for the grievous bodily harm of the other so - no, neither side is blamless. It's just that the other side are operating by a set of rules that are fluid, thus saving them from accountability. I never thought the left did that - or at the least not as baldly.
posted by From Bklyn at 8:32 AM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


You posit that there would have been people who would have claimed that the t-shirt would have been treasonous if it were directed at President Bush. I don't doubt it.

Yeah, that was my point. I don't believe that the people wearing this particular t-shirt, even if it had both verses on it, are committing treason, and I don't think they're traitors. But five years ago (say), this t-shirt of worn by lefties would probably have gotten quite a different reaction from the right-wing press. That's it. That's my whole point. It's not a very original point, I'll grant you - "partisan press presents dissenters as real threats to our homeland" is like "water is wet, film at eleven."

There seem to be some who think that one shirt could be treasonous but not the other, but that seems awfully unprincipled and partisan.

And to be extra-super clear, I am not one of these people.
posted by rtha at 8:41 AM on November 20, 2009


Okay -- if I understand the argument correctly, the reason that we want to take this tack with the right-wing dissenters is....because Bush's admnistration took a similar tack with left-wing dissenters.

read, then post, kthx

Why are people still drawing these equivalencies? Is it the same brain damage that leads people to claim that both of the major political parties are equally bad? On the one hand you've got a guy who led an eight-year spree of mass murder, corruption, systematic abrogation of human and civil rights, and exacerbated a cyclic downturn in the economy so bad that eight years after it began, there still isn't any end in sight. On the other hand, there's a man who's done very little since he took office, who receives five times as many death threats as his predecessor did, and not because he's done anything but because he has the bad taste to be black and not a Republican.

These are not the same, and comparing the vitriol that is aimed at them is dumb. Claiming that the reason people want something done about people openly soliciting the man's death is only because of the aforementioned civil and human rights abuses carried out by his predecessor is dumb.

No, the t-shirts aren't treason. Guess what? That is not the only reason to ban them.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:44 AM on November 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


What is the other reason that they should be banned?

Feel free to answer without insulting anyone's mental capabilities.
posted by kathrineg at 8:54 AM on November 20, 2009


Christ almighty.
posted by gman at 9:02 AM on November 20, 2009


kathrineg : Why? Because wishing doesn't make it so.

In terms of the general efficacy of prayer, I completely agree with you. But when referencing language which could be a call to arms, I always worry that it will turn into a self-fulfilling kind of thing.

In other words, wishing in and of itself, might not do anything, but letting everyone know what your wish is, is sort of like advertising in the hopes that someone might come along and grant it for you.

But I think others have probably made this point better already.
posted by quin at 9:10 AM on November 20, 2009


anyone seen this flick?
posted by gman at 9:28 AM on November 20, 2009


[Please STFU about the STFU stuff, thank you.]
posted by cortex at 9:29 AM on November 20, 2009


No, the t-shirts aren't treason. Guess what? That is not the only reason to ban them.

Jesus Christ. People want to ban t-shirts. T-shirts.. And then assert that people who disagree are brain-damaged or dim. I am literally stupefied. No amount of special pleading changes the fact that you want to ban t-shirts. Listen to yourself.
posted by Snyder at 10:06 AM on November 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


read, then post, kthx

Pope: Firstly, it's spelled "o-k-a-y" and "t-h-a-n-k-s". You're missing the O, two As, the Y, the K, and the S. There is no X.

Secondly: I DID read this entire thread. My disagreeing with others is not an indicator of my lack of comprenehsion, you know. It is merely an indicator that I have come to a different conclusion than you have based on the data. That DOES happen amongst people, and I'm sorry your experience with others has been so limited that you can't seem to comprehend this.

Thirdly: You've said in another thread that "sarcasm is nothing new for you." From what I've seen, rudeness isn't either.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:20 AM on November 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


If someone wore one of these shirts to their local mall, would they be arrested?
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 10:27 AM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


quin: "In terms of the general efficacy of prayer, I completely agree with you. But when referencing language which could be a call to arms, I always worry that it will turn into a self-fulfilling kind of thing.

In other words, wishing in and of itself, might not do anything, but letting everyone know what your wish is, is sort of like advertising in the hopes that someone might come along and grant it for you.

But I think others have probably made this point better already.
"

I think that it's an excellent point. However, it's very difficult to regulate any kind of religious-political speech without having a chilling affect on all religious-political speech. I want my Quaker friends to be able to pray and organize for peace and social justice (an activity they have been arrested for), so I tend to err on the side of freedom of religious expression. Even for assholes.
posted by kathrineg at 10:36 AM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Remember that couple who was arrested for wearing anti-Bush t-shirts? They settled their lawsuit for $80,000. The front of the Ranks' T-shirts bore the international symbol for "no" superimposed over the word "Bush." The back of Nicole Rank's T-shirt said "Love America, Hate Bush." On the back of Jeffery Rank's T-shirt was the message "Regime Change Starts at Home." That last bit sure could be read as calling for the direct overthrow if not assassination of former President Bush.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 10:38 AM on November 20, 2009


the verse in question:
(NASB) Psalm 109:8 - "Let his days be few; and let another take his office."

people take quotes, verses, everything out of context. to say that everyone who uses that one verse also wants for his children to be fatherless, and for his wife to be a widow is just reading WAY too much into it.


The previous and subsequent passages in the Bible do not matter.

I am not an expert in ancient languages, but I would bet dollars to donuts that most of the translations of 109:8 take "Let his days be few" to mean "cut his life short."

It's more obvious than Pat Robertson's Prayer Offensive on the Supreme Court.

Anyone wearing this shirt who is not--or anyone arguing that someone praying on this Bible passage in regard to President Obama is not--praying for his death is either willfully obtuse or seriously deluded.

That said, of course the T-shirt shouldn't be prohibited. I think it's regrettable and possibly dangerous, but not illegal.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:38 AM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Guys, I need these people. Oh, you have no idea how I need these people.

I need them so that television history will show healthcare stopped dead by an illiterate mob, by a red-rover chain of sick and sleeveless arms, instead of showing it dismantled letter by letter by the very people elected to write it; and I need them to remind me that the administration is held hostage by such things as iron-on apparel, and the things we shout and scrawl in the dark of our stupidity, instead of by its own party, by venality and by the conspicuous hand of corporate influence; and I need them to punch my fear buttons again, and dial in a reason for this wiretapping that was supposed to stop, but hasn't.

And I need these people, these ones in particular, because they are such perfect little incarnations of America, my broken heartland; all denim and dirt and human fault. I think they give a remarkable human likeness to a process I cannot understand and cannot face or fathom, that takes my letters and my phone calls and donations and never once writes me back.

I am grateful that under the assault of so much news I can have a place for narrative, and that it has a place for me. I turn on the television at any hour and see a rainbow's end, the whole loud prism flattened to a single thought: culture war. The culture war is my politics take-home game, my consolation prize. So let's get to it. Let's talk about t-shirt slogans, about Mr Jones and his sublimated racism, Mrs Jones and her big fat mouth, hipsters and rednecks, Tiny Fey and Sarah Palin, the war on Christmas, the megachurch, the micro-bikini. I've picked a side and I'm ready. I've straightened my tv antennas into fencing foils. Let's roll.
posted by kid ichorous at 10:42 AM on November 20, 2009 [9 favorites]


I tend to err on the side of freedom of religious expression.

This has nothing to do with religious expression. It could be a reference to Tolkein without altering the message in the slightest.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:53 AM on November 20, 2009


Pope Guilty: Well, since you brought the KKK up, there was a little bit of a controversy back in my former home state that went on for several years. The KKK would apply for a permit, and there was always a big debate regarding if and should they have their rally. They'd get their permit, and we'd have a grand old show in which a dozen klansmen wearing all the violence-linked symbols found themselves protected by a row of cops from a few hundred counter-protesters, while Civil Rights groups attracted thousands to their own event down the street.

So really, any opportunity for bigots to look mean, petty, and trivial is a bonus in my book.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:19 AM on November 20, 2009


Ignorance is the greatest luxury.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:35 AM on November 20, 2009


I can't help but think that we wouldn't be at almost 300 comments by now if it weren't common, though usually unspoken, knowledge that right wingers have a lot more trigger-happy flywheels among their ranks than the left.

God this thread depresses the hell out of me.
posted by JHarris at 12:19 PM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


So did anyone notice that CafePress has decided to remove the 109:8 designs again?
posted by danb at 12:51 PM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


They should at the very least be removed from the general public, if not thrown out of the country and their passports shredded

You realize that if they were born in the U.S. (which most of them were), there's no legal way to do this, right?
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 1:09 PM on November 20, 2009


Pray for CafePress: Ben Kenobi on the craggy bluff above Mos Eisley Spaceport
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:31 PM on November 20, 2009


Man. I don't think this thread has near enough hysteria and hyperbole.

Listen to your selves: Supporting the terrorists? Bans? Deportation? Imprisonment?

It sure don't take much to bring out the MeFi inner Fascist.
posted by tkchrist at 2:06 PM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


You realize that if they were born in the U.S. (which most of them were), there's no legal way to do this, right?

