“Whoever, with intent to cause the overthrow or destruction of any such government, prints, publishes, edits, issues, circulates, sells, distributes, or publicly displays any written or printed matter advocating, advising, or teaching the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying any government in the United States by force or violence, or attempts to do so;
Or Whoever organizes or helps or attempts to organize any society, group, or assembly of persons who teach, advocate, or encourage the overthrow or destruction of any such government by force or violence;
Or becomes or is a member of, or affiliates with, any such society, group, or assembly of persons, knowing the purposes thereof – Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both, and shall be ineligible for employment by the United States or any department or agency thereof, for the five years next following his conviction.”
This is the law of the land. A law called The Smith Act of 1940.
Proposed by Congressman Howard D Smith of Virginia, and signed into law by Franklin D Roosevelt, this law, which is still on the books, made it a criminal offense for anyone to knowingly or willfully advocate, abet, advise, or teach the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing the Government of the United States or of any State by force or violence.
The law made it a crime for anyone to organize any association which teaches, advises, or encourages such an overthrow, or for anyone to become a member of or to affiliate with any such association.
When we look at this law, and we look at what’s going on today in the conservative media, it’s easy to see where Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Lou Dobbs, Michele Bachmann and many of the other right winged media personalities, are breaking this law.
Since this president took office in January of 2009, it’s been a daily aim on their part to preach lies, mis-information, and bigotry, in a willful and apparent effort to cause one or a group of their listeners to do whatever they deem necessary to “take their country back.”
From Glenn Beck’s calling the President racist and his recent statements on radio that the Democrats in congress are “asking to be shot,” Michele Bachmann’s constant lies about the government wanting you to fill out the census so that they can put us in Concentration camps, to Rush Limbaugh dehumanizing the president, wishing for the president to fail, and saying that “the president of the United States, Barack Obama, is destroying the United States economy.” These are just some of the constant daily intentional statements that are made about the government of The United States of America. And they are made with one intent, to cause disruption to the government by advocating individuals or groups to “take back their country.”
Now there are those who are smart enough to know that these political commentators are just entertainers, and that the statements they make are not to be taken to heart. But the purpose of these statements are not for the smart ones, but for those who may have already had a pre conceived notion of the government, and thus, are easily led when these spoken words fall in line with their beliefs.
We have already seen pockets of these words bearing fruit in the manifestation of the Fort Hood shooting, the IRS plane crash in Texas, The Pentagon shooting, and others like Richard Andrew Poplawsk, a 22-year-old charged in the worst police shooting in the modern history of Pittsburgh, because he thought the government would eradicate freedom of speech, take away his guns and use the military to enslave the citizenry. This message of “The Government will take away your guns,” is preached by Glenn Beck on his television and radio show.
“Whoever, with intent to cause the overthrow or destruction of any such government, prints, publishes, edits, issues, circulates, sells, distributes, or publicly displays any written or printed matter advocating, advising, or teaching the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying any government in the United States by force or violence, or attempts to do so; shall be fined and or imprisoned.”
There are those who will argue the First Amendment, and that it protects these commentators and their lies through the Freedom of Speech clause. However, there is already precedent where the Supreme Court, in it’s review of Dennis V The United States, sided with the Smith Act. Chief Justice Vinson’s opinion found a clear and present danger test. It states, that if the government found clear evidence that the intent is to cause it harm, then this is ground to suppress freedom of Speech.
Justice Vinson said;
”If, then, this interest may be protected, the literal problem which is presented is what has been meant by the use of the phrase ‘clear and present danger’ of the utterances bringing about the evil within the power of Congress to punish. Obviously, the words cannot mean that before the Government may act, it must wait until the putsch is about to be executed, the plans have been laid and the signal is awaited. If Government is aware that a group aiming at its overthrow is attempting to indoctrinate its members and to commit them to a course whereby they will strike when the leaders feel the circumstances permit, action by the Government is required.”
This is the law.
There are those who have already acted on the words of these commentators. People have already died. And if nothing is done, the trend will continue and will get worse.
There are those who can discern truth from lies, and knows that what these media personalities are doing is politically driven. But there are also those who listen, and look for validity. They want to know that someone share their views, regardless of how far-reaching those views are. They will listen to these commentators, and take suggestions like “take back your country” seriously. They will arm themselves with guns and attack the pentagon, or they will board planes and drive into government buildings. They will hear words like, “the government is coming to take your guns,” and feel they must act, by killing government officials like police officers.
There must be a time where we all stop, and look around us and take responsibility for the inciting words that come out, especially when your audience includes millions, of all types and persuasions. And if we choose not to stop, then we must be expected to abide by the laws of the land. And accept the consequences of our actions when we intentionally, on a daily basis, break those laws.