A federal appeals court has ruled that criminal charges can apply to a Bay Area man who emailed Mitch McConnell saying “the resistance is coming to DC to slash your throat,” and “You will die in the street,” along with some other choice profanities.
In our contemporary age of the increasing normalization of death threats to politicians, one death threat tactic is to couch the threat in vague terms of “I didn't say I was going to do it, I just said it was going to happen.” That provides plausible deniability to the person lodging the death threat. But a U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Monday that doesn’t really work anymore, ruling against a Bay Area man who, according to the Chronicle, wrote to then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, “the resistance is coming to DC to slash your throat."
The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 3-0 against that man, Bay Area resident Howard Weiss, and we'll get into the legal ramifications. But first, let’s review a treasury of Weiss’ threatening statements (NOTE: They’re graphic!).
If you push this for Friday, the resistance is coming to DC to slash your throat. You will die in thestreet [sic] by DC resistance motherfucker!!!!!
You will not live to regret it!!!!!!
Three weeks later in 2018, Weiss emailed McConnell’s office from the address "[email protected]” with this to say:
turtle cum drinker, The yelling resistance should have put a bullet in your head and then kill all the people you love!
The case has multiple other threats, we’re not going list them all, but one final curiosity from June 5, 2019:
Go fuck yourself you fucking criminal motherfucker. In 2020, You are fucking a closed case. You are a fucking dog who will be put down!!!
The Kentucky Resistance is going to hang you by your pussy lips and punish you for what you think you got away this [sic]. Your consequential decision will afford you the most torture you will ever endure. scalia was the biggest asshole in the judicial system ever.
Weiss is the manner of fellow who uses the phrases “You motherfucking racist scum” and “your gook wife” in the same sentence, but U.S. District Court judge Charles Breyer ruled last year these were not direct death threats. The appeals court just overruled him.
“Although Weiss 'did not explicitly indicate that he was going to kill,'" the appeals court ruled, “ he associated the sender of the message with the ‘Resistance’ through the email address he provided. Weiss’s message was likely to engender a ‘fear of violence’ by describing when and how the threat would be carried out.”
This does not mean Weiss will be prosecuted for the threats, it merely allows a criminal case against him to move forward. And given how many January 6 insurrectionists have been charged, the Justice Department may be keen to find some political balance in its prosecutions.
Image: @McConnellPress via C-Span