Afroyim v. Rusk is fairly recent in the country's history. Hopefully, the right-wing nuts wearing these shirts won't go postal and the courts won't have to decide if their attempt at the violent overthrow of our government is evidence for a desire to relinquish citizenship. That's my hope, anyway.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:27 PM on November 20, 2009


Even if they did, they'd have to hold other citizenships in order for us to be able to deport them somewhere. And the U.S. doesn't like creating stateless persons, anyway.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 2:32 PM on November 20, 2009


Afroyim v. Rusk is fairly recent in the country's history.

And concerns a Polish born US citizen who voted in an Israeli election. He eventually won the case and was not deprived of citizenship. I'm not sure how that would even apply here. Besides, many of the people who would wear these shirts might not even have a passport since their idea of going abroad would be to visit family in the next state (that was a straw man).
posted by Burhanistan at 2:39 PM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Incidentally, CafePress has re-reversed its decision, and will not allow these articles of clothing.

Which is a shame, because I was really looking forward to buying a Psalm 109:8 themed thong.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 2:50 PM on November 20, 2009


Argh! danb beat me to it.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 2:50 PM on November 20, 2009


Listen to your selves: Supporting the terrorists? Bans? Deportation? Imprisonment?

It sure don't take much to bring out the MeFi inner Fascist.


tkchrist I think you're cool and I'm not saying this should be banned or anything like that. All I've said is that it is a real threat that it's meant as a threat by those who came up with it. Take it from there.
posted by nola at 2:56 PM on November 20, 2009


It sure don't take much to bring out the MeFi inner Fascist.

On the one hand, we have people using violence and force to achieve political ends. On the other, in tkchrist's mind, are the fascists.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:29 PM on November 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well, either it's a call to assassination or it's a verse used out of context. Either way, it demonstrates a shallow, secular usage of the scripture, and any real Christian should be furious and speak out against it, just as I would be furious if somebody used the story of Cuchulainn to argue for an end to whiskey

Consider it done.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:41 PM on November 20, 2009 [5 favorites]


"What is the other reason that they should be banned?

Feel free to answer without insulting anyone's mental capabilities."

There's no need to attack anyone's capabilities, these people are fucking cunts and they know it.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 3:57 PM on November 20, 2009


The people wearing the shirts are the fucking cunts here, the people angrily defending that are possibly brain damaged.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 3:58 PM on November 20, 2009


Fuzzy Monster.

I never took "regime change begins at home" as a call to assassinate Bush, probably as it's on the bumper of every prius and outback in town, and here in portland, and probably where you are, that means you're a total liberal pussy and/or strongly opposed to violence in any manner (by some standards, i'm probably a liberal pussy, and i'm not down with violence. usually.)

also, as I would say to co-workers or friends, near weekly, if the conversation would turn to politics, "i wish someone would shoot that motherfucker. on tv.", and meaning more cheney than bush, the "regime change..." sticker just sounds so tame.

but using religion to make ambiguous threats, that's just fucking creepy.
posted by rainperimeter at 3:59 PM on November 20, 2009


UR STUPID, NO U
posted by Ouisch at 4:19 PM on November 20, 2009


It isn't just religious fundamentalists who pull a line here or a line there out of context; I see this all the time in lit. class with some people who lack vocabulary or the particular reading skills necessary to "translate" somewhat archaic language, unpack complex embedded sentence structures or inverted syntax, make literal-figurative distinctions, explore the associations and connotations of words, or follow the logic and conceptual "outline" of a passage longer than a sentence or two.

So they yank out one striking, easily comprehensible statement (or a few randomly pulled from here and there) as the "point" of the larger piece or take that one bit of text and extrapolate a completely speculative reading of the whole that has ZERO to do with the actual topic or words on the page.

Regardless of literacy issues, though, what the fuck is wrong with people? Even if it were just loudly wishing someone dead rather than a wink-nudge, we just have no civil political discourse or common courtesy left, do we? Not that political speech has ever been or needs to be pretty, but come on. It's one thing to say, "I should suffer the misery of devils, were I to make a whore of my soul by swearing allegiance to one whose character is that of a sottish, stupid, stubborn, worthless, brutish man" and another to gleefully express your desire for someone to die.

I wouldn't even be surprised if some of the people who sport the tees would happily sit down with Malia and Sasha Obama and explain to them why their father's death would be a great thing. All this nastiness is so fucking shameful -- regardless of whom it's directed at. If you reach the stage where you seriously think that (someone or SomeDeity) executing your opponents is a reasonable approach, then you've really just completely run out of anything productive to bring to the table.
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:45 PM on November 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


"What is the other reason that they should be banned?

Feel free to answer without insulting anyone's mental capabilities."

There's no need to attack anyone's capabilities, these people are fucking cunts and they know it.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg Almost an hour ago [+]

The people wearing the shirts are the fucking cunts here, the people angrily defending that are possibly brain damaged.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg Almost an hour ago [+]


Keeping it classy, I see.
posted by kathrineg at 4:55 PM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


New Missouri billboard tells Americans to ‘prepare for war’ against the government.
posted by ericb at 5:05 PM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


"revolution of a corrupt government"

Um, did someone mention literacy issues?

But actually, I bet the ranch they started with the word "overthrow," which would idiomatically be followed by "of" and then the pantywaists chickened out.
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:10 PM on November 20, 2009


That is, unless they actually want to see the government revolve.
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:11 PM on November 20, 2009


New Missouri billboard tells Americans to ‘prepare for war’ against the government.

If calling for war on our democratically-elected government is not the textbook definition of treason, even if it is the right-wing doing it, the word doesn't have meaning any longer.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:21 PM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I like the honesty of the series of steps on that billboard.

#2: Change our leaders through the democratic process, as laid out by the founding fathers.

#3: Fuck it. Pass the guns.
posted by brundlefly at 5:27 PM on November 20, 2009


On the one hand, we have people using violence and force to achieve political ends. On the other, in tkchrist's mind, are the fascists.

Where? Where is this violence in the T-shirt wearing and praying? Simply wearing a t-shirt is now an act of violence? You guys have really gone full circle on this one.

Is this thing meant as a threat? You bet. Is it actually a threat? Fuck no. No more a threat than say Cop Killa was to the LA PD anyway. I mean, sure, it could incite some lunatic. But so could a Jody Foster movie. BAN JODIE FOSTER!

Pope don't worry. I don't think you're a fascist. That would require you and blazecock posses self-discipline and some sort ability to do something about your hysterical and clearly hypocritical rantings. Which I know you won't. You both are on MeFi like 24/7. You both are as inert, harmless, and annoying as poo gas. Much like 90% of the people who will wear these idiotic t-shirts.

The other 10%? Luckily most of them are lazy of lack the appropriate skills to be real killers it's that 1-2% that actually have the skill and the motivation that worry me. And they're gonna do it with or with out a t-shirt.

The problem is not the T-shirts or prayers. It's the fundamental underlying ideology of ignorance and hate. Of no tolerance for other views. And of blind stupidity.

Banning a t-shirt will do about as much to stem the tide of stupid hatred in this country as banning rap music will stop cop shootings. In fact it would be idiotic to attempt to implement some sort of legal ban this t-shirt ( or a law to deport Ann Coulter or what ever impossible stupid shit you think could happen). It would completely back fire. I can just see it now. Legally marginalizing and ban free speech? THAT would incite these idiots to violence for sure.

This country is indeed taking a dangerous turn. I definitely see the type of mob violence mentality brewing like you saw in Serbia in the late 1980's. You want to stop it? Confront it. Stand up to it. Show it's flaws. Succeed where it doesn't. You want it to fester? Force it into the shadows with bans. You want it to explode? Make it a victim of deportations and imprisonment.

Interesting to see which side of the equation some MeFites will fall when they get all emotionally over invested, though. It's nice to know who I will able to manipulate when my fascist dictatorship takes over.
posted by tkchrist at 5:35 PM on November 20, 2009 [5 favorites]


You both are as inert, harmless, and annoying as poo gas

And given how easily you throw the word fascist around, you possess the rational capability of a rock.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:40 PM on November 20, 2009


Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!

(that's sarcasm, just so everyone's clear, here)
posted by Zalzidrax at 5:43 PM on November 20, 2009


If calling for war on our democratically-elected government is not the textbook definition of treason

My god. WAKE UP SHEEPLE!

So you advocate arresting and putting on trial the persons who paid for that sign? How is this gonna happen? Who is gonna do it? You? A citizens arrest?

Sorry to inform you but you are not King George III.

That billboard, while hopelessly ignorant, is STILL covered by the First Amendment. As it should be. But you could lobby to change the law. Or if you feel there is a strong enough precedent file a legal complaint. Please. Please. Do this. And keep us informed in this thread of your progress.
This whole thread is hilarious. A keeper. Would favorite again and again.

Somehow, I don't see you mounting this vocal of a liberalization of treason statutes and mounting such a strong advocacy for treason trials while Duhbya was in the White House.
posted by tkchrist at 5:51 PM on November 20, 2009


And given how easily you throw the word fascist around

Hey, I'm I'm not the one claiming people should be imprisoned or deported.

you possess the rational capability of a rock

ZING! You mean: The Rock!

C'mon Blaze. Give us a good flame out here. Call for my deportation. Or at least my teleportation.
posted by tkchrist at 5:53 PM on November 20, 2009


But you could lobby to change the law.

I don't need to lobby to change the law. Again, it's a question of enforcement, and given that the right-wing is involved, the law will not be enforced.

