Let’s stop the bullshit.
In the past week, right-wing outlets have
lied grossly distorted an Oct. 4 order by Attorney General Merrick Garland.
The distortion is so widespread it is hardly accidental.
The Big Lie Is that the Department of Justice will sic the FBI on parents protesting school board policies they don’t like, such as critical race theory.
The order does not say that, and portraying it in a false light is nothing but fear mongering.
So you can judge for yourself, I will do what some of your favorite outlets will not do: Let you read it for yourself. I have boldfaced the key phrases. Here it is, I will resume my commentary on the other side:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, October 4, 2021
Justice Department Addresses Violent Threats Against School Officials and Teachers
Citing an increase in harassment, intimidation and threats of violence against school board members, teachers and workers in our nation’s public schools, today Attorney General Merrick B. Garland directed the FBI and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices to meet in the next 30 days with federal, state, Tribal, territorial and local law enforcement leaders to discuss strategies for addressing this disturbing trend. These sessions will open dedicated lines of communication for threat reporting, assessment and response by law enforcement.
“Threats against public servants are not only illegal, they run counter to our nation’s core values,” wrote Attorney General Garland. “Those who dedicate their time and energy to ensuring that our children receive a proper education in a safe environment deserve to be able to do their work without fear for their safety.”
According to the Attorney General’s memorandum, the Justice Department will launch a series of additional efforts in the coming days designed to address the rise in criminal conduct directed toward school personnel. Those efforts are expected to include the creation of a task force, consisting of representatives from the department’s Criminal Division, National Security Division, Civil Rights Division, the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, the FBI, the Community Relations Service and the Office of Justice Programs, to determine how federal enforcement tools can be used to prosecute these crimes, and ways to assist state, Tribal, territorial and local law enforcement where threats of violence may not constitute federal crimes.
The Justice Department will also create specialized training and guidance for local school boards and school administrators. This training will help school board members and other potential victims understand the type of behavior that constitutes threats, how to report threatening conduct to the appropriate law enforcement agencies, and how to capture and preserve evidence of threatening conduct to aid in the investigation and prosecution of these crimes.
Threats of violence against school board members, officials, and workers in our nation’s public schools can be reported by the public to the FBI’s National Threat Operations Center (NTOC) via its national tip line (1-800-CALL-FBI) and online through the FBI website (http://fbi.gov/tips). To ensure that threats are communicated to the appropriate authorities, NTOC will direct credible threats to FBI field offices, for coordination with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and law enforcement partners as appropriate. Reporting threats of violence through NTOC will help the federal government identify increased threats in specific jurisdictions as well as coordinated widespread efforts to intimidate educators and education workers.
There is nothing in this that compromises freedom of speech, and I would be the first to arise screaming if it did.
You are free to argue with school board members, you are free to call them names, you are free to say you will oppose and vote against them, you are free to raise your voice.
But, as is true with freedom of speech, you are not free to threaten them with bodily harm. That is never protected and all of us should condemn that.
Now, since I am a part-time carnival mind reader, I can hear some of you saying, “Oh, sure, that’s what Garland is saying, but that’s not what he means.”
Of course, that’s what is often said about any law ever written — it’s not what it means.
My answer: Let’s see what he does. If the FBI starts arresting moms making PB&J sandwiches in their kitchens, I’ll grab my pitchfork and join you on the battle lines.
Until then, don’t believe the bullshit. And ask yourself what kind of people have an interest in fear mongering.