If a person cannot see how utterly un-American this is, I don’t know what to say. We have a Bill of Rights for a reason.
Louisiana Rep. Clay Higgins, an embarrassment to all things American and Christian, had this to say on Facebook Saturday by way of his ongoing campaign account, rather than from his official account [my emphasis in bold]:
The free world… all of Christendom… is at war with Islamic horror. Not one penny of American treasure should be granted to any nation who harbors these heathen animals. Not a single radicalized Islamic suspect should be granted any measure of quarter. Their intended entry to the American homeland should be summarily denied. Every conceivable measure should be engaged to hunt them down. Hunt them, identify them, and kill them. Kill them all. For the sake of all that is good and righteous. Kill them all.
-Captain Clay Higgins
Just in case we have some readers who heard “trains” instead of “brains” when the brains were handed out, and by golly I hope we do, from Merriam-Webster, an antecedent is:
a substantive word, phrase, or clause whose denotation is referred to by a pronoun (such as John in “Mary saw John and called to him”); broadly : a word or phrase replaced by a substitute
The antecedent of “Their,” “them,” “them,” “them,” “them,” and “them” in the above verbatim quote, right down to the poorly executed ellipses, is suspect.
Therein lies the substance of the first of two significant points of concern with this U. S. Representative’s choice of words.
If a person cannot see how utterly un-American this is, I don’t know what to say. We have a Bill of Rights for a reason. Being a suspect, his words, not mine, suspect is not grounds for any individual to summarily execute another person. Suspect. That is not how we do things.
For that matter, the government, like it or not, has a monopoly on the legitimate use of deadly force. This is not American.
People don’t get to just go off on their own, suspect someone of something for “reasons” (having nothing even remotely to do with a grotesque degree of bigotry at all, of course), and just kill them. Just no. This is not American.
And I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that the vast majority of people who actually think this walking abomination is right consider themselves Christian. Find me a quote in the red letters showing me Jesus would be okay with this, one that I can’t refute with something else Jesus said that takes obvious priority.
What is the greatest commandment, he was asked. To love God with all one’s heart and soul and to love your neighbor as yourself. He gave two for one. If you do those two things, it’s kind of hard to get anything else wrong. If in doubt about one of the other things he says, all one has to do is see how it squares with the two most important commandments. If you can’t do it while doing those two things at the same time, you’re doing it wrong.
If a person is legitimately suspected of a crime, any crime, there’s a way to handle that. Refer it to the appropriate authorities. Note, I didn’t say a thing about a crime during its commission. Call that in, too, but we’re talking about Higgins’ words, not mine, suspected of a crime. A suspect gets called in so that our system of justice can deal with the suspect as justly as possible.
Things that don’t make a person a suspect:
- Talks funny
- Dresses weird
- Believes differently from you
Now, I’ll grant this much. There’s a difference between a person looking suspicious and being a suspect. Know what you do with suspicious looking people? Call it in. If you’re bold, keep a constant eye on the suspicious person while waiting for authorized personnel to come do their jobs accountably. It’s just common sense.
Things that are not suspicious: people doing normal people things like walking down sidewalks. If it wouldn’t look weird for someone like you do to it, it doesn’t look weird for them to do it.
But common sense also obviously says that if you’re a local in an area like St. Landry Parish (rural anywhere will do), and you’ve got a pretty damned good idea that everyone in a 50 mile radius is whiter than mayo, with only a few exceptions, and you ain’t never seen anyone with a turban in your neck of the woods before, if you see someone fitting that description walking past and checking out something like a power substation, maybe you’d be onto something. Call it in. Friends on the left can be upset or not, but that’s just common sense to me. But be prepared for the possibility that there’s nothing weird going on at all. For all anyone knows, the power company sent a couple engineers out, and that’s just two engineers doing their damned jobs.
People just need to use their noodles is all.
So, what we have here in this utterly anti-American, anti-Christian statement is, as I read it, speech incitatory of violence. If only that weren’t so problematic. In Brandenburg v. Ohio, the Supreme Court ruled:
Freedoms of speech and press do not permit a State to forbid 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.
Part of me wishes it were simpler than that, but I’m glad of SCOTUS’ caution regarding free speech. On the other hand, I don’t know that it needs to be any simpler.
SCOTUS: “…except where such advocacy…”
Higgins: “Every conceivable measure should be engaged to hunt them down. Hunt them, identify them, and kill them. Kill them all. For the sake of all that is good and righteous. Kill them all.”
There’s your “such advocacy.”
SCOTUS: “is directed to inciting or producing.”
Fundamental grammar review time! There are four types of sentence. What are they? Declarative. Interrogative. Exclamatory. Imperative.
Which type of statements did Higgins make?
Seems to me that such statements are indeed directed to inciting or producing.
Merriam-Webster: ready to take place; especially : hanging threateningly over one’s head was in imminent danger of being run over
The command statements were made, as command statements are, in the present tense. Now. The comment was posted on Saturday. It remains as of this writing. Here’s a screenshot.
He hasn’t changed his mind. His spokesdemon doubles down on it. The command stands. He remains then, as stating, presently, a command to, in the present tense, hunt down and kill suspects. Do it. He didn’t say pencil it in for later. Do it.
SCOTUS: “Lawless action”
Do I even need to make the case that a private person commits a lawless action when they shoot a suspect with, as commanded, the intent to kill?
SCOTUS: “likely to incite or produce such action”
And here is the second significant point of concern, which I leave to Dear Reader to decide for themselves. From what you know of current events, would a reasonable person believe Higgins’ command is likely to incite or produce murder of a suspect by some un-American, anti-Christian goon with a broken moral compass?
If yes, this is what I want to know, and what I do not know. Where was Higgins when he posted this command statement likely to incite murder of suspects?
See, if he was comfortably back in Louisiana, I suspect there’s about a zero chance in hell of lawful authorities pressing the appropriate charges against him for breaking whichever Louisiana statute governs speech inciting violence.
What if he were in his DC office at the time? Or some other place in DC, Maryland, or Virginia, which are all conveniently possible from the DC area? Given that his professional, official office is in the District of Columbia, I cannot rule out the possibility that such statement was made in that jurisdiction. It may be an appropriate complaint for federal authorities, I’m not sure. Or maybe it’s properly the jurisdiction of the District of Columbia Police Department. I’m having a difficult time sorting that out.
According to Wikipedia on the District’s home rule, the US Congress has exclusive authority over the district. Given the Congress we have now, there’s precious little hope that, if they’re the source of authority to charge Higgins appropriately, I won’t hold my breath, any more than I would waiting for Louisiana to do the right thing were it to have happened there.
But is it the US Attorney for the District of Columbia? If so, Channing D. Phillips, appointed by President Obama, would be the right authority to turn to.
Or is it the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department?
I do not know. I am not an attorney and cannot advise. But I think that if one agrees with me that Higgins’ speech constitutes speech incitatory to likely imminent lawless behavior, one might wish to avail themselves of email and or phone to contact some of the possible authorities who may have jurisdiction in such matters.
At the very least, one of them should at least investigate the whereabouts of Rep. Higgins when he made his misbegotten Facebook post, so we’ll know if those with the jurisdiction are dutifully executing their responsibility to the law.