Saturday, March 3, 2012

Rhetoric: Violent Rhetoric

Sometimes it's OK to resort to violence, which probably means that violent rhetoric is also sometimes also OK. But, in most political discussion, violence isn't acceptable, which means that inciting people to violence is also unacceptable.

Frequently, however, people in politics use violent rhetoric -- "hit back", "go to war", etc. Sometimes politicians describe their opponents as being violent, perhaps implying that violence is justified in opposing them.

And it's often unclear whether violent rhetoric is truly inciting people to violence or is just using words metaphorically. After all, sometimes the very same words are used to incite violence in one context, but are then used in a metaphorical way.

A perfect example of this is "The Battle Hymn of the Republic", written by Julia Ward Howe in 1861 in order to inspire Northerners to take up arms against the Confederate South in the U.S. Civil War. Roughly a hundred years later, Martin Luther King, Jr., recited two stanzas of this song in order to inspire people to resist racial segregation via non-violent protests:
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat:
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.
So, is "The Battle Hymn of The Republic" violent rhetoric or not? Likely it depends on the context.

And the same probably applies to most other rhetoric. Whether it is violent or merely metaphorical depends on the context, and can be very difficult to determine.

"When Donald Trump says he'll make America great he means make it even greater for rich guys just like Donald Trump. Great for the guys who don't care how much they've already squeezed from everyone else. Great for the guys who always want more. Because that's who Donald Trump is: the guy who wants it all for himself. And watch out, because he will crush you into the dirt to get whatever he wants. That's who he is."
-- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), June 27, 2016.

Comment: Warren is demonizing Trump – as well as other unnamed "rich guys" – saying they don't care about other people and will "crush you into the dirt" – presumably metaphorical violent rhetoric meaning that they'll do anything – in order to satisfy their selfishness.

"This is the culmination of a string of decisions from the courts, rebuking the president and his administration for time after time exceeding its authority and stepping over the authority of the other branches. … That's exactly what's happened now with the amnesty case. It happened with the recess appointment case. The president is a chronic – he's a recidivist on this issue. And he needed to be slapped down again."
-- Pundit Charles Krauthammer, June 23, 2016, referring the the Supreme Court ruling on President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration enforcement.

Comment: "Slapped down" is violent rhetoric, though it's clearly meant to be metaphorical, here.

Bill O'Reilly on Thursday said he wanted to "slap" Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) for talking about gun control instead of terrorism in the aftermath of the Orlando nightclub attack.

"It just angers me. There's two separate issues: There's the terrorism, and there's the gun control. But what was it, Congressman Clyburn, is that his name?" the Fox News host said on "Fox and Friends," according to Politico.

"It's not about terrorism; it's about gun control," O'Reilly said, imitating Clyburn 's comments. "I just want to slap him," O'Reilly said, "with all due respect."
-- Pundit Bill O'Reilly, June 16, 2016, as related in a story by Rebecca Savransky in The Hill.

Comment: This is violent rhetoric.

Advice: If Trump comes to your town, start a riot.
-- Pundit Emmett Rensin, June 3, 2016, referring to Republican presidential contender Donald Trump.

Comment: This is violent rhetoric, though it’s not clear if it’s meant comically, metaphorically, or literally.

"Donald Trump will peel her skin off in a debate setting, and actually, he’ll peel it off this evening out in San Jose as well."
-- Former Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), June 2, 2016, referring to the prospect of a debate between Republican presidential contender Donald Trump and Democratic presidential contender former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Comment: This is violent rhetoric, though Perry is clearly using it metaphorically.

Recalling Rep. Joe Wilson’s 2009 outburst during President Barack Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress, former Attorney General Eric Holder didn’t mince words regarding the South Carolina congressman.

“Somebody should have smacked his a--,” Holder told ESPN's The Undefeated in an interview. “They should have ... told him to sit the f--- down.”
-- Former Attorney General Eric Holder, as related in a June 2, 2016, story by Louis Nelson of Politico.

Comment: This is violent rhetoric, as well as vulgar.

"Why don't you go to a really tall building and see if you can fly without a parachute?"
-- Pundit Mark Levin, May 4, 2016, during the 2nd hour of his radio show, referring to political strategist Steve Schmidt, who had accused Levin of harming the conservative movement.

Comment: This is violent rhetoric.

If Bernie Sanders were elected president, his supporters would “shoot every third person on Wall Street,” former President Bill Clinton joked on Friday.

