COMMENTARY | It might not be the optimal way for one to get publicity to run for public office, but it just might be an acceptable path for Tea Party firebrand and failed politician Jules Manson, a California man so incensed with President Barack Obama over his signing of the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) that he took to Facebook and called for the assassination of Obama and his children. His rant prompted considerable verbal backlash on the Internet, not to mention several articles like Michael Stone's at Examiner.com that made Manson look like a certifiable lunatic who might need watching. But it is in that attention -- and now he's talking about running for state office -- that we discover that America needs people like Manson.
After using language couched in Bible-like phrasing ("it MUST be countered with assassination onto them and their children"), Manson clarified later in his comments to his Facebook posting: "Assassinate the f----- n----- and his monkey children."
Manson was angry at the prospect of President Obama's signature on a law (the NDAA) that, according to some interpretations of the wording of certain provisions, might obviate due process with regard to suspected terrorists, even for American citizens. His answer to such a perceived threat to constitutionally guaranteed citizens rights (a valid concern) would be to have the president (and his children) assassinated -- an overreactive response. Perhaps it did not occur to Manson that there are several ways in which the law could be overturned: through the judicial process and through the legislative process (the latter of which could amend, clarify the provision, or repeal it altogether).
Such extreme answers to the passage of laws often provoke, if not an equal and opposite reaction, at least a strong reaction.
Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich is currently experiencing much the same problem -- although nowhere near the offended vitriol -- with his comments -- at present mere suggestions -- about arresting and subpoenaing judges that might not adhere to the agenda of an anti-secular Gingrich administration, presuming that he be elected president in 2012. Not only have politicians and even former Bush administration Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez spoken against such a curtailing and/or oversight of the judicial process, but Gingrich's words seem to have had an effect on the national presidential preference polls as well. What once was a double-digit lead has disappeared and become a tie between the former Speaker of the House and Mitt Romney (as tracked by Real Clear Politics). Although Gingrich's ideas of how to deal with "activist" judges and Manson's racist call for assassination should not be equated, it must noted that the average American recoils from such extreme language, especially language that appears to call for a radical imposition and/or answer to an opposing view or action.
The Secret Service apparently thought Manson needed investigating as well, according to LA Weekly, and visited him on Monday evening, according to Manson. He had by then removed his offensive comments from his Facebook page (although they can still be seen on screen grabs, like the one at Your Black Politics). And calling for the assassination of the president is protected under the First Amendment (despite its implied intent).
Besides, Manson says, he is a racist. He posted to his Facebook page: "I am very RACIST: an Insidious American Against Socialist Takeover." (It looks as though Manson also needs to be schooled on the construction of acronyms as well.)
There are those that have literally told Manson that his views are unwelcome and that he should leave the country. But that, too, is an inappropriate response. Every free society needs people like Jules Manson.
For it is people like Manson who call for the unjustified killing of those who are only doing what they feel is correct, no matter how inerrant or misguided they might be, that teach us the true value of a representative democracy and a fair and balanced legal system within the framework of an ethical constitution. That they are acting within the context of the law only speaks well of the system in place. That their opponents would espouse breaking the law or use force or coercive measures to protect the same law does not show either on the side of right or the just, but to break laws in order to protect them defeats the purpose of the rule of law. That someone would want to violently eliminate (or even arrest) a person of power simply because of an opposing view not only reeks of the reactionary and the uncivilized, it smacks of authoritarianism and police tactics. The manner in which the perceived wrong or affront should be corrected should also be affected and/or actualized via legal means, through the courts, through the system that exists to balance the scales in order to provide fairness to the citizenry.
Succinctly, people like Jules Manson are necessary as a check to existing systems, as examples of contrast to appropriate behavior. Abhorrent as his words might be, they provide a cautionary tale for those who would model ignorance and replace legal recourse with violence, hatred, racism, and intolerant constraints. He and those like him become examples of incompetence, ignorance, and insecurity, strong precursors to violent behavior, something that history underscores as rarely efficient in solving problems.
After all the back-and-forth, Manson now says he will run for the state senate in California's 28th District. Oddly enough, he says he will run as a Democrat. It is the district that is home of representative Ted Lieu, who, according to LA Weekly, helped generate the condemnation of Lowe's when they pulled their ads from the controversial TLC network show "All-American Muslim."
People like Jules Manson do bear watching, even if to only provide examples of how not to act or react. Of course, there is also that disturbing promotion of assassination of the president and his children...
Still, if Manson keeps talking as he has been, he's going to end up giving his family a bad name.