Right Wingers Use Biblical Verse To Advocate Assassination of President

Right wingers who hate Obama have come up with a subtle way to advocate killing the president in public. The Christian Science Monitor reports:

There’s a new slogan making its way onto car bumpers and across the Internet. It reads simply: “Pray for Obama: Psalm 109:8”

A nice sentiment?

Maybe not.

The psalm reads, “Let his days be few; and let another take his office.”

Presidential criticism through witty slogans is nothing new. Bumper stickers, t-shirts, and hats with “1/20/09” commemorated President Bush’s last day in office.

But the verse immediately following the psalm referenced is a bit more ominous: “Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.”

The slogan comes at a time of heightened concern about antigovernment anger. Earlier this year, the president’s senior adviser, David Axelrod, said that Tea Parties could lead to something unhealthy. In September, authorities shut down a poll on Facebook asking if President Obama should be killed.

Still, that doesn’t push the Psalms citation into the realm of hate speech, says Chris Hansen, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

The use of Psalm 109:8 is ambiguous as to whether its users are calling for the President to serve “only one term, or less than one term,” he says.

Deborah Lauter, director of civil rights at the Anti-Defamation League agrees that the bumper sticker falls within acceptable political discourse.

For it to be considered hate speech, it “would advocate actual violence or cite scripture that was more clear in its message.”

But that doesn’t mean that it’s completely innocent.

Disgusting but clever. No civil liberties organization would tolerate suppressing someone’s right to quote their religious views (despite the occasional claim from Republicans that Democrats want to take away their Bibles). This just might be as close as is possible to publicly call for the assassination of the president and avoid a visit from the Secret Service.

Update: Cafe Press has decided to stop sales of this merchandise.

Be Sociable, Share!

18 Comments

  1. 1
    Leslie Parsley says:

    This is so scary it makes me shudder. I noted it on my blog with a link to yours.

  2. 2
    Mike Hatcher b.t.r.m. says:

    Ron-Stoking the flames of fear and hate are you?  Have you considered a career in talk radio?

  3. 3
    Ron Chusid says:

    Mike,

    You really don’t get it? It is the right wingers (including many who listen to talk radio) who are stoking the flames of fear and hate with such thinly veiled talk of killing the president.

  4. 4
    Mike Hatcher b.t.r.m. says:

    I’m agreeing with you as far as right wing talk radio constantly saying things inflammatory, making mountains out of mole hills, and radio hosts be it true conviction or just technique to get ratings, saying things to invoke fear or anger.  Believe me, I know all about that.  I’m saying that although you may not do it all the time, when you take someone’s joke about wanting Obama out of office and exaggerate it to saying they want him assasinated,  you are doing the same thing.    The article also demonstrates the backwards thinking that you so frequently ascribe to the other side.  One starts with the conclusion that right wingers are vicious racists that want Obama dead, then you work backwards to the facts of the play on the Bible text and fit them to the conclusion you already had.   I’m not trying to throw stones, I often do that myself, I’m just showing you the similarity you have with us right wingers.

  5. 5
    Ron Chusid says:

    Mike,

    When it gets to “Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow” we are talking about assassination, not just wanting Obama out of office.

    This comes at a time when the Secret Service is reporting a tremendous increase in death threats.

    There’s no similarity what so ever between citing this article and right wingers.

  6. 6
    Leslie Parsley says:

    ” when you take someone’s joke”

    Joke? I don’t think so. These are the same people who carry signs with pictures of dead Holocause victims comparing the President and his administration to Hitler and the Nazis. There is NO comparison and neither are they the least bit funny.

    These people ARE racist. They ARE sick and twisted with hate, just as the Nazis were with the Jews. If I had the money I’d gladly pay for a psychological profile of the wingers, although I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to analyze them.

  7. 7
    Eclectic Radical says:

    ‘One starts with the conclusion that right wingers are vicious racists that want Obama dead, then you work backwards to the facts of the play on the Bible text and fit them to the conclusion you already had. ‘
     
    Mike, this is not necessarily a correct statement. The specific verse quoted is part of a longer stanza in Psalms about the execution of an official for corruption. The verse itself, taken and quoted out of context, can be explained away in relatively innocuous political polemic. However, if one puts the verse into its correct context, it is part of a poem saying someone deserves to die.
     