Stumping for his wife Hillary Clinton at an event in Fort Washington, New York, Clinton jabbed Sanders and students who support the Vermont senator's attacks on corrupt financial systems.

"One of the few things I really haven't enjoyed about this primary: I think it's fine that all these young students have been so enthusiastic for her opponent and [he] sounds so good: 'Just shoot every third person on Wall Street and everything will be fine,'" he said.

In an interview with NBC News following the event, Clinton insisted his comment was "a total joke.”
-- Former President Bill Clinton, April 15, 2016, as related in a story by Hanna Trudo of Politico.

Comment: Clinton is using violent rhetoric, though he insists he is using it comically.

If the Republican National Committee is worried about the possibility of a contentious contested convention, one of its top officials showed no signs of concern Wednesday, even after the party's front-runner warned of possible riots in Cleveland if he is denied the party's nomination.

“Well first of all, I assume he’s speaking figuratively," Sean Spicer, the RNC's chief strategist and spokesman, told CNN. "I think if we go into a convention, whoever gets 1,237 delegates becomes the nominee. It’s plain and simple.”
-- From a March 16, 2016, story by Nick Gass of Politico, regarding statements by Republican presidential contender Donald Trump.

Comment: Spicer is arguing that Trump's violent rhetoric – "riots" – is to be taken figuratively rather than literally.

“We will not allow Ted Cruz to do to Marco in South Carolina what he did to Ben Carson in Iowa,” Rubio communications director Alex Conant said in statement to reporters that captured the tone of recent days. “Cruz has proven that he is willing to do or say anything to get elected. Over the last 10 days, the Cruz campaign has lied, smeared, fabricated and even Photoshopped. We fear the worst dirty tricks are yet to come. We strongly urge all South Carolina Republicans to beware of suspicious news reports, emails and social media posts during tomorrow’s voting. The Cruz campaign will do anything to stop Marco Rubio's momentum."

“Politics in South Carolina is a blood sport,” Haley said, gesturing to her footwear. “I wear heels. It’s not for a fashion statement, but because you have to be prepared to kick at any time.”
-- From a February 19, 2016, story in Politico by Nick Gass, featuring a quote from Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC).

Comment: Conant is using the "they'll say anything" caricature, while Haley is using violent rhetoric.

"You look at Trump supporters, and they're dehumanizing people. Donald Trump is doing it. They're dehumanizing anybody who stands against them." They're fat, they're pigs, they're losers, they're cry babies", whatever they are. And he talks about women, as you know, it's even worse. When you dehumanize people, you head for massive, massive trouble. Where is the press speaking out about the dehumanization of people by Donald Trump? All we heard, all we heard about the Tea Party is, how "this rhetoric is going to lead to violence". I'm telling you, when you dehumanize people, you are one step away from the jungle."
-- Pundit Glenn Beck, January 29, 2016, referring to Republican presidential contender Donald Trump.

Comment: Beck is accusing Trump and his supporters of dehumanizing their opponents. He is also accusing some critics of the Tea Party movement for being hypocritical in suggesting that the rhetoric of the Tea Party was inciting violence (e.g., the shooting of Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ)), but not denouncing Trump's rhetoric on the same grounds. Is it true that dehumanizing rhetoric puts us "one step away from the jungle", or is that an exaggeration?

Donald Trump suggested Sunday the half-dozen white attendees at his campaign rally on Saturday may have reacted appropriately when they shoved, tackled, punched and kicked a black protester who disrupted his speech.

"Maybe he should have been roughed up because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing," Trump said Sunday morning on Fox News, less than 24 hours after his campaign said it "does not condone" the physical altercation.
-- Republican presidential contender Donald Trump, November 22, 2015, as related in a CNN story by Jeremy Diamond.

Comment: Trump is endorsing violence. What was the protester doing to justify a violent response?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's not growing a company when you absorb two other companies. And then she laid off over 40,000 people. And she says she's a great CEO. Every time I see her on TV, I want to reach through and strangle her.

[Audience, including Clinton, laughs.]

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know that doesn't sound very nice.

CLINTON: I wouldn't mess with you. [laughs]
-- Democratic presidential contender former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, November 10, 2015, in response to remarks from attendee at a political event.

Comment: This is violent rhetoric. Though it may be intended – and received – as comedic, shouldn't it still be denounced? What if someone jokingly said they'd like to strangle Clinton, would it be acceptable to simply laugh in response?