Somehow, I don't see you mounting this vocal of a liberalization of treason statutes and mounting such a strong advocacy for treason trials while Duhbya was in the White House.

And there you go again with another false equivalence. You guys just love making those. It's so adorable!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:56 PM on November 20, 2009


And there you go again with another false equivalence.

How so? Because Bush did things that you think actually warranted violent overthrow, so it would be okay to advocate violent overthrow and NOT be treasonous?

Of what false equivalence do you speak, there Mr. Treason?

Bush did some really awful things. Some, IMHO, very illegal things. Sometimes I wished he was dead. But in reality I wanted him voted out or impeached.

However, there were plenty of people who advocated for violent overthrow his presidency. You would not have look to hard. There are people who advocate for the violent overthrow of every presidency. There is no lack of t-shirts and bumper stickers. So it's your opinion those stickers were not treasonous because Bush and every other president before Obama was wrong?

I'm sure you've always been this consistent in your views on treason and have spoke of it when treasonous speech offends your sensibilities. Hamburger.

YOUR defining treason as advocating the violent overthrow of ANY democratically elected government.

Unless your claiming Bush stole 2001 and 2004 and was not constitutionally elected. Which might be true. Is that it? What about Clinton. Or Bush I.

I have a sneaking suspicion that when you ponder on it your opinion on Treason will oscillate with the neck tie color of the executive branch.
posted by tkchrist at 6:12 PM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


How so? Because Bush did things that you think actually warranted violent overthrow, so it would be okay to advocate violent overthrow and NOT be treasonous?

Who the hell ever said they supported violent overthrow of the Bush whitehouse tk?

I've never seen that ever anywhere and saying that anyone did really shows what you're missing here man.
posted by nola at 6:17 PM on November 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Again, it's a question of enforcement, and given that the right-wing is involved, the law will not be enforced.

So what are you doing to see it's enforced? I mean my god. It's treason, right? I wouldn't sleep until I routed out these treasonsous dogs if i believed it was gonna bring down the government.

I tell you what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna get the ball rolling for you. Or actually against you. I'm gonna call the ACLU right now and ask them if this Billboard constitutes as treason and if it's not treason would they defend this group. this might take a while for somebody to get back to me since it's Friday after 6pm. I will keep you informed.
posted by tkchrist at 6:18 PM on November 20, 2009


Who the hell ever said they supported violent overthrow of the Bush whitehouse tk?

Your kidding me? In my weaker moments I DID. I've seen hundreds of t-shirt here in Seattle like "Shock and Awe" showing a bomber over the White House.

Look I'm using Blazecock definition here. Not mine.


I've never seen that ever anywhere and saying that anyone did really shows what you're missing here man.

What I'm missing? I'm not missing that Blazecock and Pope want shit banned and people deported and imprisoned for writing books and making T-shirts. That's the kind of hysterical bullshit that scares me.

Where have you been? How can you justify statements like that.
posted by tkchrist at 6:23 PM on November 20, 2009


Also nola he's claiming I made false equivalence. Was that it? that Bush was illegitimate and a threat to him isn't Treason? I mean that word got thrown around ALOT during Bush I. And there were plenty of suggestive and somewhat threatening T-shirts made by the left. Maybe not as direct in most cases. But so what. IT'S A FUCKING T-SHIRT!
posted by tkchrist at 6:27 PM on November 20, 2009


BTW. All I got was an message at the ACLU. I'll keep trying.
posted by tkchrist at 6:33 PM on November 20, 2009


I don't think anyone should be deported or locked up for wearing a tshirt, if that's even what anyone is saying in here.

I just think there is a noticable difference between what I saw and heard from the left during Bush and what I'm seeing now.

invoking Old Testament; "Kill the king" language from a group of people known for killing people they hate (take George Tiller) is not the same as a bunch of stinky hippies playing with devil sticks and getting baked at a anti war rally.

The shirt is just a sign pointing out what people are thinking and talking about. Namely that someone (God maybe) should kill that n***er.

They got my attention.
posted by nola at 6:39 PM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Not to piss your beer and then leave but it's my birthday and the handful of people still foolish enough to call me their friend have offered to by me booze so I'm out of here.

Keep on truckin' and whip inflation now.
posted by nola at 6:42 PM on November 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


I don't need to lobby to change the law. Again, it's a question of enforcement, and given that the right-wing is involved, the law will not be enforced.

Oh yeah, all the prosecutions of left-wing groups since 1957. Dozens, nay, hundreds, NAY THOUSANDS of people have been prosecuted in the past half-century under the Smith act, and it's only because of law enforcement bias that prevents right-wingers from being prosecuted. Sure. Uh-huh. Mmmm.
posted by Snyder at 7:31 PM on November 20, 2009


I'll keep trying.

You keep trying, Good American.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:22 PM on November 20, 2009


Happy birthday, nola.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:34 PM on November 20, 2009


I don't think anyone should be deported or locked up for wearing a tshirt, if that's even what anyone is saying in here.


Nola, BP has repeatedly and consistently called for this. Like it or not, it is being forwarded. Now, Blazecock Pileon is trying to explain why this might be justified (I think it's ludicrous and sad to call for any citizen's deportation due to a t-shirt), but he has on numerous posts advocated for it. It's there. Several times. I don't want to pull through the whole thread and quote each one because I think that would be needless.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 3:49 AM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


While we're taking score, I had also advocated for the prosecution of the people who manufacture and profit financially from calling for the murder of the President and declaring war on a legally-elected government, requiring politically-motivated acts of violence of the kind that have already occurred in 2008 and 2009. What's ludicrous is the stubborn argument that this behavior is free speech, given the murders and other violence committed to date.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:04 AM on November 21, 2009


People will always push the line as with every administration. As a non-religious independent, I watch and listen to both sides in all the media. It definitely seems the far right has the most rabid of all the commentators. While I may agree with much of what they have to say, it's a huge turn of when they arrogantly say "I am Sean Hannity, and I am a great American". Then they call the president: Barack Hussien Obama, to equate him with Saddam. Great Americans do not insult their president. They don't have to support him, but they don't insult him. There is a fine line between self righteousness and indignation. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck; cross it.
posted by cdavidc at 6:56 AM on November 21, 2009


Limbaugh is on record as saying he doesn't give a flying fuck about the Constitution. In his mind, and the minds of his idiot followers, that somehow makes him a great American. It's a topsy-turvy world there.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:10 AM on November 21, 2009


small note. i strongly dislike hannity. i strongly dislike limbaugh. many conservative people i know strongly dislike both of them as well.

but to say this explicitly says kill obama is going entirely too far to me. if it did, thats one thing. but it is in no way, shape or form any worse than what i saw/heard at my small, liberal arts school about bush. its just not that big of a deal. people are going to disagree, often strongly, with politians.

also, calling someone an "idiot" as an insult, to me, is just...weak. if they are truly that stupid, then there should be no problem to create a logical, thought out arguement against their viewpoint. just because you disagree with someone doesnt mean they are "idiots."
posted by knockoutking at 11:08 AM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


but it is in no way, shape or form any worse than what i saw/heard at my small, liberal arts school about bush.

False equivalence after false equivalence. It never ceases.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:12 PM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


This from the person calling these people terrorists, 9/11 style.
posted by kathrineg at 12:37 PM on November 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


You keep saying that. False equivalence! You know just claiming something is a false equivalence doesn't make it so. Like claiming something is treasonous doesn't just make it so. Not just because, like, you say so.

You can't claim there were no T-shirt slogans and what have you, at all, that were in a similar vein of implying some sort of violent action to oust the Bush administration. You could, I suppose, claim you never heard of any. But you can't claim there were none in existence. You weren't everywhere. It is a completely untenable claim. The "shock and awe (with a bomber over the White House)" t-shirt I mentioned, there clearly was some speech that bordered on you're own definition of so-called incitement.

You might be able to claim there wasn't was a movement of people, like the tea-baggers, that were truly motivated to the fringe of intimidating mob actions who were attracted to those kinds of anti-Bush slogans. However I saw people at a rally I went to here burning Bush effigies. So. There were a few.

What there weren't under the opposition to Bush were people going to Republican rallies and town hall meetings with guns like the Tea Baggers have with Obama. But clearly there is orders of magnitude difference between brandishing an actual loaded assault rifle at a crowded rally and wearing an incendiary T-shirt. And there is a huge chasm between wearing a t-shirt or putting up a billboard and going at shooting an abortion doctor.

To me the only person making such wild false equivalences here is you.

Now I am no free-speech absolutist. That said we have traveled pretty far down the rabbit hole of absurdity when a person who claims to be a liberal progressive starts touting the under application of the Smith Act, starts calling out people for treason, and calling for the imprisonment of people based on t-shirt and billboard slogans.

I am steadfstly opposed to the actual violent overthrow of a democratically elected government. Actual treason — people planning, plotting, training, arming, and putting into motion the actual take over of freely elected government— is a very bad thing.

A T-shirt. A billboard. Where is your evidence that the people profiting from those things are actually planning, really planning, an overthrow of the government? Please present this evidence immediately.

