Dozens of Trump supporters remain jailed in solitary confinement in Washington, DC. They are still routinely being denied direct access to legal counsel. They don’t have niceties like soap or toilet paper in their cells. They have to filter their water through their socks, in hopes that it won’t sicken them when they drink it. The media, the Democrat Party and many weak-willed elected Republicans have accused these people of the worst sort of crime: Insurrection. Yet nine months later, not a single person has been charged with “insurrection.” All we’ve seen so far are charges of misdemeanor trespassing, and briefly interrupting a meeting of the US Senate. And here’s a new one: “Pugnacious rhetoric.” Oh, dear me! Not pugnacious rhetoric!
US District Judge James Boasberg – an Obama appointee – sentenced one of the dangerous “insurrectionists” for his horrible crimes last week. Andrew Bennett was accused of driving from his home in Maryland to DC and then… calmly and peacefully walking into the US Capitol with a group of other likeminded people while not hurting anyone or breaking anything. To get the whole ordeal over with, Bennett pleaded guilty to a charge of misdemeanor trespassing.
Boasberg threw the book at Bennett, giving him the absolute maximum sentence that the law allows: Three months’ home confinement. Boasberg also took the time to scold Bennett for using “pugnacious rhetoric” while talking about the federal government in the run-up to the January 6 protest.
Fortunately for Andrew Bennett and the rest of us, pugnacious rhetoric is not actually a federal crime. It’s the opposite. You might recognize it by a couple of different terms that are used to describe pugnacious rhetoric: One is “free speech.” The other is “mean tweets.”
I’m rather a fan of pugnacious rhetoric. It has been used a lot over the years, even in presidential elections.
During the 1800 election between two dueling Founding Fathers – Thomas Jefferson and John Adams – the campaign got ugly. Jefferson paid a newspaper publisher to write that John Adams was “a hideous hermaphroditical character which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman.”
The mainstream media hated Republican President Ulysses S. Grant (no surprise there). In 1868, the Detroit Free Press referred to Grant as “a man of vile habits, and no ideas;” “a twaddler and trimmer;” and “as brainless as his saddle.” The Cleveland Enquirer referred to Grant as “a drunken trowser-maker.” I’m not even sure what that means, but it’s definitely pugnacious rhetoric.
Lewis Cass was the Democrat candidate who lost to Zachary Taylor in 1848. The legendary newspaper publisher Horace Greeley referred to the losing candidate as “that pot-bellied, mutton-headed, cucumber-soled Cass.” It’s hard to imagine how America has lasted so long, with pugnacious rhetoric like that floating around. Cucumber-soled?
It’s too bad that a staunch liberal like Judge Boasberg can’t just come out and say what he really means: He hates the January 6 protesters because they frightened and embarrassed the elites with their free speech opinions about the 2020 election. Like all good liberals, Boasberg would love to strip away the free speech rights from people who disagree with his political party. But he can’t say that out loud, so he accused Andrew Bennett of “pugnacious rhetoric.”
Another rioter, Danielle Doyle, was sentenced to three months’ probation on a misdemeanor trespassing charge last week. US District Court Judge Trevor McFadden, a Trump appointee, was presiding over her case. Instead of lecturing Ms. Doyle about any pugnacious rhetoric she might have used, Judge McFadden lit into the prosecutors:
“I think the U.S. attorney would have more credibility if it was even-handed in its concern about riots and mobs in this city.”
Ouch! I think he said the quiet part out loud there. No reasonable person could look at the Trump supporters locked in solitary confinement for nine months straight and think that this is equal application of the law. Nobody even went to jail last year when Black Lives Matter was burning churches and businesses to the ground in Washington, DC. The Justice Department didn’t use “shock and awe” tactics on BLM rioters. They didn’t use facial recognition software on social media channels to identify the perpetrators. They didn’t conduct pre-dawn raids with armored vehicles and SWAT teams at the homes of single moms who went to those protests.
The good news is that there’s only so much that a judge can do when sentencing someone for a misdemeanor trespassing charge, no matter how much they dislike a defendant’s pugnacious rhetoric. Two months’ home confinement, three months’ probation. That’s pretty weak, considering these Trump supporters were branded “insurrectionists.”