KROFT: I’m sure you realize that it is difficult for many Americans to get past the fact that President Obama has signed an agreement with a country that says “Death to America”, “Death to Israel”. How do you explain this? What are they to make of it? Are they to take it literally? Is this for domestic, internal, Iranian political consumption? What are Americans to make of it, the language?

ROUHANI [as translated]: This slogan that is chanted is not a slogan against the American people. Our people respect the American people. The Iranian people are not looking for war with any country. But, at the same time, the policies of the United States have been against the national interests of Iranian people. It’s understandable that people will demonstrate sensitivity to this issue.
-- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during an interview with CBS News’ Steve Kroft, released September 18, 2015.

Comment: Rouhani is saying that this violent rhetoric is not meant to be taken literally. Rouhani also uses “hate the policies, not the people” rhetoric. If Americans were to chant “Death to Iran”, would Iranians interpret it similarly, as being directed at Iran’s policies?

BALDWIN: I applaud any kind of peaceful movement, absolutely. I have had a number of people on the show who absolutely support what you do, including people who founded Black Lives Matter. They have been on. But, again, back to the violent rhetoric, when you say pigs in a blanket, Rashad, I want you to tell me what that is supposed to me.

TURNER: I mean, it's an example of -- even with this case that we're seeing down in Houston, when people of color, black people are accused of killing a police officer, you don't see that man down there getting bail. But what we see on the flip side of that is when a police officer kills an unarmed black male, that the system still works in their favor that they are able to get bail. So, when we say fry them, we're not speaking of kill a police officer.

BALDWIN: You're not?

TURNER: But we're saying treat the police the same as you're going to treat a civilian who commits murder against a police officer.

BALDWIN: David Katz, sort of representing the law enforcement side, how do you hear that?

KATZ: It took a long time for him to answer that question. The fact of the matter is, you can't just simply say this is not representative of our movement. You have people holding that sign making those comments. You have protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge saying what do we want, dead cops, when do we want them, now. You have two dead cops in New York City. You have got Deputy Goforth shot in the head by a racist murderer because of what these guys are doing.

BALDWIN: We don't know his [the killer of Deputy Goforth's] motivation. Let's be clear.
-- David Katz of the Global Security Group and Rashad Anthony Turner, organizer of Black Lives Matter in Saint Paul, MN, August 31, 2015, during an interview with Brook Baldwin of CNN.

Comment: This discussion concerns whether the acts of a few can be attributed to the larger group that they're a part of. In other words is it a hasty generalization to accuse the larger group of guilt by association? If a few members of Black Lives Matter engage in violent rhetoric (i.e., "pigs in a blanket, fry 'em like bacon"), how does that reflect on the group as a whole? If a few police officers wrongfully shoot unarmed black men, how does that reflect on police (or on a particular police department) as a whole?

"Pigs in a blanket, fry 'em like bacon!"
-- A chant from Black Lives Matter protesters, August 30, 2015, near the fairgrounds in St. Paul, MN. "Pigs in a blanket" means police officers in body bags. On September 2, 2015, affiliated activist Trahern Crews explained that the chant was "playful" in character and intent.

Comment: This is violent (even dehumanizing) rhetoric, and it's difficult to see how it is meant "playfully".

It's said ONLY 5-10% of Muslims are extremists. In 1940, ONLY 7% of Germans Were Nazis. How'd that go?
-- From a meme retweeted by ESPN analyst Curt Schilling, August 25, 2015. CNN's link to the story was titled, "ESPN analyst compares Muslims to Nazis".

Comment: First, the meme uses "extremist" rhetoric. Second, CNN used "comparing" rhetoric in describing the text of the meme. Technically, the meme isn't comparing Muslims to Nazis; rather, it is comparing extremist Muslims to Nazis, and comparing Muslims in general to Germans. (Whether the percentages cited by the meme are accurate is a separate issue.) In likening extremist Muslims to Nazis, the meme is describing them as a group that should be opposed by violence.

Democratic Congresswoman Gwen Moore accused Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker of “literally” tightening the noose around African-Americans Monday.

Moore, who is black and represents the city of Milwaukee, Wisc., made the comments during a conference call with reporters timed to coincide with the Wisconsin Governor’s arrival in South Carolina.

According to a local Fox affiliate, the policies Moore believe are comparable to lynching are “Walker’s opposition to raising the minimum wage, requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls, and requiring drug testing for public aid recipient…”
-- Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), August 24, 2015, as related in a story by Alex Griswold of Mediaite. Her remarks referred to Republican presidential candidate Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI).