All you can claim is that it might incite people to be violent. Sure. It might. So might Cop Killa incite youths to kill cops. Video games might incite kids to go Columbine. It's tricky and tenuous argument to make. Once you go down the road to banning speech and deporting or imprisoning people FOR SPEECH, with out hard physical evidence linking this speech to a particular illegal action, you open up a huge potential for not only blow-back but more chaos than the so-called dangerous speech could cause.

The band I mentioned, Coffin Break, they wrote a song in 1988 called "Kill The President." The lyrics specifically say how bad Rob Skinner wants to kill the president. They made T-shirt with "Kill The President" on them. It still sells occasionally. They are STILL making money on this. Profiting from it. By Blazecocks definition this is treasonous. Or at least ban worthy. I don't see how he can claim otherwise. Yet I hear no calls to lock them up.

It's absurd. I know blazecock just said it off the cuff, not thinking it through, and now his ego is forcing him to retro-fit some sort of legitimacy into the claim. Who hasn't done that before? I have. But really. It's fucking stupid and he knows it.
posted by tkchrist at 2:02 PM on November 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


It's tricky and tenuous argument to make.

You and your fellow apologists have been arguing that the rise in right-wing extremist violence from 2008 to today, which has led to the deaths of several people, and a campaign of violent, anti-government propaganda are equivalent with calling for Bush to be impeached and prosecuted through the legal system. You and your fellow apologists can scroll up and read your own comments right there.

In other words, you keep making false equivalence after false equivalence. You know there wasn't anywhere near the violent activity during the Bush years, but you keep making it up as you go along. Your false equivalences are stupid and you know it. They are easy to spot.

I am steadfstly opposed to the actual violent overthrow of a democratically elected government.

No, you're not. That much is clear.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:19 PM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Again specifically what false equivalence? Spell it the fuck out. I don't think you know what the words mean. You're sitting there equating a t-shirt, a billboard, and books by morons like Coulter with terrorism, 9/11, and treason.

My fellow apologists? Your really too much blazecock. Here you are going on throwing around accusations of TREASON for fuck sake. You sound like a more hysterical version of Dwight Schroot.

You keep conflating abortion doctor shootings and shit with these t-shirts and billboards. Please PROVE the fucking connection. Please prove that there is legal grounds to deport, imprison, or even ban the people making these t-shirts and billboards.

First off, you can't. Nobody can. As fucked up as these t-shirts and billboards are — as desperate and divisve our political climate is — unless you can prove a connection, like funds from them are gong to a group of people buying guns or something you're full of shit. And you know it. you are left with only your opinion that it's kinda like treason. Which, outside of King Blazecocks Court of Hysteria, ain't enough in a court of law.

So then you are left with the facts. "Kill The President" by Coffin Break is every bit as much as incendiary to violence — IN THE ABSENCE OF A PROVABLE DIRECT CONNECTION TO SPECIFIC ACT — as this idiotic Psalm T-Shirt is.

you may want to, for five seconds, entertain the notion that the reason nobody is kicking in doors serving subpoenas and arresting terror cells connect to these T-shirts and Bill boards is because they do NOT in point of fact violate the Smith Act. You may want to entertain that, maybe.

No, you're not. That much is clear.


Yes clearly. Because I'm not down with witch hunts and tribunals to prosecute people for treason, which the punishment can be death, with no frigg'n evidence, then clearly I'm for the violent overthrow of the US.

This thread is comedy gold. Gold, Jerry, GOLD!
posted by tkchrist at 6:17 PM on November 21, 2009


You keep conflating abortion doctor shootings and shit with these t-shirts and billboards. Please PROVE the fucking connection.

Actually, it's a pattern of violence and treasonous sedition from white supremacists and religious extremists in 2008 and 2009 that has extended beyond Dr. Tiller — what you refer to as "shootings and shit".

I alluded to some of the details in a previous comment. If you want to, you can learn more from well-researched right-wing extremist watchdog groups like the ADL and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Orcinus is a well-researched analysis site, as well.

Which, outside of King Blazecocks Court of Hysteria

I'll note that you're the only one who is behaving in a hysterical manner.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:33 PM on November 21, 2009


I really don't get how these people can call themselves patriots when they advocate killing the president. He's the leader of the country, love him or hate him, and advocating his demise is not the height of patriotism, and neither was it to advocate for the early departure from this Earth of GW. If a patriot wants a politician out, that patriot uses the system, voting. Subverting the system is for anarchists, traitors, etc. Don't call yourself a patriot when you are trying to pull down the duly elected government you traitors. Hmmmm, what is the penalty for treason....., during war.....?
posted by caddis at 6:40 PM on November 21, 2009


You keep conflating abortion doctor shootings and shit with these t-shirts and billboards. Please PROVE the fucking connection.

I am sorry, but this is idiotic (sorry, knockoutking).

Obama is getting 4x the threats as Bush. By and large, these threats are being made by who aren't idealistic kids supporting peace and pot, they tend to be middle- and old-agers who support guns, wars of aggression, and police-state mentality.

There is a qualitative difference in the thinking between the two types of people that have been discussed in this thread. There is a threat difference between loud-mouthed idealistic college kids, and middle-aged concealed-carry members of the NRA. It is facile and simple-minded to claim that they are equivalent.

While BP may be a lefty-loony in this thread, going to the other extreme and claiming that these t-shirts and the message they imply is utterly harmless is Just. Plain. Idiotic.

Banning the t-shirts may be a bit extreme. Treating those who wear them with a degree of caution, on the other hand, is probably a bit more warranted.

And one last thing: t-shirts like Psalm 108:9 is why you can't have nice things.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:52 PM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


A single molecule of gasoline vapor in a room won't cause problems, but someone who fills a room with gasoline vapors and claims that it wasn't his fault because it wasn't him that lit the match is not someone you're going to trust, is it?

These t-shirts contribute to an environment in which seriously and openly talking about murdering the President of the United States of America is no longer unthinkable- it's part of the accepted right-wing discourse. As I alluded to upthread, the right is currently at the stage of talking itself into it, getting itself to a point where actually doing it looks more and more attractive, more and more conceivable, more and more like something that is acceptable and even righteous to do.

These t-shirts are molecules of gasoline vapor; in and of themselves, divorced from any context, they don't seem harmful or dangerous. But there is nothing in the world that occurs outside of a context; the room is slowly filling, and these t-shirts are one more element in the slowly rising wave of homicidal sentiment and rhetoric that creates an environment in which people who otherwise might not have regarded violence as conceivable come to view it as acceptable.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:34 PM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


> You keep conflating abortion doctor shootings and shit with these t-shirts and billboards. Please PROVE the fucking connection.

Actually, it's a pattern of violence and treasonous sedition from white supremacists and religious extremists in 2008 and 2009 that has extended beyond Dr. Tiller — what you refer to as "shootings and shit".


If VIOLENCE is what you're afraid of, why not advocate for banning GUNS instead of T-SHIRTS?

If you're banning words, you're afraid of thoughts.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:57 PM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


You're fucking right I'm afraid of thoughts. I'm afraid of what happens when a double-digit percentage of the population thinks that murdering politicians is legitimate political action. That you're not is a sign of extreme naivete.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:01 PM on November 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well, one cannot ban thoughts, as frightening as they are.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 3:40 AM on November 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, one cannot ban thoughts, as frightening as they are.

We can prosecute seditious and traitorous actions, though, as unpleasant as that necessity may be, in the face of increasing right-wing extremist violence.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:05 AM on November 22, 2009



Again specifically what false equivalence? Spell it the fuck out. I don't think you know what the words mean. You're sitting there equating a t-shirt, a billboard, and books by morons like Coulter with terrorism, 9/11, and treason.

First BP I think that at this point the whole "seditious and traitorous actions" is going to far.

I only bring it up to get tkchrist to let go of the red meat for a minute and listen.

The problem tk is not freedom of speach the problem is a President who has been in the office for less than a year getting more (4x) death threats than bush ever got at any point in his amazing career.

The problem is that it looks really bad for this President as far as his survivability.

I've got no idea what to do about it at this point but tk if you're saying there is an equivalence between what this President is getting and what Bush got I think you're as funny as you think BP is.

Did Coffin Break write their song "Kill the President" 10 months after Bush had been sworn in? Did hippies in Seattle start comparing Bush to hitler before 9/11? no? Before Shock and Awe? Sometime after Abu Ghraib ?

You know what happened I don't have to list it. 8 years man. People had enough, did they kill anyone? No. Do you really think we're gonna make it out of the first 4 years without somebody getting shot, with all this anger coming out of the extrem right . . . after only 10 FUCKING MONTHS?

Jesus stop having a non starter with BP and get real.
posted by nola at 6:56 AM on November 22, 2009


We can prosecute seditious and traitorous actions, though, as unpleasant as that necessity may be, in the face of increasing right-wing extremist violence.

You're absolutely right. We can prosecute against seditious and traitorous ACTIONS.

ACTIONS. NOT THOUGHTS.

ACTIONS ARE NOT THOUGHTS.

I'm afraid of what happens when a double-digit percentage of the population thinks that murdering politicians is legitimate political action. That you're not is a sign of extreme naivete.

A double-digit percentage of the population also believes in the Easter Bunny. Does that mean you take them at their word as well?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:28 AM on November 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


You are absolutely ridiculous and I think I'm done talking to you.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:47 AM on November 22, 2009


We can prosecute against seditious and traitorous ACTIONS.

