Ballots Not Bullets Coalition Calls for an End to Violent Rhetoric By Politicians and Media
Tuesday, 15 December, 2015
Media Contact: Ladd Everitt, email@example.com, (202) 701-7171
Washington, DC—The Ballots Not Bullets Coalition, a group of organizations from across the country concerned by the increasing use of violence—and threats of violence—to affect public policy in the United States, is calling on political and media elites to tamp down violent, insurrectionist rhetoric in the wake of a series of politically-motivated shootings that have resulted in mass casualties and untold pain and suffering.
While there has rightfully been tremendous attention on the mass shooting that took the lives of 14 innocent victims at a holiday party in San Bernardino, California, the media has sustained far less attention on other horrific and politically-motivated acts of violence in recent weeks:
- On November 25, 2015, Robert Lewis Dear, 59, attacked a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he shot and killed a police officer and two civilians. After his arrest, Dear told law enforcement, “no more baby parts,” a reference to a long-running propaganda campaign by conservative organizations, politicians and media outlets alleging that Planned Parenthood illegally sells baby parts recovered after abortion procedures.
- On November 23, 2015, three white supremacists attacked a Black Lives Matter protest in Minneapolis, Minnesota which was calling attention to the killing of unarmed African-American Jamar Clark by police a week earlier. After yelling “race war” and “Trump 2016,” the men opened fire on BLM protesters, injuring five.
- During the week of November 8, FBI agents arrested Charles Halderman; Ronald Beasley Chaney, Jr.; Ronald B. Chaney III; and Robert C. Doyle of Chesterfield County, Virginia for plotting to attack synagogues and black churches with firearms and explosives. Their hope was to incite a race war. Three of the men have Facebook profiles which contain extensive pro-gun and insurrectionist propaganda. Ronald Chaney, Sr. encouraged his friends to join an anti-government militia, or start one of their own.
Sadly, in the face of such violence, many high-profile political and media elites continue to promote violence and hate, a lethal combination.
Most of the Republican candidates for president have openly embraced an insurrectionist interpretation of the Second Amendment, (wrongly and dangerously) arguing that it provides individuals with the right to engage in armed political violence when they personally believe they are being oppressed. Donald Trump has told audiences that “The Constitution doesn’t create [the Second Amendment] right. It ensures that the government can’t take it away.” Previously, immediately following President Obama’s re-election in 2012, Trump tweeted, “We should have a revolution in this country” and “We should march on Washington and stop this travesty.” Dr. Ben Carson has said that “the real reason that [our Founding Fathers put the Second Amendment in the Constitution] is recognizing that there could come a time when our government itself could go off the rail, and could try to dominate the people, and the people would need a mechanism of defense for themselves.” Texas Senator Ted Cruz sent out a fundraising email in April in which he told his supporters, “The 2nd Amendment to the Constitution isn’t for just protecting hunting rights, and it’s not only to safeguard your right to target practice. It is a Constitutional right to…serve as the ultimate check against governmental tyranny.”
The concept of a “right” to engage in politically-motivated violence is also granted legitimacy on a regular basis by Fox News, which brings in “experts” like Sheriff David Clarke, Jr., Andrew Napolitano, Dick Morris, Eric Rush, and Michael Scheuer to provide a constitutional veneer to this radical idea.
Meanwhile, the same politicians and media are inundating Americans with hate speech on a daily basis, telling them that certain constituencies (e.g., immigrants, refugees, Muslims, African-Americans, women, etc.) are a threat to their “rights” and are to be viewed with hostility, as enemies.
“Political differences and dissent are to be cherished in this country,” said Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center. “Both are central to our democratic process. But our Constitution calls for a peaceful negotiation of those differences, through voting and our courts (among other mechanisms). No American has any ‘right’ to shoot another American when they can’t get their way through the ballot box.”
“We are pleading with our leaders—in politics and media—to think about who might be listening to them on a daily basis,” said Shelley Silbert of Great Old Broads for Wilderness. “Do you really want to be responsible for inspiring the next attack on our law enforcement officers, government employees, or civilians who happen to disagree with you politically? Surely you have the capability to persuade without encouraging violence.”
“Reckless rhetoric that spurs hatred, violence and division—particularly when it makes enemies out of our own neighbors—puts us on a dangerous path,” said Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “There’s plenty of room for vigorous debate in the United States, indeed that’s part of what makes it great. But crossing the line into demonizing entire groups of people and allowing those kinds of words to fester and engender violence has no place in a civilized society.”
Members of the Ballots Not Bullets Coalition are available to talk to the media, to include discussion about how insurrectionist violence is impacting their own advocacy. Contact Ladd Everitt at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 701-7171 with requests.
The Ballots Not Bullets Coalition is a group of organizations that are concerned by the increasing use of violence—and threats of violence—to affect public policy in the United States. The coalition believes that there is no legitimate role for political violence under our Constitution.
[Oregon Wild did not sign onto this Ballots Not Bullets Coalition release.]