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Hal Turner convicted

Hal Turner at Nazi rally

This is a follow up to an article I wrote in December of last year, about Hal Turner, white supremacist blogger, radio “shock jock” and erstwhile FBI informant. He was charged with threatening three federal judges on his blog. Threatening a federal official to “influence, impede or retaliate against” is a violation of US Code TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 7 > § 115 (a)(1)(B). Turner was recently convicted of the these charges and could face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

This is what Turner published (along with the names and addresses of the judges):

The tree of liberty must be replenished from time to time with the blood of tyrants and patriots. Let me be the first to say this plainly: These judges must die. Their blood will replenish the tree of liberty.

Threats are not protected speech.

Turner was perhaps better known for his threats of some unspecified mass violence during the Obama inauguration, but he also claimed that Democratic (sic) governor Lingle of Hawaii was covering up the fact that Obama is ineligible to be president. Turner wrote in 2008:

Obama is a Democrat. He was born in Kenya and is thus ineligible to be President of the United States.

Turner’s various web sites have been turned off by his providers for obvious reasons. Some older archives of his sites are available at archive.org.

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15 Responses to Hal Turner convicted

  1. avatar
    Arthur September 6, 2010 at 3:27 pm #

    I had not heard of Hal Turner before reading this article. I found the links provided by Dr. C. to be informative but perplexing. On more than one occasion, Turner was arrested for threatening and/or inciting violence against public officials, including three federal judges. Why then are birther websites that advocate violence against Congress, the Supreme Court, and the President allowed to operate with impunity? If threats of violence are not protected speech, why hasn’t the FBI advised these websites to moderate the violent rhetoric that so often appears there?

  2. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy September 6, 2010 at 3:34 pm #

    Arthur: If threats of violence are not protected speech, why hasn’t the FBI advised these websites to moderate the violent rhetoric that so often appears there?

    I cannot speak to the general case, but there is a specific statute against threatening federal judges. The purpose of my article was to make this incident more widely known

  3. avatar
    Rickey September 6, 2010 at 3:51 pm #

    And the difference here is the specificity of Turner’s threats. He named the judges and posted their addresses, and he also published photographs of them.

    The calls for blood on the birther websites are more generalized.

  4. avatar
    Bovril September 6, 2010 at 4:48 pm #

    The difference lies between bitching/venting and providing concrete support or direction.

    The rabid and racist Birfer is in general a dishevelled in body and mind bigotted fuckwit that, whilst unpleasant, even reprehensible is not illegal.

  5. avatar
    Obsolete September 6, 2010 at 4:57 pm #

    But some birthers have come very close to crossing that line…
    (hi James!)

  6. avatar
    Northland10 September 6, 2010 at 6:40 pm #

    Rickey: And the difference here is the specificity of Turner’s threats. He named the judges and posted their addresses, and he also published photographs of them.

    The threats to Judge Joan Lefkow by white supremacist, Matthew Hale, and the murder of her husband and parents, though not involving Hale or his followers, has likely left authorities with a much lest tolerance for actions from Turner and his ilk. He had made slightly similar threats to Lefkow after Hale lost a trademark case (in appeals).

    The irony of the whole situation was Turner found it necessary to threaten the judges (1 Ford appointing with the other 2 Reagan) who were, as best as I understand it, punting the issue to the Supreme Court since their hands were somewhat tied. MacDonald v. Chicago was eventually reversed by the Supreme Court. It would appear that Turner has the same lack of patience as the birthers.

  7. avatar
    Arthur September 6, 2010 at 6:46 pm #

    Thanks, Rickey, for pointing out why Turner’s actions involving the judges was extraordinary, but there’s still something I don’t understand.
    The Wikipedia entry on Turner says, “On June 3, 2009, Turner was arrested and charged with inciting injury to two politicians in Connecticut and a state ethics official.[38] The warrant issued was for inciting his website’s readers to “take up arms” against the officials.” So why would inciting injury against Connecticut politicians lead to arrest? Perhaps, as in the case with the federal judges, he was dangerously explicit in his threats?

  8. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy September 6, 2010 at 9:05 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy: I cannot speak to the general case, but there is a specific statute against threatening federal judges. The purpose of my article was to make this incident more widely known

    The statue is here, and applies to federal officials in general.

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/uscode18/usc_sec_18_00000115—-000-.html

  9. avatar
    Arthur September 6, 2010 at 9:50 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    The statue is here, and applies to federal officials in general.http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/uscode18/usc_sec_18_00000115—-000-.html

    Thanks for the additional information.

  10. avatar
    Rickey September 6, 2010 at 11:20 pm #

    Northland10:

    The irony of the whole situation was Turner found it necessary to threaten the judges (1 Ford appointing with the other 2 Reagan) who were, as best as I understand it, punting the issue to the Supreme Court since their hands were somewhat tied.MacDonald v. Chicago was eventually reversed by the Supreme Court.It would appear that Turner has the same lack of patience as the birthers.

    A conservative guy I know on Facebook was upset at a Federal judge who ruled last week that a Nebraska law against flag-burning is unconstitutional. I pointed out to him and others that the judge had no choice but to apply settled law (per at least two SCOTUS rulings) that flag-burning is protected speech.

    The irony there is that Justice Scalia voted with the majority in both of the flag-burning cases, and Justice Stevens dissented in both.

  11. avatar
    Rickey September 6, 2010 at 11:33 pm #

    Arthur: So why would inciting injury against Connecticut politicians lead to arrest?

    The news story says that he was arrested by Connecticut State Police, so I assume that he was charged under a Connecticut statute. I don’t know what Connecticut’s threshold for threats is.

    http://articles.courant.com/2009-06-04/news/hc-turner-arrest.artjun04_1_radio-host-hal-turner-beastly-government-officials-state-ethics-office

  12. avatar
    Sean September 6, 2010 at 11:53 pm #

    I’m a little confused. Hal Turner wants to be a Neo-Nazi White Supremacist, but he doesn’t want to be labeled a Neo-Nazi White Supremacist?

    Is he or is he not a Nazi?

  13. avatar
    Paul Pieniezny September 7, 2010 at 8:13 am #

    Sean: Is he or is he not a Nazi?

    And if he were ever asked that question officially (‘Are you, or have you ever been …”), he would plead the fifth.

    “If your interpretation of a butterfly at rest brought any money into the coffers of the Nazi Party, you contributed directly to the propaganda effort of the Nazi Party.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_Un-American_Activities_Committee

    The irony of it!

  14. avatar
    Sean September 7, 2010 at 11:59 am #

    Hal can certainly be a Nazi, for that matter a White supremacist. There’s nothing illegal about that. But is he proud or ashamed of it?

  15. avatar
    US Citizen September 8, 2010 at 5:16 am #

    Sean: Hal can certainly be a Nazi, for that matter a White supremacist.There’s nothing illegal about that.But is he proud or ashamed of it?

    I don’t think there’s a lot of apologetic neo-Nazis.
    Hal is far too proactive to be ashamed.