Yah, problem with that theory: Obama will be dead. And come to think of it, it wouldn't surprise me if such an ACTION ended up starting a minor conflagration of killings across the USA.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:59 AM on November 22, 2009



I've got no idea what to do about it at this point but tk if you're saying there is an equivalence between what this President is getting and what Bush got I think you're as funny as you think BP is.

No. I'm not saying that.

Jesus. I have said over and over the difference IS the ideology. The problem is BP and Pope are saying that the speech is seditious. They're the ones making false equivalences that this speech is treason is tantamount to terrorism. You should be convincing them. Not me.

What do you want ME to do about these T-shirts and billboards?

I'll tell you what I think you should do. You should shout down and boycott imbeciles like the T-shirt makers and wearers with every bit the vehemence and passion that you should should down proto-fascist tendencies like BP's. Listen to him. We're "apologists" if we don't believe these t-shirts are treason. What's next? Do we all have to take the BP loyalty oath? Is it "You're with BP or you're with the terrorists"?

FTR. I'm comparing the speech. Not the ideologies. I'm not sure why this distinction is so hard to grasp. I don't know how many times it has to be said. At this point the context only matters in terms of your own personal political choices. It's not grounds for sedition trials. I think you agree with that.

Yes. It's clearly disturbing that Obama is getting 4x the death threats of Bush, And it's equally predictable. I fully expect an attempt on his life in the next couple of years. And? We have the FBI. We have LEO organizations. We have due process.

Stopping these billboard and t-shirts with bans and arrests would do what exactly? If Obama gets shot tomorrow can you seriously tell me that deporting Anne Coulter, banning these t-shirts, and slogans would have done one single thing to stop it? Really? You know what you'd have to do. Arrest and interrogate hundreds or thousands of people until you got enough information to maybe find that one guy making real plans. If we follow BP's treason thinking that's where that will lead. If that's what we need to do to keep the republic, then we have already lost it.

You say your against bans and all this talk of treason. Good. Then you should tell BP to shut the fuck up about it. Because his kind of thinking is every bit as dangerous to the republic as the Tea Baggers. In BP's mind we should start bans, trials, deportations and what else? If you all can't grasp how fucked up that is then there is no hope for liberalism in this country.

You CAN be disturbed by this speech. Anybody with half a brain should be. In fact I wholly support a boycott of Cafe Press or publishing companies that support people like Coulter.

Locking people up for Sedition and Treason based on, well, nothing but disturbing speech is insane. And Illegal. BP knows this. He's full of shit. I wonder if BP has initiated a Boycott. Or has he contacted a prosecutor's office or any legal authority? No. It's BP private little treason party. He has managed to make yet another thread about him.

Somehow not one single prosecutor in the country is issuing subpoenas or arresting the T-shirt and Billboard people. BP claims it's a right wing conspiracy. How ever the simple application of Occams razor and common sense would suggest that perhaps it's because it's not illegal or seditious speech at all. Context or not.

The simple fact that nobody is getting arrested for treason based on T-shirts and Billboards COMFORTS me. It tells me we haven't gone so far down the fascistic knee-jerk world BP seems to think would be so awesome. That we still live in a country with freedoms.
posted by tkchrist at 10:29 AM on November 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


Yah, problem with that theory: Obama will be dead. And come to think of it, it wouldn't surprise me if such an ACTION ended up starting a minor conflagration of killings across the USA.

And? You don't think the FBI has their eyes on these people? You don't think they watch this kind of thing? Fuck, we complain when they watch lefty groups. But you know this is what they do. If there is evidence that actions are going to happen they will act. Or do you want a wider interpretation of the Smith Act or a new Patriot Act? How do you prevent this shit without violating due process?

So what do you want to do about it? At least BP is honest and up-front about his thinking.

What would you do? I say boycott. You've said no bans, no treason trials, no deportations, good, I now assume you're sane. So. What else is there?

Panic. Run around terrified that some nuts are planning to bring down the country? What else is new. These people are ALWAYS there.

So. What? I'm serious.
posted by tkchrist at 10:37 AM on November 22, 2009



We can prosecute seditious and traitorous actions,


These T-shirts and billboards are not plans or a call for specific actions. They are political speech.
posted by tkchrist at 10:42 AM on November 22, 2009 [2 favorites]



I'm afraid of what happens when a double-digit percentage of the population thinks that murdering politicians is legitimate political action.


I am too. And sedition trials, speech bans, and deportation are the answer?
posted by tkchrist at 10:46 AM on November 22, 2009


[...] In March, Secret Service chief Mark Sullivan told a House Appropriations subcommittee that threats to individuals protected by the Secret Service “remain at high levels.” Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan told NEWSWEEK that those figures are now out of date. According to Donovan, there were “substantial spikes” in the rate of threats the service received against Obama before and after last year’s presidential election, and then again before and after Obama’s inauguration last January. Over succeeding months, however, the rate of threats has dropped substantially, Donovan said—so substantially that while the average number of threats received is running at about the same level as it did during the presidencies of George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, on some recent days the rate of threats received against Obama has actually been lower than the rate during the reigns of Clinton and W. Donovan said that it was almost unprecedented for the Secret Service to discuss threat levels in such detail, but said the agency is going public because it is concerned that outdated information continues to circulate regarding a tidal wave of Obama-related threats. [here]

Emphasis mine. In short, death threats tend to spike during changes in office, and comparing the simple averages of per-diem threats between a new administration versus an eight-year incumbency is a terribly unsound approach. Can we unclench now?
posted by kid ichorous at 10:57 AM on November 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Also, that billboard is so sad. In '03 it might have taken some stones; today, it reads like an exit sign to some deprecated stretch of highway where early Springsteen songs go to die.
posted by kid ichorous at 11:06 AM on November 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


We can prosecute against seditious and traitorous ACTIONS.

Yah, problem with that theory: Obama will be dead. And come to think of it, it wouldn't surprise me if such an ACTION ended up starting a minor conflagration of killings across the USA.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:59 AM on November 22


so what do you suggest, throwing anyone who has paid for this shirt into prison? maybe just deport them?

maybe we should do it retro-actively? anyone who said anything like this about bush - send them to prison or deport them as well?

...come on. really? what are we are going to prosecute for thought crimes? minority report-style?
posted by knockoutking at 11:08 AM on November 22, 2009


These T-shirts and billboards are not plans or a call for specific actions.

The t-shirt very clearly expresses a call for violence done on to the president, and the billboard very clearly expresses a call for violent revolution against the government.

You can try to make a case that these seditious and treasonous expressions are "free speech", perhaps through deliberate and dishonest semantic gymnastics on the part of their creators, consumers and yourself when confronted with direct questions about them, but they do nonetheless call for specific actions.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:07 PM on November 22, 2009


You can try to make a case that these seditious and treasonous expressions are "free speech", perhaps through deliberate and dishonest semantic gymnastics on the part of their creators,

The thing is, no one has to make a case that these are not "seditious and treasonous expressions," you have to show that they are. We don't live in a world where either

A: All speech is considered seditious and treasonous until proven otherwise.

B: Blazecock gets to make whatever assertions he wants, and anyone who disagrees is considered an apologist and/or not very bright, until they prove their disagreement to Blazecock's satisfaction.

You have to show that this is seditious and treasonous, and so far, despite you falsely equivocating t-shirt makers to mass murderers and naked appeals to emotionalism, you haven't and I don't think you can.
posted by Snyder at 1:33 PM on November 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Would these shirts be received any differently if they expressed a desire to murder a private citizen?
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:38 PM on November 22, 2009


The t-shirt very clearly expresses a call for violence done on to the president, and the billboard very clearly expresses a call for violent revolution against the government.

And again according to your definition of a specific "call for violence done on to the president" so does the Coffin Break song "Kill The President." Aaaand we are back to square one again.

Maaaybe, just maybe, it's actually not a specific enough "threat" to meet the statues of the Smith Act. Except in your head.

Naw. Couldn't be that. Must be a conspiracy intimidating every single attorney generals office in the country.

So. Have you called a lawyer or prosecutor yet? Didn't think so.
posted by tkchrist at 4:45 PM on November 22, 2009



Would these shirts be received any differently if they expressed a desire to murder a private citizen?


I used to own a "Kill Lou Guzzo" t-shirt. Ah. Those were the days.
posted by tkchrist at 4:46 PM on November 22, 2009


Can we unclench now?

Well that made me feel a little better.

I'm probably just a bit more worried in general these days because of my child. I see trouble differently then I did when I was 25 when I had only me to look after. Growing up in a rightwing fundamentalist christian household I understand what the maker of this Tshirt is really saying and seeing that was one of those 'OMG THIS SHIT IS GETTING TO REAL' moments. I really hope that this is just angry dissent and nothing more. In short; no I'm not for people being prosecuted for ideas, yes I am for keeping an eye on hardcore nutters.
posted by nola at 4:49 PM on November 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


Blazecock Pileon: You can try to make a case that these seditious and treasonous expressions are "free speech", perhaps through deliberate and dishonest semantic gymnastics on the part of their creators, consumers and yourself when confronted with direct questions about them, but they do nonetheless call for specific actions.