Comment: Moore is demonizing Walker with language that invokes racism. She is using violent rhetoric, likening (or "comparing") Walker's political positions to a racist lynching.

"We need a nominee who is going to throw every punch, not pull punches, and someone who cannot stumble before he even gets into the ring."
-- Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, August 6, 2015.

Comment: This is violent rhetoric of the "get tough and hit back" sort.

CALLER: Well, first of all, he can't be bought, but he is not afraid to punch the media back in the mouth, and that's what a lot of people like about Donald Trump. He'll punch 'em in the mouth.

LIMBAUGH: And what if he doesn't do it tonight? You know, we've heard the observation that he's in a different mold now, a different mode. In the past week he's more presidential; he hasn't been calling anybody names. What happens if an opportunity like you want pops up tonight? What if Donald Trump does not do something like that? Are you gonna be disappointed and think, "Oh, no. Oh, no. Trump's not who he is, either." You gonna get that far down with it?

CALLER: I'll be a little surprised if he doesn't do it, but how do you treat bullies, Rush? You punch 'em twice as hard as what they punch you, right? That's how you get the respect. Well, that's what Trump did to the media person out there. I don't know where he was, but he said, "No, no, no. You're done. You're done," and he didn't take any further questions from them. The media, I think, is a little afraid of Trump. They're afraid to challenge him now 'cause he knows they will embarrass them. He will punch them right in the mouth, and they know it. That's how you treat bullies. You punch 'em back five times as hard as what they come after you.

LIMBAUGH: I'll tell you what: I'm sure you have people standing up there cheering with this. I don't doubt it all.
-- Pundit Rush Limbaugh, August 6, 2015, speaking with a caller, Jay in Columbia, SC. Their remarks concerned Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and the GOP debate taking place later that day.

Comment: This is violent rhetoric of the "get tough and hit back" sort.

TAPPER: During your first term as governor, you were fond of saying that you can treat bullies in one of two ways -- quote -- "You can either sidle up to them or you can punch them in the face." You said, "I like to punch them in the face." At the national level, who deserves a punch in the face?

CHRISTIE: Oh, the national teachers union, who has already endorsed Hillary Clinton 16, 17 months before the election.


CHRISTIE: Because they're not for education for our children. They're for greater membership, greater benefits, greater pay for their members. And they are the single most destructive force in public education in America. I have been saying that since 2009. I have got the scars to show it. But I'm never going to stop saying it, because they never change their stripes.
-- Republican presidential candidate Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), August 2, 2015, being interviewed by CNN's Jake Tapper.

Comment: This is violent rhetoric. Christie is also demonizing teachers unions, saying that they don't care about educating children, only about their own selfish interests.

"This president's foreign policy is the most feckless in American history. It is so naive that he would trust the Iranians. By doing so, he will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven."
-- Republican presidential candidate and former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR), July 26, 2015. Huckabee was referring to the deal on Iran's nuclear program endorsed by President Barack Obama.

Comment: Huckabee is invoking the Holocaust, predicting that the Iranian nuclear deal will be as deadly to Jews (in this case, the ones living in Israel) as the massacres by the Nazis. This is a prediction, so it's technically unclear whether it's true or false, but it seems likely to be an exaggeration. If it's so obvious that the deal is apocalyptically bad, then why – according to Huckabee – would Obama endorse it? Because Obama is evil or stupid? Or is this instead a violent metaphor on Huckabee's part, a "comparing" of the Iranian deal with the Holocaust?

CHUCK TODD, MEET THE PRESS: Let's bring up Donald Trump. You've defended him. Your former governor, Rick Perry, has criticized him. You've had an experience with plenty of Mexican immigrants in Texas. Are they -- are these immigrants that are coming into Texas what Donald Trump describes? Are they drug dealers, rapists, and such?

SEN. TED CRUZ: Listen, I am a passionate advocate for legal immigrants. I am the son of an immigrant who came legally from Cuba. And I'll tell you, from the day I started campaigning, I traveled the state of Texas, talking about how all of us, we are the children of those who risked everything for freedom, that that immigrant experience of all of us is what makes us Americans, because we value in our DNA liberty and opportunity above all else. Now, when it comes to Donald Trump, I like Donald Trump. He's bold, he's brash. And I get that it seems the favorite sport of the Washington media is to encourage some Republicans to attack other Republicans. I ain't gonna do it. I'm not interested in Republican on Republican violence.

TODD: Rhetoric matters.

CRUZ: You know --

TODD: Doesn't rhetoric matter?

