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Letters to the Editor

Cat scratch killing

Brandon Wertz May 9th, 2012

Ted Nugent’s recent comments at the National Rifle Association convention regarding President Obama (Chicken- Fried News, “Redneck rhapsody,” April 25, Oklahoma Gazette) have raised a valid question: At what point does a person’s free speech make him or her culpable in a murder?

Not only did Ted publicly say he’d be dead or in jail by this time next year if Obama were re-elected, he also said, “We are patriots. We are bravehearts. We need to ride into that battlefield and chop their heads off in November!” Any sane individual knows that this is hyperbole, but my concern is theless-than-sane people who interpret his words literally instead of figuratively.

The presumption that those of the opposing party need to feel threatened by merely performing a democratic act is illustrative of an individual who doesn’t actually believe in the democratic process. After all, isn’t voter oppression a tactic used by those we consider morally bankrupt?

While Ted thinks himself a patriot, one cannot wish ill will on his or her countrymen and be considered a patriot. I personally do not wish him dead, nor do I wish to infringe on his or anyone’s ability to vote by inciting harm against them. I would hope that if a liberal of equal notoriety said such provocative things, the opposition would be just as ill-at-ease about such statements.

If a person hates our president or an opposing party, that’s fine by me. But at what point do we draw the line between freedom of speech and encouraging violence? If Ted flat out tells his fans (without hyperbole) to go murder, when is he held accountable for the actions of those who’d carry out his request?

What concerns me is how public figures make incendiary comments just for the publicity. Ted was already at the NRA convention, so it’s a forgone conclusion that such vitriol was completely unnecessary. He could have said something much more benign like, “Come November we’re going to take back our country one vote at a time.” Instead we heard about beheadings.

Additionally disconcerting is the fact that Nugent has previously been compensated generously for speaking on behalf of the NRA. So it begs the question: Which of those words are even Ted’s, and which were the words of the NRA?

Lastly, I am compelled to point out that convicted felons are barred from voting; something to think about for those intent on perpetrating violence for political gain.

—Brandon Wertz Oklahoma City

Opinions expressed on the commentary page, in letters to the editor and elsewhere in this newspaper are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ownership or management.

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