By Bob Bennett
Three high government officials have, in effect, told Black people to look at America through the eyes of Emmett Till’s mother. They have repeatedly asserted that the same vicious racism lives on today—in the police.
I’m not an attorney, so please don’t mistake my opinions for legal opinions, or an accusation against anyone, of criminality.
Here are three examples among many similar statements made by the officials. Many others are a matter of record:
CBS News, March 23, 2012: “You know, if I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” —President Obama
Los Angeles Times, July 16, 2013: from Speech before the NAACP, on what his father taught him “…what to say and how to conduct myself if I was ever stopped or confronted in a way I thought was unwarranted…”—AG Eric Holder
ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, December 7, 2014: “…with Dante, very early on with my son, we said, look, if a police officer stops you, do everything he tells you to do, don’t move suddenly, don’t reach for your cell phone, because we knew, sadly, there’s a greater chance it might be misinterpreted if it was a young man of color.”—Mayor de Blasio
Under 18 USCS § 2384 in relevant part, Seditious Conspiracy is:
“If two or more persons in any State or Territory conspire by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States,…they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.” [Emphasis mine]
Convictions for sedition have been rare. The most recent was in 1995, when the “Blind Sheik,” Omar Abdel Rahman, and nine followers were convicted of seditious conspiracy. But what these three officials have done is more than rare, it’s unprecedented.
The First Amendment does not protect the boundless right to criticize or protest the authorities; there are limitations, notably speech that promotes crime. Constitutional protection of speech is essential to a democracy. But ensuring domestic tranquility is a constitutional obligation of government. So we must draw a line somewhere, between speech that is protected and speech that incites crime.
The present line was drawn by Brandenburg v. Ohio 1969, when SCOTUS held that (1) speech can be prohibited if it is “directed at inciting or producing imminent lawless action” and (2) it is “likely to incite or produce such action.”
The key elements in Brandenburg are: intent, imminence and likelihood. Here’s an easy example of speech that (in my lay opinion) would not be constitutionally protected: A mob in New York chants “What do we want? Dead Cops! When do we want it? Now!” A video of that is shown many times on TV. Two New York cops are murdered less than a week later.
That speech seems clearly over the line, and not, therefore, protected speech: it was intended to incite an imminent crime, and was likely to produce a crime. In fact, a double murder swiftly ensued.
To begin with, does the First Amendment protect the speech by the three officials?
President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and Mayor de Blasio, over a period of months, even years, made pointed statements, over and over, strongly implying that police are racist and prone to shoot young, unarmed Blacks.
Let’s take the second test first: were the words used likely to incite or produce a criminal act?
The context of the speech is key. The highest elected official in the land—who happens to be Black, the Nation’s highest law-enforcement officer, also Black, and the Mayor of its largest city, whose wife is Black, all imply that police are racist. Their own racial linkage raises “implying” to the level of “declaring,” if the audience is Black.
In addition, they all questioned the integrity of the grand jury system in racial situations. The surefire message to Black America is: “The White-controlled system is rigged against you; if cops murder a Black youth, he will not be held to account, for a reason you cannot overcome: your skin color.”
Unquestionably, Black Americans are exquisitely sensitive to any hint of racism. Many are likely to react, at the very least, by resisting police instructions. That resistance would be a criminal act. They would be incited to resist the police the very next time they interacted with a police officer. And that’s apt be soon, given that many Blacks live in a high-crime area, requiring high police presence and many interactions with residents.
Therefore, imminent lawless action is likely to be produced.
These three officials are intimately familiar with the emotions of Black people, because two are Black and one is married to a Black woman. Thus, they are undeniably aware that Blacks would have an immediate emotional reaction to this race-baiting speech:
Therefore, the incitement was intended.
Hence, the speech of these three officials should not protected under the First Amendment.
Recall that 18 USCS § 2384, the Seditious Conspiracy law, says: “…by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law.” If the speech incites resistance to police, that resistance will be physical—by definition, that is force preventing or delaying execution of a law.
The nationwide anti-police protests by leftist groups, often feature violence against the police who are trying to control them, in accordance with law. That clearly is force used to prevent or hinder execution of a law.
These protests may seem spontaneous to those whose acuity is dismal, but to all others they are unmistakably organized. And they are linked to all three speakers by one element: Al Sharpton, King of Street Theater, the admitted organizer.
That linkage indicates a conspiracy, as does the public support for the protests shown by all three. It is also supported by the most unusual event of three high officials, all asserting that police are racist, and a hazard to Black youth. All even personalized the alleged racism, in the same way: concern for the lives and safety of one’s sons.
Bob Bennett is a New York-based writer who wrote a featured op-ed for the Wall Street Journal on health care reform, was interviewed with his wife on Fox and Friends and America’s Newsroom about the same topic. He has traveled widely and authored travel articles and an opinion piece for the NY Post; wrote a cover story for the Jewish Press, and an opinion piece for the medical journal Cancer Biotherapy & Radioimmunotherapy. Bob was also the award-winning producer of a travel radio show that was heard on New York stations: WMCA, WNWK and 50,000 watt WOR. Produced a live game show, giving away thousands of dollars’ worth of prizes on cable TV in Manhattan. He now blogs on Tea Party Nation, Tea Party Community and Red State Diaries.