By Stephen Owsinski:
In a post-9/11 era, you’d think everyone would be on the same page, and have the decency to not only refrain from terroristic statements, but to bring resolution instead. In public via an open mic, on stage, to a crowd of spectators and a vast cadre of media entities, a notorious crooner opted for gross irresponsibility and crossed the legal line. The evidence is there and it is clear: Madonna issued terroristic threats against our nation’s presidential icon, the White House, declaring her ideations to blow it to smithereens.
“I thought about blowing up the White House” were her exact words. “She should be arrested immediately,” were my exact words.
Even my kin and friends, some of whom are not exactly Trump supporters, agreed on Madonna’s egregious and callous display, using her fame to garner the spotlight. That same spotlight was the impetus to unloose some unsavory words—nothing unusual for this “pop star.” Nevertheless, direct threats were slung like stringy saliva from a rambunctious bulldog’s snout.
She paused. She seemed introspective. Then she followed with some verbiage regarding “revolution” piggybacked by nuances of “love.” Perhaps all those years in pop culture have crushed too many brain cells. In any event, nasty and life-threatening words wafted the cool, gray air in D.C. that day.
Freedom of Speech Only Goes So Far
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution delineates “freedom of speech.” It’s not been an easy task for the U.S. Supreme Court to decipher issues which came before the bench, and ample material exists to discern how the Courts use a yardstick to measure what is permissible and what is not.
In Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15 (1971), it was declared legal to use certain offensive words and catchphrases to project political messages in public context. Does openly stating the words “I thought about blowing up the White House” fall under this case precedent?
Conversely, in an almost one-hundred-year-old case, SCOTUS declared in Schenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47 (1919) that it is illegal to incite actions to harm others (exemplified by shouting “Fire!” in a crowded movie theatre when no fire exists).
Since the White House is in no way a deflated balloon, the only definable, contextual meaning is a bomb blast, always construed to suggest a disproportional amount of destruction.
Perhaps a quicker way to pick at the root of this Madonna matter is comparing it to anyone making any statements at any airport in which the words “bomb” or “blowing up” are uttered. And, no, “just joking” does not qualify anyone for a “Get Out of Jail Free” card.
A bulging petition to hold her accountable and effectively arrest Madonna is flourishing on thepetitionsite.com. In her since-disabled Instagram account, upon which she tried to somehow qualify her terroristic threats, she stated: “I am not a violent person, I do not promote violence and it’s important people hear and understand my speech in its entirety rather than one phrase taken wildly out of context.” Gee, how silly of anyone to misconstrue Miss Madonna’s words. Her Instagram retort wreaks of someone quaking with the thought of lawmen who may come knockin’. Rightly so.
The Wrath of Federal Agents
Happy that she provided directly incriminating evidence, I’d swarm down on Miss Madonna like bees on a hive, armed with the sting of an arrest warrant. Immediately following the Women’s March, at which Madonna spoke those petulant words, the U.S. Secret Service—protectors of the U.S. President and the White House—announced an investigation pertaining to her destruction-based remarks.
Call it domestic terrorism, call it stupidity, call it for what it is. For blatantly making terroristic threats against the U.S. president, Madonna’s oratorical torpedoes deserve attention, the full wrath of federal law enforcement, and a full boat of justice.
When over-inflated egos get in the way of reasonableness, statutes are our applicable tools to right wrongs. Whether you voted for President Trump or not, he remains our officially elected president– and no one gets to lash out at our nation’s governmental hub by using terroristic threats with impunity. Because of the compulsion to pick a bone, Madonna chose a criminal mindset and publicized her thoughts.
A Texas-based pop-hits radio station announced it will no longer air any songs by Madonna, labeling her terroristic threats “unpatriotic” and, therefore, unaligned with the broadcast station’s principles. At the heart of that are royalties paid to the crooner each time one of her tunes is aired. Hit them in the purse, where it hurts? I suppose she is hurting more intellectually and judgmentally than financially.
This famed figurehead used her influence to incite absolute violence and terror, unequivocally against federal codes and a direct threat to many lives. I’d rather not give her the time of day, only the moments it takes to arrest and prosecute her as the principles of Lady Justice allow.
The bulls-eye to hit is square in the center of criminal intentions, and there is no escaping the spoken ideations of “blowing up the White House.” Although the First Amendment also affords the right to peaceably assemble, where is there any grain of “peace” in assembling and boldly threatening to use explosives and inflict inherent carnage?
Remove the cigar from her foul-mouthed lips and click-click those justice-based bracelets!
Stephen Owsinski is a Senior OpsLens Contributor and retired law enforcement officer whose career included assignments in the Uniformed Patrol Division and Field Training Officer (FTO) unit. He is currently a researcher and writer.
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