Bachmann-Hannity ‘revolution’ breaks the law
On Wednesday, Michele Bachmann, the Republican congresswoman from east-central Minnesota, called for an “orderly” revolution in America on Sean Hannity’s widely syndicated radio program.
While I confess that I have no idea what an “orderly” revolution looks like (maybe something akin to a bloodless coup) and no concept of what Rep. Bachmann and Mr. Hannity have in mind for our new and improved government, I do think it is reasonably possible that both committed a felony.
5USC Sec. 7313 reads, in part:
Sec. 7313. Riots and civil disorders
(a) An individual convicted by any Federal, State, or local court of competent jurisdiction of –
(1) inciting a riot or civil disorder;
(2) organizing, promoting, encouraging, or participating in a riot or civil disorder;
(3) aiding or abetting any person in committing any offense specified in clause (1) or (2);
shall, if the offense for which he is convicted is a felony, be ineligible to accept or hold any position in the Government of the United States or in the government of the District of Columbia for the five years immediately following the date upon which his conviction becomes final. Any such individual holding a position in the Government of the United States or the government of the District of Columbia on the date his conviction becomes final shall be removed from such position.
(b) For the purposes of this section, “felony” means any offense for which imprisonment is authorized for a term exceeding one year.
Thus, if Ms. Bachmann and Mr. Hannity were found to have promoted and encouraged civil disorder, they would not only be guilty of a felony, but Ms. Bachmann would be barred from public office for a period of five years.
So far, there has been no movement towards indicting one or both of these potential offenders. I suppose the Attorney General is reluctant to make Hannity an even larger conservative hero just as he might consider it bad politics to charge a member of the House. But it must be asked, are Hannity and Bachmann too big to fall?
Had a Muslim Cleric appeared on a nationally syndicated radio program and said the very same thing, would it be so quickly dismissed? Why is it fine for this sort of thing to come out of the mouth of a member of Congress, even if she is of questionable mental stability, when the same thing would be taken very seriously when spoken by another?
And what about the radio stations who aired this remarkable conversation?
The radio airwaves, which belong to the people and are regulated by the FCC, may not be used to utter obscene or indecent language. So, while the owners of these stations can lose their license for too many bad words being uttered over the air, are we to believe that they are permitted to promote revolution against the American government without their putting their licenses in jeopardy?
I, for one, intend to find out.
The overwhelming majority of radio stations who ran this broadcast had the opportunity to review, prior to airing, Bachmann’s statements and Hannity’s participatory agreement. Yet, I have not heard of one station whom elected not to broadcast the show, despite the extraordinary comments contained in the program.
I strongly suspect that this would not be protected by the First Amendment any more than yelling fire in a crowded theater is protected.
If there are any lawyers out there who care to join me in challenging the licenses of the offending broadcasters along with the syndication company who distributes Hannity’s program, let me know.
I really don’t think that this sort of thing should just get a pass.
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