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Incitement to Violence

January 13, 2011

While pundits–especially from the left, it seems–are blathering on about who might or might not have incited Jared Loughner to commit his act of violence, a lawyer friend of mine pretty clearly closed the argument for me Tuesday night.

There is a well-established legal definition of incitement to violence, and it involves three parts (1) that the person is directly being encouraged (or “incited”) to commit some act of violence, and (2) there is a clear and present danger that the person will commit the act, and (3) that the person does, in fact, commit the act. Here’s a citation from Ohio’s law for example.

None of these apply to Loughner. He and he alone is responsible for the acts he committed. Statements blaming groups or well-known conservative figures are libelous–or would be if the laws of libel were not relaxed in the case of famous persons.

What the left is trying to do is to widen the definition as a way of further restricting speech. This is already done in the case of “hate speech” laws–and indeed, these unconstitutional restrictions on First Amendment free speech are being connected with “incitement to violence.”

A related idea is “incitement to riot.” Here’s the definition from the US Code:

Urging or instigating other persons to riot, but shall not be deemed to mean the mere oral or written (1) advocacy of ideas or (2) expression of belief, not involving advocacy of any act or acts of violence or assertion of the rightness of, or the right to commit, any such act or acts. 18 USC

Note again that mere oral or written advocacy of ideas or beliefs is not incitement to riot. The left wishes it were.

Incidentally, there really was a Riot Act in Britain, and it was read to warn rioters to disperse before more serious action was taken.

It is time now to stop the demagoging , let the wounded and the grieving recover in peace, and get on with the business of restoring sanity to the Republic.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. don rodgers permalink
    January 14, 2011 6:23 am

    Al,
    Those with a “transformational” agenda need the violence to occur so they can “act” to save us from ourselves. They do need to change the definition, but they also must have it apply to only the groups they must control. Your are right in all you say, but there is more at work here than just bad reporting by old media and scoring political points. A Rep from CA set things up when he said, “If Violent Rhetoric Didn’t Cause This Shooting, It Will Cause Next One”.
    With everyone’s efforts of the last two years, we are winning on the national and local stage, but we must stand resolute in what we believe. The anti-constitutional forces know their chance at true “transformation” is slipping away and will stop at nothing for a last grasp at true power. Stand with the truth, stand with each other and be unafraid. True power lies with us. It cannot be lost unless we give it away.

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