Seditious and treasonous expressions are "free speech" because the entire concept within American politics is derived from the fact that there wouldn't be an United States if brave persons hadn't flaunted colonial restrictions to advocate sedition and treason against Crown and Parliament. I also remember my journalism law course in which the very real and arguably justified fears of Communist and Socialist groups in the wake of the Russian Revolution resulted in laws that destroyed an entire industry of non-English presses in the United States.

It's a line that like torture, shouldn't be crossed willy-nilly, especially using such blatant slippery slope arguments like molecules of gasoline. The last time I heard that argument outside of anti-muslim hate sites was in the Regan era.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:04 PM on November 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


On the billboard: wow. I kind of hope they do try to "Starve the Beast, keep your money," because I bet the IRS loves people like that.
posted by JHarris at 5:50 PM on November 22, 2009


nola: "In short; no I'm not for people being prosecuted for ideas, yes I am for keeping an eye on hardcore nutters."

Great, you agree with pretty much everyone in this thread, even those of us who are "not very bright."
posted by kathrineg at 6:04 PM on November 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I haven't backed down from what I said in anyway kathrineg I've clarified what I think for some. You aren't very bright because you keep insisting that this Tshirt is not a real threat to anyone because prayer doesn't work (like anyone said that prayer was the threat)

Like football teams aren't a real threat to their opposition because they pray before kickoff.

"Hey coach, this one is in the bag. I was just over at their locker room and they were praying so I guess they expect God to run the ball for them"

You missed the point and kept missing the point and now I'm having to spell it out for you again because between me and 20 or so other people explained it and you still didn't get it.

The point is really simple, what a mother prays for sometimes a son answers.

That is the threat. The threat is an environment in which people call for "god" to kill the leader of the free world "work through us lord. Let us be your vessel." and then someone becomes the vessel and we all sit here typing about how crazy all that shit was and why did that guy do such a crazy thing.


So no you're not to bright, you've demonstrated in this thread and others that you are a recalcitrant know-it-all to busy talking to listen let alone hear.


Great, you agree with pretty much everyone in this thread, even those of us who are "not very bright."

You see right there, you haven't bothered to read what I've writen. No where have I said anything other than what you've quoted me as saying. You've just not been paying attention.
posted by nola at 6:33 PM on November 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wow. Multiple paragraphs about how not-bright I am. Good job, dude. Keep it up.
posted by kathrineg at 6:44 PM on November 22, 2009


Well which is it you want it short and sweet or do you prefer the long version?

Really, there's no pleasing some people.
posted by nola at 6:50 PM on November 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Disclaimer: IAOALS (I am only a law student), and not a Constitutional scholar by any stretch.

These t-shirts, these bumper stickers, these Tweets and emails, they’re vile. Really, really vile. So are the jackasses who are tickled at their own perceived cleverness at coming up with this particular meme. If you walk up to me while wearing one of these shirts, I’ll consider it an act of the purest self-control if I refrain from spontaneously vomiting all over you.

That said, I still think that the speech contained in these loathsome things is constitutionally-protected speech. (And I repeat: IAOALS, so my analysis certainly could be flawed. But here I go nonetheless.)

There are very few forms of speech that the Supreme Court has deemed to be unprotected by the First Amendment. Incitement is one of them. In short, if you are arrested and charged under a particular state incitement statute (like the old “criminal syndicalist” laws common in the early 20th century), the First Amendment will not protect you.

On first glance, “Pray for Obama: Psalm 109:8” can certainly be read as incitement, a coded message among anti-Obama True Believers to do something about him, like, say, make his wife a widow and his children fatherless. But the Supreme Court set a high bar for unprotected speech in 1969 with Brandenburg v. Ohio, which held that government cannot punish inflammatory speech unless it is a) intended to incite and b) likely to incite imminent lawless action – as in, action that will occur imminently, and not at some undetermined time in the future.

To use a facile example: If you are standing on a street full of people angry at a series of recent judicial rulings, and you say “we should really kill some judges,” that may be hateful, violent speech, but it’s still protected speech. Even if you’re not just talking smack, even if you are sincere in your anger, and you’re standing in a crowd of like-minded sincere angry people, even if you intend for your words to inspire someone to kill a judge, if you’re all 200 miles from the nearest courthouse, you’re not inciting imminent lawless action. Even if someone hops into a car and starts a 200-mile drive, there’s still plenty of time for law enforcement to intercept her, or for her to change her mind, turn around and come home.

On the other hand, if you’re on that same street full of angry people, and you’re across the street from a courthouse, and you see a judge walking through the parking lot to his car, and you shout out “Look! There’s a judge! We should kill him where he stands! There’s more of us than there is of him – we can kill him before he even gets to the door!” -- *that* is unprotected speech. (You could try to argue that you were still talking smack, and that you didn’t intend to have anybody killed, but I wouldn’t want to be the lawyer who has to convince a jury of your intentions.) If you intended to drive the crowd across the street to kill the judge, if you knew that the crowd would likely react to your words by running across the street to kill the judge, and you knew that they would kill him before law enforcement would have time to intervene, then you have met the Court’s definition of incitement, and the First Amendment will not protect you. As of 2009, Brandenburg is still good law, and the imminent lawless action test is still the test the Court uses.

This isn’t to say that the test won’t evolve, or narrow, or broaden. The Court used to use a much broader test, the clear and present danger test, stemming from a unanimous 1919 decision (Schenck v. U.S) addressing the government’s ability to regulate anti-draft speech during World War I. (“The question…is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that the United States Congress has a right to prevent.”) It further broadened this standard 10 years later (Whitney v. California) by employing the “bad tendency” test, under which the government may punish “…utterances inimical to the public welfare, tending to incite crime, disturb the public peace, or endanger the foundations of organized government and threaten its overthrow."

It’s entirely possible – in fact, probable – that if a person were convicted for wearing a Psalm 109:8 t-shirt, the Supreme Court would uphold his conviction under the clear and present danger test or the bad tendency test. But Schenck and Whitney were both overruled by Brandenburg, and I just don’t think that these shirts would pass the Brandenburg test for unprotected speech. Of course, one can -- and many do -- argue that the internet and 24-hour news cycles have made the dissemination of hate speech efficient in a way that it just wasn’t in 1969, and that the Brandenburg test needs to be modified to reflect the current realities of society. Until the Court sets a new standard, though, this is the standard we have.
posted by bakerina at 6:51 PM on November 22, 2009 [6 favorites]


Well which is it you want it short and sweet or do you prefer the long version?

Really, there's no pleasing some people.


B-, needs more impotent angst
posted by kathrineg at 6:57 PM on November 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yes, what bakerina said. There have been no lack of documents that prophesied or called for the violent or otherwise demise of our current system of government with varying degrees of seriousness: The Turner Diaries, The Communist Manifesto, The SCUM Manifesto, etc., etc..

nola: The threat is an environment ...

Well yes, that's always the threat when liberties get the hammer. Bigots call for an attack on the practice of Islam in the United States because they say it creates an environment where terrorism attacks like Fort Bragg can happen. Critics call for labeling and regulation of music and games because they create an environment of criminal sexual activity and violence. The U.S. government investigated and suppressed labor and socialist publications because they feared an environment where a soviet revolution might happen. The arguments were pretty much the same. Yeah, sure, most people won't do anything but one might.

So we end up with entire legal systems and industries bent towards the worship of the "American Way" out of fear of one Rosenberg, one Haymarket, one Columbine, one Fort Bragg.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:54 PM on November 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, sure, most people won't do anything but one might.

Except that we're past the point where one might act, where, instead, several have already acted.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:00 PM on November 22, 2009


Blazecock: Certainly. There has always been violent political dissent in the United States. The fear is not unreasonable, until you consider the fundamental costs that must be paid when you give legal systems the power to attack words. The reality of a communist threat did not make the suppressive actions of the government, or the reflexive self-censorship of the entertainment or publishing industries less noxious.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:17 PM on November 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah I'm sorry KirkJobSluder but your overview is facile given the case history of people killing or trying to kill for the purpose of rightwing idiology in the US of A. To make a list of the last 20 years of rightwing violence would be unnecessary for anyone who has kept up with current news.

Example: Holocaust Museum Shooting, Shawna Forde, Jason Bush, Unitarian Universalist Church just a stones through from where I push my daughter on a swing god damnit, and George Tiller. All recent and not comprehensive. Honorable mention:
Timothy James McVeigh may he rot in hell for this
posted by nola at 8:32 PM on November 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Its real easy to talk about some shit when it hasn't been your babies blood shed for people to stupid and cruel to give a shit. Fuck that noise we should be asking them to explain what the fuck they mean and what the fuck they're after.
posted by nola at 8:35 PM on November 22, 2009


nola: Please, my hometown was one of the ones targeted by Benjamin Smith. And I still feel that White Supremacists have a constitutional right to bring their hatred to the public, where it can be mocked and criticized.

Fuck that noise we should be asking them to explain what the fuck they mean and what the fuck they're after.

By all means, this is exactly why we have an ideal of freedom of speech.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:45 PM on November 22, 2009


I'm probably just a bit more worried in general these days because of my child. I see trouble differently then I did when I was 25 when I had only me to look after. Growing up in a rightwing fundamentalist christian household I understand what the maker of this Tshirt is really saying and seeing that was one of those 'OMG THIS SHIT IS GETTING TO REAL' moments.

I think you're right to worry, but I think you have the wrong fears.

