“He didn’t threaten anybody. He opined.”

When Hal Turner was led away to jail for writing that three judges who had upheld the Chicago gun ban (which has since been overturned at SCOTUS) “deserved to be killed”–and provided maps to help his readers find the judges–his son insisted Turner didn’t threaten anybody, he opined.

But the third jury that ruled on charges that he threatened to assault and kill judges in retaliation for performing their official duties (the first two juries deadlocked) didn’t see it that way. After two hours of deliberation, they found him guilty.

As luck would have it, this country’s fearmongerers and bigots are rather busy sowing fear of Muslims right now, or there might have been a bigger response to this. But particularly given the delay through three trials, this verdict seems almost curious. Turner got sent to jail for behavior that is becoming increasingly acceptable of late. After all, more than one candidate for Congress has implicitly threatened violence as part of their campaign (though I wonder whether Sharon Angle and Ben Quayle are smart enough to draw maps, as Turner did). Yet much of the the press seems hesitant to call out that rhetoric as beyond the pale.

Hal Turner did step over the line (though I think it’s a close call legally). But just as big a problem is the media circus that allows someone like Turner to thrive, include the so-called objective media that apparently has a difficult time discerning between the violent rhetoric from right wing activists and policy arguments advanced through legislative means of lefty activists.

  1. ADC14 says:

    Emptywheel, are you here in Ann Arbor? Would like to give you one of om Obama World “Cat Food” Tees.

    • emptywheel says:

      I’m not in People’s Republic at the moment. I’m in the process of moving to W MI, so I’m splitting time between the two. I get back in town on Friday.

      • ADC14 says:

        email me at [email protected] when you get back and I’ll give you a shirt. W. MI Brave soul. I have a cottage in Holland. For the longest time I was the only
        brown spot on the private beach there. Thankfully, things are becoming a little more colorful.

        • emptywheel says:

          Yeah, thereabouts in W MI. Though I think I might be safer moving just south of there, w/all the artists and teh gays. And yes, I have noticed it’s rather blindingly light out here.

          You’ll have to tell me where the more interesting spots are out here.

  2. scribe says:

    EW – you are omitting, as are press accounts of this latest trial, the fact that Turner was a long-term paid informant of (and controlled by) the FBI, and his bailiwick was providing a fertilized bed for the really dangerous wingnuts to germinate and pop up their heads so he could, in turn, turn them in to the FBI and facilitate preventitive action by the FBI.

    Indeed, this charge only came about after his identity as an informant/provocateur came out in the open.

    Further, after two mistrials in the federal court in New Jersey (3d Circuit), the government got the trial moved to Brooklyn (2d circuit) where they promptly got a better jury pool and probably a set of First Amendment precedent more amenable to their case than had obtained in the 3d. No accident they got a conviction this time – I don’t recall there being any mention of his informant status in the trial this time.

    As to Angle and her Second Amendment Remedies and Ben Quayle and his violence, remember that it’s only hippies (and, here, blown snitches) who get prosecuted for threatening people. Wingnuts get a pass because their crazy facilitates Obama and the government moving the Overton window of the Democratic party further and further right, so much so that Eisenhower’s policies are now beyond-the-pale liberal.

    Turner’s case was a close one on the law, but I’ll bet judicial solidarity in the 2d Circuit (remember what Mukasey got away with – post 9/11 validating torture in the MCCC with “you don’t look so bad”) will ensure that Turner goes away for the full term.

    • Mary says:

      The Abramoff fizzle and bust.

      I will say this – Cullen is a very good lawyer. Better than Delay deserved. The real problem has been how they let the whole Abramoff situation (and Cunningham too, for that matter) fizzles to nothing.

      But Obamaco isn’t going to want to dwell on financial crap like money laundering and cover ups on campaign contributions going into some tough Dem election times.

      @8 – they really go the extra mile for their informants. Donald Vance comes to mind.

      Be interesting as well to see what happens when the Blago jury finally calls it quits.

      So much torture and massive criminality to not investigate – I wonder what the next distraction that DOJ tosses out will be.

      • bmaz says:

        Yeah, they had Abramoff and Scanlon both with their tits in the cooperation wringer, but just couldn’t get anything on DeLay and Reed. What a crock.

  3. Mary says:

    BTW and speaking of failed US institutions, I wonder what Karzai’s take will end up being after his threats to toss contractors over the next 4 mos. $eem$ like he’$ looking for $omething $pecific.

    • fatster says:

      Not only that, but Gates is saying he will/might retire in early 2011. Very interesting. (And, no, I don’t even want to think about who Obamarahma might appointment for replacement.)

      • Mary says:

        Given the Presidents he’s worked for and the guy who filled the seat before him, Gates has been as good as anybody I can think of for the seat, but that timing really seems pretty political, doesn’t it? Obama’s Republicans, helping him drill the holes in the ship, then leaving him in it as they take off.

        Petraeus and Gates are going to leave him looking like an idiot to the “moderate, centrists” but only after watching him alienate the “anti-war lefties”) for a year or so first.

        • fatster says:

          “Oh, what a tangled web we weave,
          When first we practise to deceive!”
          –Sir Walter Scott

          And it just gets worse from there on out.

      • bayofarizona says:

        Chuck Hagel. Why not Susan Collins (her boss was Clinton’s SecDef)? Obviously only republicans need apply

  4. Mary says:

    And still a bit OT, but closer to the topic, Horton has a piece up


    about how DOJ has finally caved and agreed to pay damages to Alice Martin victim Alex Latifi.

    Of course, they are still going after whistleblowers like Tamm, but it warms the cockles of your heart (does my heart have cockles?) to know that while Obamaco is still claiming that they would win against Latifi in defending Martin, they have much more important things to do (help provide the Get out of Jail free card for Assassains, if nothing else) and so they put some $$ on the table.

  5. Kassandra says:

    I know a guy who “opined” the same thing about Obama. I’ll tell, the right wing nuts are locked and loaded. Nobody could have done what they’ve done under Bush and gotten away with it.
    Nobody could have brought guns to one of his “town halls” and not been on the ground before they’d gotten five feet out of their cars. Let alone have bumper sticker disagreeing with his war.

  6. dcblogger says:

    I am not a lawyer, but the 1934 FCC act expressly forbids the airwaves to be used to incite violence. By that standard the broadcasters of hate radio should have had their licenses yanked years ago. And even in the case of cable, it seems to be that those who used cable to incite violence should not have a broadcast license. I also wonder if those who incite violence should be permitted to serve in a management position in a publicly held company. I could be wrong, but I believe we have legal remedies available to us.

  7. Palli says:

    By choice, the USA is the richest Third World nation and we don’t know it. We can’t conduct fair elections; we can’t take care of our citizens during a natural disaster, we can’t protect our citizens from other citizens, we can’t enforce our laws, educate all our people…
    But we can efficiently and swiftly indoctrinate our citizens. And we are too arrogant to remember Rwanda.