We Must Say No To All Forms Of Criminal Incitement

I read an interesting article that stated that “Some 20,000 Israelis have sued Internet giant Facebook in New York alleging the social media platform is disregarding incitement and calls to murder Jews being posted by Palestinians.”

I agree with the Israelis’ basic position on this matter; however, charges of incitement cannot be selectively driven. It appears that some laws regarding incitement are too weak and seemly are not enforced equally in ways required to protect the rights of all individuals or groups.

When I read this article, I immediately thought of the horrendous and inhumane levels of incitement that have been leveled against President Obama and the First Family. Some so-called right-wing groups and even some mainstream Republicans, Presidential Candidates included, have uttered insults and malicious speech that rise to the level of incitement. The term for this action by politicians is called Dog Whistle Politics; which is a type of political speech that uses inflammatory Racialized Coded Language to attack mainly people of color.

Individuals of groups must be prosecuted if it is shown that they were aware that there was at least a possibility that their words/communication would influence the mind of another in a way that would lead to the commission of a crime. Comments made by FBI Director James B. Comey and Government Chris Christi regarding the so-call ‘Ferguson effect’, stating that “police officers in major cities have pulled back from enforcing the law out of concern they will come under fire for using harsh tactics” could rise to the level of criminal of incitement. As President Obama stated; since there is no empirical evidence to support Comey or Christi’s claims.

In reality, the massive protest in Ferguson that resulted from the death of Michael Brown, an African-American teenager, uncovered systematic discrimination by the Ferguson and surrounding  police forces. In fact, the Ferguson situation prompted a series of tough new Court and Justice Department reforms.

Freedom of speech is a fundamental right recognized in international law; however, a balance must be maintained to protect others rights. FBI Director Comey and Governor Christi must understand that they have an obligation under the law to prohibit speech that Incite racial, religious, or ethnic hatred. They have to be careful that their Coded Racial Appeals in support of police officers might lead to over-policing and excessive violence, which is a crime under the law and has no place in the American or global discourse.