President Obama is possibly the safest man on the planet. The Secret Service has weathered a quiet century against every trained, moneyed hitman of every manifesto, every playbook; so I think they have a little spot on that shelf where the dead weight of Coulter's Godless kisses a slender Catcher in the Rye. They're not stupid.

The irony here is that you cannot bury a public life in bodyguards and behind pope-o-matic plastic shells. One's public image is wounded in proportion to its fame, soundbitten and dissected by infinite eyes and copies of Final Cut. And the purity of one's politics is always diluted by scale, the firebrand cooling to some lukewarm after the first thousand handshakes or two. Being the world's most famous politician, then, Obama has all the problems of the celebrity and the senator. He speaks a hail mary of big ideas that are almost infinitely frail. They'll be written down, and then they will be distorted beyond belief by AM spin, tangled with rumors in cyberspace, disbelieved without basis, believed without basis, and sent to subcommittees where they are torpedoed by his own party, or lobbied down, or let slip by an electorate without a memory for yesterday's goal.

If you have to worry, and you're not trained (and paid) to worry and to one day catch a bullet with your heart, if need be, then for your own sake worry about the integrity of his ideas.
posted by kid ichorous at 8:51 PM on November 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure what you just said kid ichorous (because I'm barely literate) but it sure was lovely wordsmithing. I say that without the slightest bit of cheeseburger.
posted by nola at 9:10 PM on November 22, 2009


By all means, this is exactly why we have an ideal of freedom of speech.


You don't mind if I read that with a sultry Savannah drawl, do you?
posted by nola at 9:13 PM on November 22, 2009


Also, I'm not saying anything against freedom of speech. I've said that more than a few times in this thread. What I am saying is that any of us would be daft if we couldn't see that the right isn't kidding around when it comes to speaking about violence. That's all. I'm not saying we should lock people up for speaking their mind. I'm saying we should start taking them at their word at least.
posted by nola at 9:16 PM on November 22, 2009


Dude, I'm just talking ragtime like motherfucking Scott Joplin. Point is, nothing bad is going to happen to Obama except for the preternatural aging that afflicts all replicants presidents.
posted by kid ichorous at 9:29 PM on November 22, 2009


Well it was some lovely shit just the same. I may ask you to speak at my funeral if ColdChef isn't to busy/expensive.
posted by nola at 9:35 PM on November 22, 2009


The reality of a communist threat did not make the suppressive actions of the government, or the reflexive self-censorship of the entertainment or publishing industries less noxious.

It is now well understood that the "communist threat", as such, was almost entirely an invention of cold war profiteers.

So far as we all know, the "communist threat" of the 1950s to which you are referring, as such, did not advertise a campaign of violent insurrection via radio stations, book tours, t-shirts, billboards and the FOX News network. This "communist threat", as such, did not murder children at daycare centers, doctors in women's health clinics, African-Americans, Jews and Unitarians, and Census takers with the goal to usurp laws and overthrow the government.

In other words, respectfully, your analogy is established on a false equivalence between the effects of censoring the "communist threat" and the effects of prosecuting sedition and treason by violent right-wing extremists. It is only one of many instances of false equivalence in this thread, but it is false, all the same.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:30 AM on November 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


nola: You don't mind if I read that with a sultry Savannah drawl, do you?

If it's ironic and predicated on a complete lack of understanding of the history referenced in this thread.

Blazecock Pileon: So far as we all know, the "communist threat" of the 1950s to which you are referring,

Except that I'm fairly obviously talking about the first red scare as well, you know, the one in which publishers were required to submit English-language drafts prior to publication in order to retain bulk mailing privileges. This included the arrest of Eugene Debs, an event that actually did trigger violent protests. Of course, I also referenced the Haymarket affair as well, which was the inspiration for Weatherman bombings in the '60s.

The equivalence is established when you want to expand the scope of the law from actually plotting criminal action to t-shirts and billboards. It's established when you argue for throwing Brandenburg. And that's not a step we should be taking.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:56 AM on November 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


You are absolutely ridiculous and I think I'm done talking to you.

Is that a promise?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:31 AM on November 23, 2009


harumph. They let this shirt on, but refused to reconsider my shirt of christ blown on the cross.
posted by nomisxid at 11:44 AM on November 23, 2009


At the risk of stirring up shit just when things have quieted down...upon rereading my previous comment, I see an awful lot of equivocating on my part. (Thanks, law school.) For all my talk of the Brandenburg test being a flawed standard, I still think it's a more Constitutionally sound standard than either the clear and present danger test or the bad tendency test. The bad tendency test is particularly broad, and gives the government latitude to convict people on the flimsiest of pretexts.

I think that the people behind the shirts, and the billboard, are hateful. I find their sway over the dim and thoughtless to be frightening. Every time another WILL WE EVEN HAVE A COUNTRY LEFT BY 2012? email hits my in-box, I want to write a check to the Buy the Secret Service Another Sniper Fund. If there are groups out there who have both the means and the desire to try to take out the President, I want the FBI all over their asses, and I want them to hear "conspiracy" and "guilty" so much that they can't hear anything else, kind of like John Malkovich in Being John Malkovich. But until somebody creates a t-shirt or a billboard so potent that it can drive someone to kill before the cops even have time to look up, that t-shirt is still speech, not action. I want a shrinkwrapped Costco pallet of whoopass opened on action. I don't want it opened on speech.

On preview: Usually I try not to let the Supreme Court do my rhetorical heavy lifting for me, but I think Harlan got it right in Cohen v. California:

[The issue] is whether California can excise, as "offensive conduct," one particular scurrilous epithet from the public discourse, either upon the theory of the court below that its use is inherently likely to cause violent reaction or upon a more general assertion that the States, acting as guardians of public morality, may properly remove this offensive word from the public vocabulary.

The rationale of the California court is plainly untenable. At most, it reflects an "undifferentiated fear or apprehension of disturbance [which] is not enough to overcome the right to freedom of expression"...We have been shown no evidence that substantial numbers of citizens are standing ready to strike out physically at whoever may assault their sensibilities with execrations like that uttered by Cohen. There may be some persons about with such lawless and violent proclivities, but that is an insufficient base upon which to erect, consistently with constitutional values, a governmental power to force persons who wish to ventilate their dissident views into avoiding particular forms of expression.

posted by bakerina at 11:27 AM on November 24, 2009


Bakerina not good enough. It's not enough to despise the speech and the ideology. You need to light your hair on fire, brandish a pitch fork, and demand on the Interwebs somebody, somewhere, be immediately deported.

Conveniently that's all you need to do. Demand. Join the interweb mob and feel the OUTRAGE. Actual real-world actions not necessary.

So. Don't get all weak-knee "Apologist" on us now.
posted by tkchrist at 1:57 PM on November 24, 2009


Congratulations. You are not only an apologist for right-wing terrorism, tkchrist, you are a shrill, tedious and tkchrist-grade-annoying right-wing apologist.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:43 PM on November 24, 2009


Say terrorism one more time, I don't think we got the message yet

You sound just like post-9/11 Bush, good job
posted by kathrineg at 11:54 PM on November 24, 2009


Yes, yes. Love of civil liberties as apologia for terriorism. Where have we heard this before.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:44 AM on November 25, 2009


You are not only an apologist for right-wing terrorism, tkchrist, you are a shrill, tedious and tkchrist-grade-annoying right-wing apologist.

So -- if I like what people are saying, it's "free expression," but if I don't like what they're saying, it's "terrorism?"


Just trying to get the definitions straight here. Because my dictionary says something different.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:03 AM on November 25, 2009


In related news -- Dana Perino: 'We Did Not Have A Terrorist Attack On Our Country During President Bush's Term'.
posted by ericb at 7:59 AM on November 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Nor were we invaded by creatures from Mars.
posted by caddis at 8:16 AM on November 25, 2009


Dana Perino: "We Did Not Have A Terrorist Attack On Our Country During President Bush's Term."

I am an asshole if I point out that this statement is incorrect? I don't remember if you're allowed to do that anymore because it's "mean."
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:20 AM on November 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Love of civil liberties as apologia for terriorism.

At risk of earning more wrath from Metafilter's denizens, right-wing terrorists are dead-set on taking away our civil liberties through violent actions intended to usurp a democratically-elected government. Leaving aside the fact that commercial speech is not protected, calling for these people to answer to the law for a pattern of threatening behavior should not be considered an attack on civil liberties, but a defense of them. A teabagger bringing a gun to a political meeting, wearing a 109:8 shirt or buying a billboard ad calling for violent rebellion is not an endorsement of free speech ideals.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:58 AM on November 25, 2009


Blazecock Pileon: At risk of earning more wrath from Metafilter's denizens, right-wing terrorists are dead-set on taking away our civil liberties through violent actions intended to usurp a democratically-elected government.

Christopher Hitchins: Islamic terrorists are dead-set on taking away our civil liberties through violent actions intended to usurp a democratically-elected government.

So tell me, exactly how is your argument for undermining one of the basic principles of that democracy different from Hitchins's argument that the threat posed by Islamic extremists justifies torture? (He hasn't to my knowledge backed away from that position, only admitted that the revelation of torture ultimately benefitted those extremists.)