    That’s not ‘working backward’ from any conclusion. That’s a fact-based analysis of the text from which the reference is lifted.
     
    It actually would not surprise me if the quote was taken out of context without a full analysis of the text from which it was lifted. Nor would it surprise me if the majority of the people purchasing such a bumper sticker or t-shirt were entirely ignorant of the verse following the one referenced.
     
    It doesn’t change the fact that, using a purely fact based analysis of the text referenced, one does not need to work backwards from any particular conclusion in order to find this specific reference right on the edge of advocating assassination.
     

  8. 8
    Mike Hatcher b.t.r.m. says:

    @Ron, afte r defending Letterman’s joke at great length when Palin tried to make it more sinister than it actually was, you’re doing the opposite here.  Citing Bible text conventions are well known, if one means the whole Chapter you don’t mention a verse, if you mean multiple verses you would write something like Psalm 109: 7-11.  Your expanded reference is distorting this.  Even if the writer really meant more than what the writer wrote, fatherlessness could come about by any number of ways, like Wanda Sikes wishing Limbaugh’s kidneys to fail is not the same as advocating violence against him. To say assasination is the method being advocated, even in the baseless expanded chapter theory is also wrong.  
    @Leslie-If you already knew the people that generated this are sick and twisted with hate like Nazis, how does this Bible verse bring you fear you didn’t already have? Isn’t this a conclusion you had about them before the reference to Psalm 109:8 or is this a new revelation to you?
    @Electic- Thanks for at least considering some people would see it for what it is.  Did you hear that Acts 2:1 advocates Japanese cars?  Yeah, the Christians at Pentacost were all “in one Accord.”  No doubt some will expand my meaning and say the chapter also mentions fire ,ergo I must be advocating arson.

  9. 9
    Ron Chusid says:

    Mike,

    Again you make bogus arguments by trying to tie together things which have no similarity.

    There is absolutely no comparison here between the Letterman joke and this. The Letterman joke was distorted by right wingers who claimed the joke was about something totally different than the joke was actually about.

    In this case right wingers are slipping something by–the fact that the manner in which this Psalm wants Obama to be out of office is by death. Expanding the reference is not distorting–it is placing it the verse’s full context.

    It is certainly possible that many people do not know the full context when buying products with this. That is one reason they can get away with this. However, once the full context is presented it becomes questionable how anyone could defend this.

    This is also in no way analogous to you quotation of “in one Accord.” To claim this advocates Japanese cars is not analogous to those who object to the Psalm quoted here. It is actually a better example of the type of distortions commonly used by conservatives in quoting the word “accord” but claiming a different meaning for it than intended. In this case you are clearly not serious, but in other cases conservatives do base their arguments based upon applying different meanings of words than intended. For example, see how they distorted the use of “trick” in scientific emails in the recent post on climate change. (In that case “trick” is used by scientists to mean a clever way to solve a problem. Conservatives are quoting it out of context to support their belief that scientists are trying to trick people (in the more common use of the word).

  10. 10
    Leslie Parsley says:

    The Bible verse doesn’t bring me fear as much as the people who are using it out of context and who are, in my opinion, advocating assassination.

  11. 11
    Eclectic Radical says:

    ‘Thanks for at least considering some people would see it for what it is.  Did you hear that Acts 2:1 advocates Japanese cars?  Yeah, the Christians at Pentacost were all “in one Accord.”  No doubt some will expand my meaning and say the chapter also mentions fire ,ergo I must be advocating arson.’
     
    Mike, you’re doing it again. In your zeal to prove someone else is going too far, you’re making a completely ridiculous comparison that has nothing to do with your point and is an entirely false equivalence.
     
    The joke about Pentecost is a well known cultural trope making use of a silly pun. The full Biblical passage quoted in this case is about the literal execution of a corrupt official. There is a significant difference between a silly pun and a literal passage about the killing of a public figure.
     

