Murder as a Punchline

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The same theory of criminal conspiracy being applied to the prosecution of Michigan’s Hutaree Militia would justify the arrest and trial of President Obama for conspiring to murder the Jonas Brothers. In fact, the case against Mr. Obama — based on previous criminal conduct and the means at his disposal — is far stronger than the single-ply tissue of speculation and innuendo that constitute the federal case against the notorious Michigan Nine.

During the White House Correspondents Dinner last Saturday (May 1), Mr. Obama uncorked what his scribes doubtless considered to be a certifiable thigh-slapper regarding the president’s power to murder human beings at whim:

“[Obama’s young daughters] Sasha and Malia are huge fans, but boys [addressing the Jonas Brothers, who were seated in the room], don’t get any ideas. Two words for you: predator drones. You will never see it coming.”

In response, the audience rendered unto Caesar the dutiful laughter required anytime the Pontiff of the Civil Religion favors us with an insipid specimen of pre-fabricated presidential “wit.”

None of the spangled sycophants in attendance displayed a tremor of discomfort at the thought that the individual who had just made a joke about assassinating Americans by remote control actually attempted to kill a U.S. citizen — New Mexico-born radical Muslim cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki — by way of a Predator drone strike last December. The Obama administration, which admits to maintaining a hit list of U.S. citizens subject to summary execution, has annihilated hundreds of innocent civilians in Pakistan and elsewhere over the past year.

Such thoughts, if they occurred to anyone in the room last Saturday, weren’t allowed to taint the revelry. Perhaps at next year’s dinner Obama could get his Caligula freak on, calling out individuals by name and describing various horrible things he could do to them at whim; that routine would surely bring the house down like a Predator-deployed Hellfire missile! (Drum kick.)

But seriously, folks, this kind of thing is funny — until someone gets killed. That’s the entire point: people are getting killed, at the orders of the guy who was willing to read from his Teleprompter a line (reportedly supplied by Jon Stewart’s gag writers from The Daily Show) intended to extort humor from the slaughter.

Some might contend that a bad joke doesn’t constitute evidence of a criminal conspiracy. The people responsible for compiling the indictment against the nine Hutaree defendants apparently think otherwise, since they are treating ill-advised talk about killing people — at least some of it best characterized as misguided juvenile attempts at humor — as evidence of a “seditious conspiracy.”

In her order granting pre-trial release to the Hutaree defendants (an order immediately blocked by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals), U.S. District Court Judge Victoria Roberts provides extensive excerpts from the evidence. This includes redacted transcripts of conversations in which militia David and Joshua Stone, Michael Meeks, and Kristopher Sickles talk about killing judges and law enforcement personnel.

The ellipses littering the transcript are tangible evidence of cherry-picking by the prosecution.

Even orphaned from context, however, the recorded conversations don’t amount to evidence of a criminal conspiracy, but rather a tendency to engage in the worst kind of self-deluded, adolescent locker-room braggadocio.

Here, in its entirely, is the “evidence” adduced by the prosecutors to substantiate the supposed plot to kill police and then ambush the mourners, gleaned from a recorded conversation that occurred on February 20:

David Stone:

Or, or better yet, we shoot one, from a distance, high-powered rifle, you sit back you take him out — you go, kapop! — You just shoot one. And then you just kind sit back, they’ll pack out a huntin’ [sic] for ya. Try to find out who you are, but they have this thing, that everybody has, and it’s called a funeral. Now for that funeral, you’ll have cops from every state of the country come where? To his funeral.

[…]

Why not just take care of the situation? Kabunk! Kabunk! [Sound effect]

[…]

I’m thinkin’ IEDs and you just blow the whole convoy up. Boom!

[…]

Kristopher Sickles:

Sneak in their house, poison their milk.

[…]

David Stone:

No, no, you set their house on fire and you have another team sitting back watching the local fire department try and come down the road and it’s just pop! Pop! Pop! Pop! As trucks go baba, “we’re over heating,” Rrrr [sound effect]. “Hey, we’re not gonna make it to this fire.”

[…]

I mean, there’s a hundred and one scenarios you could use.

(End of excerpts.)

The ellipses in the excerpt above are from the original transcript, as provided to Judge Roberts by the prosecution. We’re not reading a conversation; we’re being fed lurid soundbites carefully juxtaposed in a way intended to elicit maximum outrage with minimal detail.

The prosecution insists that the foregoing demonstrates a “general concept of operations” in which the defendants were preparing to ambush and murder police. But if there was an actual agreement to carry out such acts, or preparations to do the same, the relevant excerpts were left on the cutting room floor. This is the “A-list” material the prosecution cited in its effort to deny bail to a group accused of seditious conspiracy involving weapons of mass destruction.

“Discussions about killing local law enforcement officers — and even discussions about killing members of the Judicial Branch of Government — do not translate to conspiracy to overthrow, or levy [war] against, the United States Government,” wrote Judge Roberts. She followed with the observation that during the recording, “the Defendants laugh, make sounds, and appear to talk over one another. There is also a discussion of strippers.”

This wasn’t a strategy session conducted by a terrorist cabal, but a bull session involving angry people who — most likely under the influence of an adult libation or similar conversational lubricant — indulged in what Roberts calls “hate-filled, venomous speech” that enjoys unconditional First Amendment protection.

The most extensive expression of the Hutaree’s “seditious” intent, Roberts points out, was a lengthy address written by David Stone that “speaks of reclaiming America, not overthrowing the United States Government.”

Reduced to what John Wayne would call the “spitting out words to watch them splatter” mode of argumentation, the Feds insisted that the Hutaree defendants “pose a danger to the community because they lack respect for lawful authority.”

The prosecution could demonstrate that the Hutaree defendants had abundant contempt for the government — what perceptive person doesn’t? — but it hasn’t demonstrated that they were hostile toward lawful authority (which of itself wouldn’t constitute a crime, either).

The American political tradition, beginning with that instrument of sedition called the Declaration of Independence, clearly distinguishes between government and lawful authority, making the former subordinate to the latter, which itself is vested in the people. That same literary product of irrational anti-government fanaticism also states unambiguously that there are times when defense of lawful authority requires that the people “alter or abolish” the government ruling them.

By any honest reckoning, the government ruling us is the single most promiscuous law-breaker on record, and the contempt of our rulers for the legal authority under which they supposedly operate — the U.S. Constitution — is inexhaustible. This helps explain why the Regime’s secret police infiltrate and entrap inconsequential groups of socially marginalized people who live in rotting mobile homes, while their Dear Leader — an individual who lives in a fortified mansion, and has at his disposal power sufficient to destroy human life everywhere — can make puerile jokes about his ongoing murder spree.

William Norman Grigg [send him mail] publishes the Pro Libertate blog and hosts the Pro Libertate radio program.

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