You are proposing a legal overthrow of Brandenburg. How dare you. How dare you sit there and claim to be a champion of civil liberties while openly saying they should be discarded in the name of a vague safety? That certainly is a position to take, but honestly claim it and quit the bullshit that you are the only patriot in the room, when in fact, you've spent the entire thread promulgating nothing but sedition and treason against the Constitution.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:19 AM on November 25, 2009


your argument for undermining one of the basic principles of that democracy

This part of your comment is such utter nonsense. Violence has never been protected speech, and violence undermines democracy by enforcing the rule of — as of late — right-wing thugs.

in the name of a vague safety

We're past the point of vagueness to the point of the right-wing presenting a very clear and very real threat not only to the Constitution, but to the civil rights we both enjoy.

quit the bullshit that you are the only patriot in the room

You would defend the "right" of these terrorists to destroy the Constitution by couching their actions entirely as speech. Not only does this right not even exist, but it is a frankly dishonest description of the state of things. How dare you sit there and pretend that you're a champion of civil liberties, while openly holding the Constitution and our shared freedoms in such contempt as to disregard any notion of protecting them from mob violence?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:09 AM on November 25, 2009


Violence has never been protected speech, and violence undermines democracy by enforcing the rule of — as of late — right-wing thugs.

....So you're actually saying that WEARING A T-SHIRT is an act of VIOLENCE?

What about putting on your pants, do you call that sexual assault?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:48 AM on November 25, 2009


Please don't feed the troll.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:09 AM on November 25, 2009


Don't worry, I won't.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:14 AM on November 25, 2009


don't fight <('_' )>
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:24 AM on November 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Please don't feed the troll.

Eh, I'll go make an anti-troll t-shirt, maybe he'll magically get a nosebleed or something.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:21 PM on November 25, 2009


don't fight <>

That's one of those puppy-kitten hybrids that doesn't grow up but stays cute forever, isn't it? Those are delicious when roasted!
posted by Burhanistan at 3:23 PM on November 25, 2009


Blazecock (and Pope Guilty and nola and any others who stand on the other side of this issue from where I stand), I promise that I am neither trolling, nor spoiling for a fight, nor trying to play the home game version of I Love the Constitution More Than You Do (Neener Neener Neener edition). I'm honestly interested in a conversation here, without throwing grenades of rhetoric around.

Leaving aside the fact that commercial speech is not protected...

Respectfully, I disagree. Commercial speech is a less protected form of speech than political or religious speech, but it is still protected. Before 1976, the Supreme Court assumed that most types of commercial speech fell outside the First Amendment, but in 1976, the Court held in Virginia Pharmacy Board v. Virginia Citizens Consumer Council that "the notion of unprotected 'commercial speech' [has] all but passed from the scene" and that such speech could be restricted only if the restrictions are "justified without reference to the content of the regulated speech, that they serve a significant governmental interest, and that in doing so they leave open ample alternative channels for communication of the government." The Court refined this test further in 1980 in Central Hudson Gas v. Public Service Commission, creating a four-part test that is still used today to determine whether a law that restricts certain forms of commercial speech is constitutional.

A teabagger bringing a gun to a political meeting, wearing a 109:8 shirt or buying a billboard ad calling for violent rebellion is not an endorsement of free speech ideals.

Totally with you on the gun. I'm still gobsmacked that those fools didn't get their asses hauled off to jail for stunts like that. And I'm also with you that wearing a 109:8 shirt and buying a billboard ad calling for violent rebellion are not endorsements of free speech ideals. *But* supporting the right to wear a 109:8 shirt and to buy a billboard ad calling for violent rebellion is an endorsement of free speech ideals. Even if the speech in question comes right out and says "When our People's Militia takes over the country, there will be no civil rights for people we hate," -- as long as it's on a t-shirt, or a billboard, or a coffee mug, or hell, even coming out of Lou Dobbs's mouth -- it's still political speech, and it's still protected. The only speech that is not protected is incitement (determined by the Brandenburg standard, as well as the "shouting fire in a crowded theatre" panic scenario in Schenck); fighting words (words that are aimed at a listener, and designed to provoke a violent reaction in the listener; while, many people have been convicted under "fighting words" laws, the Supreme Court hasn't upheld such a conviction since 1942); and obscenity (which is why there's so much handwringing over exactly what the standard for obscenity is).

And yes, even violent speech is protected. Brandenburg itself overturned a criminal syndicalism conviction against the Ku Klux Klan. Cross burning has been found to be an odious, yet still protected, form of speech. So has flag burning, which some people (not necessarily I) find to be an incredibly violent act of aggression against the government. But again, unless it drives people to imminent action, it's not unprotected.

I'm sorry to keep pulling out long excerpts from Supreme Court cases, but I'm afraid I'll cheapen the force of the Justices' words if I try to encapsulate. Here's Justice Stevens, writing for the Court in NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co., regarding both speech and violent action surrounding a 1966 boycott of white-owned businesses in Mississippi. Specifically, he references a speech given by Charles Evers, the NAACP Field Secretary, in which he renews calls for the boycott and tells the assembled crowd, "If we catch you going into them racist businesses, we're going to break your damn necks":

There are three separate theories that might justify holding Evers liable for the unlawful conduct of others. First, a finding that he authorized, directed, or ratified specific tortious activity would justify holding him responsible for the consequences of that activity. Second, a finding that his public speeches were likely to incite lawless action could justify holding him liable for unlawful conduct that in fact followed within a reasonable period. Third, the speeches might be taken as evidence that Evers gave other specific instructions to carry out violent acts or threats.

While many of the comments in Evers' speeches might have contemplated "discipline" in the permissible form of social ostracism, it cannot be denied that references to the possibility that necks would be broken and to the fact that the Sheriff could not sleep with boycott violators at night implicitly conveyed a sterner message. In the passionate atmosphere in which the speeches were delivered, they might have been understood as inviting an unlawful form of discipline or, at least, as intending to create a fear of violence whether or not improper discipline was specifically intended.

It is clear that "fighting words" -- those that provoke immediate violence -- are not protected by the First Amendment. Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 315 U. S. 568, 315 U. S. 572. Similarly, words that create an immediate panic are not entitled to constitutional protection. Schenck v. United States, 249 U. S. 47. [Footnote 70] This Court has made clear, however, that mere advocacy of the use of force or violence does not remove speech from the protection of the First Amendment. In Brandenburg v. Ohio...we reversed the conviction of a Ku Klux Klan leader for threatening "revengeance" if the "suppression" of the white race continued; we relied on "the principle that the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action." Id. at 395 U. S. 447. See Noto v. United States, 367 U.S. at 367 U. S. 297-298 ("the mere abstract teaching . . . of the moral propriety or even moral necessity for a resort to force and violence is not the same as preparing a group for violent action and steeling it to such action"). See also Whitney v. California, 274 U. S. 357, 274 U. S. 372 (Brandeis, J., concurring).

The emotionally charged rhetoric of Charles Evers' speeches did not transcend the bounds of protected speech set forth in Brandenburg. The lengthy addresses generally contained an impassioned plea for black citizens to unify, to support and respect each other, and to realize the political and economic power available to them. In the course of those pleas, strong language was used. If that language had been followed by acts of violence, a substantial question would be presented whether Evers could be held liable for the consequences of that unlawful conduct. In this case, however...the acts of violence identified in 1966 occurred weeks or months after the April 1, 1966, speech; the chancellor made no finding of any violence after the challenged 1969 speech. Strong and effective extemporaneous rhetoric cannot be nicely channeled in purely dulcet phrases. An advocate must be free to stimulate his audience with spontaneous and emotional appeals for unity and action in a common cause. When such appeals do not incite lawless action, they must be regarded as protected speech. To rule otherwise would ignore the "profound national commitment" that "debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open." New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. at 376 U. S. 270.

posted by bakerina at 4:50 PM on November 25, 2009 [5 favorites]


A teabagger bringing a gun to a political meeting, wearing a 109:8 shirt or buying a billboard ad calling for violent rebellion is not an endorsement of free speech ideals.

One of these things is not like the other. One of them is different, can you tell? If you can tell which one is not like the other, I will tell you if you are wrong.

Go BP go! You are our last great patriotic martyr!

Hey. BTW. Have you called a single attorney generals office or even a constitutional law scholar on this one yet?

I Did. I'll give you three guess what they said.
posted by tkchrist at 6:19 PM on November 25, 2009


Don't worry, I won't.

Oh my god, He's starving himself!
posted by tkchrist at 6:20 PM on November 25, 2009


This part of your comment is such utter nonsense. Violence has never been protected speech, and violence undermines democracy by enforcing the rule of — as of late — right-wing thugs.

A bible quotation on a t-shirt is, under no reasonable definition of the term, violence.

You would defend the "right" of these terrorists to destroy the Constitution by couching their actions entirely as speech.

When the action we are talking about is a bible quotation on a t-shirt, then yes, it falls well within the penumbra of protection that we consider political speech. In regards to the Constitution, I'm not the one seeking to limit the First Amendment in this case.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:45 PM on November 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


@tkchrist: Okay, I'll bite. With whom did you speak, and what did he/she/they say?

Asked in a spirit of genuine curiosity, and not because I have a Con Law final next week, on which a metric buttload of First Amendment questions will be discussed. Not at all.

Not much, anyway.

posted by bakerina at 3:08 PM on November 27, 2009


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