A Santa Rosa Junior College instructor told students to send e-mail to an elected official with the phrase “kill the president, kill the president”. One student sent the death threat to a congressman, who sent it to the Capitol Police, who called in the Secret Service. The SF Chronicle reports:
Michael Ballou, a part-time lecturer who teaches an “Introduction to U.S. Government” course at the college’s Petaluma campus, intended the assignment to be an “experiential exercise that would instill a sense of fear so they would have a better sense of why more people don’t participate in the political process,” said Doug Garrison, the vice president and executive dean of the Petaluma campus.
So, threatening to kill the president is part of the political process? I thought assassination was outside the process, while participating means voting, circulating petitions, supporting candidates, marching to oppose or support government policies, running for office . . . It’s not really all that scary.
Notice, also, that the instructor doesn’t want to teach students to think about political participation. He wants instill a particular feeling.
In the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Ballou dithers over whether it was an assignment or not.
In a brief interview outside his classroom at the college’s Petaluma campus, Ballou called the federal investigation of his assignment “farcical” and the result of a “growing police state.”
. . . Ballou said the goal of the exercise was to get students to think about what could happen if they did send the e-mail or make such a statement.
“Just the act of saying that and knowing your e-mail could be tapped and your phone listened to, you get a wave of fear over you and you realize we’re actually afraid of our own government,” he said.
“The reaction really validated his point,” one bozo student says.
Yes, if you threaten to kill the president — which is a felony — you may have to fear the government will investigate. Are there no examples of government snooping on people who aren’t criminal suspects?