Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Trump / "Second Amendment People": Not a Threat. But Maybe It's Worse.

Watched it again.
I still think it's very clear that it's not a threat.
It may not exactly be a joke, though. It's more like a kind of of those bits of kidding around to try to kind of establish some connection with a group ("the Second Amendment people"...not exactly a way of referring to them that shows great familiarity with them...)
Something like:  Well even at that point the gun-rights crowd might still have some recourse nudge nudge ha ha amirite?
That's not a threat.
It's something...but I'm not sure what. An allusion to the use of political violence? More than that? Encouragement possibly. Encouragement at worst, I'd say. But Trump isn't threatening...he's not even talking about his own actions. Nor is he suggesting that he has the power to direct the group in question. He's just saying something jokey about what that group might do. He's not disapproving of it...but it isn't a threat.
It's completely impermissible and nuts...
But I still say that it's not accurate to call it a threat--and not out of any punctiliousness, really.  I just don't think it's a threat.
It's threatening... But I'd say: more in the way that a crazy person walking around near me is threatening. He may not mean to be...he may not have me in his sights...but he's a threat.
What Trump said is a threat in the sense that it's threatening--he's crazy, saying that was one of the strong indicators that a crazy person is near the levers of power...any sane person needs to recognize the threat... But Trump wasn't threatening to kill Clinton, nor to have her killed.
In fact, I had completely failed to notice the other obvious--and, perhaps, better--interpretation: that he's saying that gun-owners might rise up in rebellion. I'm not saying that's better...I'm saying it's a better interpretation...

The real threat to my mind is what comes before the infamous claim: he asserts that Clinton is trying to eliminate/destroy the Second Amendment. This is in line with a general kind of GOP argument through the Obama administration: the Democrat is trying to destroy the country. This is dangerous obviously because it's false...but also because if Clinton were trying to illicitly destroy the Second Amendment, then rebellion would be justified. The GOP has made many arguments over the last eight-or-so years which, if sound, would justify violent action against the government and/or the President. This is, perhaps, the most dangerous thing a political party could do. I'm frankly rather amazed that it hasn't born fruit. They've argued that Obama is intentionally destroying the country. But if a President were intentionally destroying the country, then violent action would be warranted. I guess we can all thank their constituencies' inability to put two and two together...
Anyway, though I continue to think it wasn't a threat, now writing this has made me come to think that it was edging toward something worse: he was coming very close to making an argument for violent revolution. And, of course: an argument based on radically false premises. He's not threatening to kill Clinton, he's arguing that people ought to rise up against the government...when Clinton starts "appointing her judges."  One might argue that there's an implicit conditionalization in there: if they aim to illicitly destroy the Second Amendment...  But that's too much charity by ten times or more...
As others have noted, no matter how charitable we are about this, it shows that Trump can't be allowed anywhere near the Presidency: a lot of hard parsing is required to find some way to interpret his words as not either advocating violent revolution or winking at assassination.
This is a dangerously stupid, dangerously irresponsible, dangerously puerile sonofabitch.
A 15% chance of this person winning the election should send a chill down everyone's spine.


Blogger Aa said...

"if Clinton were trying to illicitly destroy the Second Amendment, then rebellion would be justified."

No, it wouldn't. To do this Congress would have to change by a supermajority the second amendment. Then she would have to sign it, then it would go to the states for ratification.
This is a perfectly legal process by which the Constitution could be amended...and if it happened that way, legally, there is no justifiable grounds for rebellion.

Apologies if I interpreted that part of the post incorrectly.

1:20 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Yeah, I really meant *illicitly*.

1:21 PM  

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