CRUZ: I salute Donald Trump for focusing on the need to address illegal immigration. The Washington cartel doesn't want to address that. The Washington cartel doesn't believe we need to secure the borders. The Washington cartel supports amnesty and I think amnesty's wrong. And I salute Donald Trump for focusing on it. He has a colorful way of speaking. It's not the way I speak. But I'm not gonna engage in the media's game of throwing rocks and attacking other Republicans. I'm just not gonna do it.
-- Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), July 5, 2015, during an interview with NBC News' Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press". Cruz was referring to remarks made by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on June 16, 2015.

Comment: This is an evasion, as Cruz never addresses whether Trump's remarks were appropriate. Is Cruz never going to criticize remarks made by other Republicans, no matter what they are, because that would be "Republican on Republican violence"? (Note that Cruz also uses violent rhetoric, though as a (comically exaggerated?) metaphor.) Is he never going to oppose another GOP candidate on anything? What if someone doesn't like the idea of Americans being "encouraged to attack" one another: does that mean Republicans shouldn't criticize the remarks of Democrats, either, and vice versa? Of course not. Cruz isn't being asked to engage in name-calling, demonizing, or negative politics. He's being asked to take a stand on whether someone else's rhetoric is acceptable, and he's refused to. He's evaded the question by praising Trump for criticizing illegal immigration – which was never the issue; the issue was Trump's description of illegal Mexican immigrants as being mostly rapists and drug-runners – and by accusing the media of trying to draw him into some contrived conflict. But it's entirely appropriate to ask a politician to take a stand on the rhetoric of another politician. Note, the word "colorful" is essentially a way of designating Trump's rhetoric as being attention-getting, but not wrong (for the record, what Trump said was wrong).

Clint Eastwood doesn't hold a grudge against Michael Moore, and denies he ever threatened to kill the filmmaker.

Eastwood told a CinemaCon audience Wednesday that Moore, an outspoken critic of Eastwood's film American Sniper, even helped the film's record-breaking box office success.

"Everyone keeps saying I threatened to kill Michael Moore. That's not true," said Eastwood, before adding with a laugh. "It isn't a bad idea."

The comment received rousing applause and laughter from the audience filled with theater owners at the national convention.
-- USA Today story, April 22, 2015 by Bryan Alexander.

Comment: This is violent rhetoric, though it's intended to be taken comedically.

Like an abusive father who beats his children then guilts them into loving him, US President Barack Obama’s new charm offensive follows weeks of berating Israel. Lobbying for his Iran cave-in, seeking support for this deal he seemed to want more than the mullahs did, Obama told The New York Times’ Thomas Friedman, “It has been personally difficult for me to hear...expressions that somehow...this administration has not done everything it could to look out for Israel’s interest.” While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should grab this olive leaf, even if it’s a fig leaf, such glib guilt-tripping cannot undo the harm caused by Obama’s assault and his dog-whistling, broadcasting hostility to those already primed to bash Israel. … Here’s a chance for Obama to demonstrate sincerity: confront campus anti-SemiZionism and the harsh anti-Zionist minority festering in today’s Democratic Party. Let him, along with Hollywood and student leaders, dictate a new script renewing the American-Israeli bond.
-- Pundit Gil Troy, April 7, 2015.

Comment: Troy's description of Obama's treatment of Netanyahu is violent rhetoric. Troy is also accusing Obama of using "code words" to communicate bigotry.

TED CRUZ: The Obama economy is a disaster, Obamacare is a train wreck and the Obama-Clinton foreign policy of leading from behind — the whole world is on fire.

JULIE TRANT: The world is on fire?

CRUZ: The world is on fire. Yes! Your world is on fire. But you know what? Your mommy’s here and everyone’s here to make sure that the world you grow up in is even better.
-- Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), March 15, 2015. Julie Trant, a 3-year-old, was sitting in the audience with her mother as Cruz spoke.

Comment: This is a case of metaphorical language (in this case, a violent metaphor) being taken literally. It's understandable when children sometimes mistake metaphors as being literal, and Cruz responded to try to correct Trant's understanding of his rhetoric.


Examples from 2014.


Examples from 2013.


Examples from 2012.


Examples from 2011.

"See, Barack's been talking down to black people … I want to cut his nuts off."
-- Rev. Jesse Jackson, July 6, 2008, Jackson made the comments to UnitedHealth Group executive Dr. Reed V. Tuckson, after an interview on Fox News. Jackson did not realize his remarks were being recorded.

