The Atlantic’s Andrew Sullivan was on the syndicated Chris Matthews Show today, and he said that the Beck, Palin, Limbaugh and Fox News are calling the government illegitimate, and are committing sedition. Sullivan said, “This is about the moment when America’s divides go right up to calling the government, not wrong, but illegitimate.” Let’s examine the law and see if the right wing is behaving seditiously.
Here is the video courtesy of Media Matters:
This all started with Joe Klein’s comments last week:
Sullivan agreed with Klein and reinforced his point, “I’m more with Joe than I am with the Fox News Republican National Committee coalition machine, sort of this great machine spewing out an alternative reality to reality every minute of the day. Look, dissent is great and important, and I believe, I am free speech absolutist, but this essentially accusing the president, the duly elected president, of being illegitimate and even treasonous, with respect to what the United States is, and it’s important to recognize that is what they are saying. It’s what they believe. Sarah Palin’s little husband was a part of a secessionist movement, there’s been secession movements in the South. This is a replay. You know this is Confederate history month. This is about the moment when America’s divides go right up to calling the government, not wrong, but illegitimate.”
He later blasted the idea that Beck and Limbaugh should be excused because they are entertainers, “Look, I’m tired, I have to say of this notion that someone like Beck and Limbaugh can be excused because they are entertainers, as if that is an excuse for saying substantively what they are saying and for controlling the Republican Party. Look, who in the Republican Party have actually pushed back against Beck or Limbaugh or these other nut cases? I mean, that’s the truth and because there is no resistance in the Republican Party, the Republican Party is Fox News. That’s the head of the Republican Party.”
Here is the definition of sedition according to the US Code:
” If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both. “
Are Beck, Palin, Limbaugh, and Fox News conspiring to overthrow, put down or destroy the US government, or are they electioneering in order to put the Republican Party back in power? My own personal view is that when they start calling for revolution, they are walking the line towards sedition, but by the letter of the law, I don’t think they are engaged in seditious activity. The path they are currently on could easily slip into sedition if they get more extreme and start calling for armed revolution or rebellion.
Kelly O’Donnell had it all wrong though. Beck and Limbaugh should not be simply dismissed as entertainers, because their audiences don’t view them that way. To the people who are loyally devoted to Beck, Limbaugh, Fox News, and Palin, they are trusted sources of information, and in almost every case the only source of information that these individuals turn to. They should not be dismissed. Their misinformation and propaganda should be refuted at every turn. Ignoring them and leave their lies unchallenged will only allow their misinformation to take root.