  12. 12
    Eclectic Radical says:

    And Mike…
     
    There is only one way a ‘wife’ can become a ‘widow.’
    And it’s really a weak argument to ignore that while trying to open up other possibilities for another portion of the same verse.
     

  13. 13
    Mike Hatcher b.t.r.m. says:

    @Ron, comparisons aside, when one references a single verse, it means just that, a single verse.  You don’t have to take my word for it, ask someone you trust that knows about biblical citation conventions.
    @ Electic- Yes, the only way you can have a widow is for the husband to be dead, but I was arguing that assasination is not the only way someone can die, even when one falsely changes the scope of a biblical reference to the whole chapter in this case, there is nothing in the whole chapter that advocates death by assasination as opposed to death by other means such as natural causes.
    @Leslie- I don’t see why you find this as you said: “so scary”. In that it seems to me you already were convinced, through other evidence/references you cite that right wingers thought and felt that way.   The Psalmist who wrote this thousands of years ago obviously wasn’t writing about Obama, I don’t think the original context refers to any assasination either, I see a single text ripped out of context just come up with a punch line: Pray for Obama to be out of office.  I doubt from the responses I’m going to convince any of you three it was only that so I won’t waste any more of Ron’s bandwith arguing about it.  @Ron, I do thank you for letting me post my opposing views, however absurd you find my logic.   I take no offense when you sometimes refer to people like me living in a fantasy world, because I find on some issues so little in common with what you consider reality.

  14. 14
    Ron Chusid says:

    Mike,

    Even if you are only referencing a single verse, you cannot ignore the context.

    Interpreting this as hoping he dies by natural means is hardly a meaningful excuse for this. It is less unrealistic when combined with the increase in number of death threats coming from the right.

  15. 15
    Ron Chusid says:

    Mike,

    “I take no offense when you sometimes refer to people like me living in a fantasy world, because I find on some issues so little in common with what you consider reality.”

    The difference is that when I show that conservatives are living in a fantasy world, I use facts to show how the conservative viewpoint is based upon unsubstantiated beliefs which are contrary to fact. In return you find that there is little in common with what we consider reality, but there are no facts to support your beliefs–just talking points repeated by the right which right wingers then mistake as facts.

  16. 16
    Eclectic Radical says:

    ‘…there is nothing in the whole chapter that advocates death by assasination as opposed to death by other means such as natural causes.’
     
    The passage is very specifically about the execution of an official who was corrupt and pocketed the welfare money… essentially. It makes clear references to the fact that it is about execution, the Psalm is written from the point of view of the king passing sentence. This is a core point of Biblical literacy, and I have a hard time believing you are really Biblically illiterate.
    Context has meaning. I know this isn’t popular in conservative circles and that right-wing journalism thrives on single texts ‘ripped out of context.’ In most of the real world, something means what it means in its proper context. Not what someone else wants it to mean.
     
    Now, at least one of the people involved in the thinking up of the little slogan has essentially admitted to Biblical illiteracy. Not having any reason to think better of her, as I do of you, I am willing to accept that she is Biblically illiterate. That still makes her just another would-be-spin-doctor on the right wing trying to spin something out of context to mean something it does not, rather than face its contextual meaning head on.
     

  17. 17
    Eclectic Radical says:

    This should have occured to me before…
     
    ‘Let his days be few’ in the language of the King James Bible, means ‘kill his sorry ass.’ Most versions have kept this language.
     
    Just for amusement value, here is Psalm 109:10:
     
    ‘Let his children continually be vagabonds, and beg;
    Let them seek their bread also from their desolate places.’
     
    And Psalm 109:12:
     
    ‘Let there be none to extend mercy to him,
    Nor let there be any favor to his fatherless children.’
     
    There is no way to make Psalm 109 ‘inoffensive’ as a reference. It’s about killing someone and destroying his family.
     

  18. 18
    Ron Chusid says:

    Eclectic,

    Actually there is a strange consistency to this, considering how right wingers frequently use lines taken out of context (if not entirely misquoted) to attack liberals. Context just doesn’t matter to them. Neither do facts. That’s the only way they can come up with some of the things they believe.

1 Trackbacks

Leave a comment