"They Shot the Wrong Lincoln"
-- Title of a column written by conservative pundit Ann Coulter, August 30, 2006. The column was critical of Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-RI). The title alluded to the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.

"American Dreamz -- 2006 satire by Paul Weitz about a terrorist plot against a strongly Bush-like US President (Dennis Quaid) when he appears as a guest judge on a strongly Pop Idol-like TV programme"
-- A film about a fictional assassination, released April 21, 2006.

"A spoiled child is telling us our Social Security isn't safe anymore, so he is going to fix it for us. Well, here's your answer, you ungrateful whelp: [audio sound of four gunshots being fired.] Just try it, you little bastard. [audio of gun being cocked]."
-- Comedy skit broadcast on the radio program, "The Randi Rhodes Show", April 25, 2005. At the time, President George W. Bush was proposing Social Security reform.

"On November 2, the entire civilised world will be praying, praying Bush loses. And Sod's law dictates he'll probably win, thereby disproving the existence of God once and for all. The world will endure four more years of idiocy, arrogance and unwarranted bloodshed, with no benevolent deity to watch over and save us. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr -- where are you now that we need you?"
-- Columnist Charlie Brooker, published in The Guardian on October 23, 2004. Booth, Oswald, and Hinckley were assassins, respectively, of Presidents Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan (Hinckley's assassination attempt failed).

KIKI: You know, Herb, the saddest day of my life was the day when John Hinckley missed.

[Audience applause.]

If I'd'a had the strength, I'd'a gone to Washington, DC, and shot that son of a bitch myself. But I didn't. I was tired.

[Audience laughter.]

And now we've got an even bigger son of a bitch down there, don't we, Herb?

[Audience applause.]

So, uh, if any of you have the strength, you know –

HERB: [expressing disapproval]

KIKI: Be my guest. What? Oh, yeah, you're right. Listen: don't tell anyone I said that.

[Audience laughter.]

I don't want them reopening my FBI file again. But you know it's funny, Herb, how things go 'round, come around, go around. And lately, you know, when was it, a couple months ago that Reagan, he went and, you know, died, praise the – you know, Hallelujah! You know, that was a happy day. That was a happy day, Herb. And you know, all you saw on television was "the legacy, the legacy, the legacy". How many people have died of AIDS since the early 1980s, Herb? Still dying? That's the legacy!

[Audience applause.]

I hold that son of a bitch responsible for every AIDS death that has ever happened in this country and in this world. That's the legacy.
-- Justin Vivian Bond in the persona of "Kiki DuRane", September 19, 2004, (recorded on the album, Kiki and Herb Will Die for You: Live at Carnegie Hall). Bond was referring to John Hinckley Jr., who on March 30, 1981, attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan. Reagan survived the attack (he died on June 5, 2004), and Hinckley was diagnosed with mental illness. President George W. Bush was president at the time of Bond's remarks.

Comment: This is violent rhetoric in the context of a comedy routine, though it's far from clear that Bond's words are meant to be taken comedically. Bond explains (more, justifies?) the rhetoric against Reagan on the grounds of Reagan's policies towards AIDS, which many (like Bond) have criticized, while others have defended.

JAY: Hey hey, ho ho -- George Bush has got to go.
BEN: You're telling me to calm down when you've got this...deed on your mind. It's a major, major, major crime. It doesn't get much more major.
JAY: I know, and it's high time, too. I haven't felt this way about any of the other ones. Not Nixon, not Bonzo, even. For the good of humankind.
 BEN: Do you have a gun? 
JAY: I don't like guns. 
BEN: But do you have one?
 JAY: I may.
 BEN: That is so low. You're a civilized person. 
JAY: Not anymore.
 BEN: You can't -- the country has no need for this service.
 JAY: I think it does. I think we have to lance the fucking boil.
-- From the novel, "Checkpoint", by Nicholson Baker, published in August 2004. The novel depicts a plot to assassinate President George W. Bush.

Comment: Do works of fiction about assassinating presidents currently in office amount to inciting violence?

"Bush: Wanted, Dead or Alive"
-- Sign displayed in Portland, Washington protest of President George W. Bush, August 22, 2002. The word "alive" was reportedly crossed out. Other signs portrayed Bush as Adolf Hitler, as a Nazi, and as having a gun put to his head.

"My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years … to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub."
-- Political activist Grover Norquist, 2001 (exact date is unclear, possibly more than one occasion).

(The list above is not intended to be a comprehensive record of all relevant examples.)

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