Hey, if a visit from the Secret Service is good enough for Kathy Griffin, well … Hollywood’s Peter Fonda, a bygone prince of cool from the lost Age of Aquarius, lost his current cool earlier today in a rant on Twitter. The Easy Rider star offered up a misogynistic tirade aimed at DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, calling them both “gashes,” a reference to their genitalia. But it’s Fonda’s demand for Barron Trump to be violently “ripped” from Melania Trump and put into a cage “with pedophiles” that may earn him a free consultation with the Secret Service:
The Office of the First Lady has notified the Secret Service after actor Peter Fonda called for kidnapping Melania and Donald Trump’s son, Barron, The Daily Caller has learned exclusively.
In a tweet sent Wednesday, the actor called for Barron to be “ripped” from Melania’s arms and put in a cage “with pedophiles.” …
Spokesperson for the first lady Stephanie Grisham told The Daily Caller that the Secret Service has been “notified” of the threat.
“The tweet is sick and irresponsible and USSS has been notified,” Grisham said.
Ironically, the Daily Caller notes that Fonda’s next film will hit theaters soon with the title Boundaries. Looks like he’s going to get a reminder of those pretty soon. “All” Griffin did was post an image of an effigy of Trump’s decapitated head (yes, all, bear with me for a moment), and she still got a one-hour-plus grilling from the president’s bodyguards. The only threat in Griffin’s case was by implication. In contrast, Fonda explicitly called for violent acts to be perpetrated on a pre-adolescent son of the president, which is such a weird reaction that the Secret Service really has no choice but to check in on Fonda — if for no other reason than to ensure he’s taking his meds.
Still, this isn’t going to go any farther than it did with Griffin — legally, anyway. As disgusting as his rant might be, and as upsetting as it certainly must have been for Melania Trump, it’s still not the kind of speech that crosses the Brandenburg threshold. For this to cross over into illegal conduct, Fonda would have to have intended to create an imminent threat through his speech and explicitly commanded that imminent action. It’s clearly not that kind of threat; it’s a more vulgar version of a common form of criticism along the lines of “he should be strung up by his toes,” and other similar phrases. Disgusting as Fonda’s sentiments are, they are clearly intended as political criticism rather than an imminent threat of violence. Had Fonda appeared in the White House residence with a group of agitators and made these same comments, then those words would qualify as a bona-fide threat of violence.
This, on the other hand, is more actionable:
U.S. Marshals are searching for a Central Pennsylvania man accused of threatening President Trump and other officials.
WNEP reports that Marshals are looking for 26-year-old Shawn Christy of McAdoo, Pennsylvania. …
Christy reportedly posted a social media post threatening to “put a bullet in the head of President Trump.”
The post has since been deleted.
Back to Fonda, though: Sick and irresponsible? Definitely. Worthy of law-enforcement intervention? Only in the broadest possible sense of ensuring that a threat doesn’t actually exist to the family of an official under Secret Service protection. Otherwise, no. However, one has to wonder how Fonda’s fellow Hollywood celebs, being so #MeToo woke these days, will react to Fonda’s dismissal of two women as nothing more than “gashes.” Might be interesting to ask them and see them attempt to explain away the explicit misogyny of these remarks. Here they are for posterity after Fonda deleted them, which includes his explanation of what precisely he means by “gash”:
Not to worry, Tammy, we’ve got his vile tweets saved for all eternity pic.twitter.com/4gcjJK8vWo
— Lu (@jllgraham) June 20, 2018
Really, the only question left is what Sony Pictures intends to do about the release of Boundaries. Its release date is Friday, which leaves them no time to bring in Christopher Plummer to replace Fonda a la Plummer’s emergency replacement for Kevin Spacey in All the Money in the World. Besides, Plummer’s already in this film as one of the lead actors. I’d bet that Boundaries gets a chilly reception regardless.
Update: As celebrity apologies go, this … isn’t too bad, actually:
After some since-deleted tweets the 78-year-old Oscar-winner made about the Trump Administration’s policy of separating children from their families at the southern border gained negative attention and were flagged by the Secret Service, he’s issued an apology and brief explanation for his rhetoric.
“I tweeted something highly inappropriate and vulgar about the president and his family in response to the devastating images I was seeing on television. Like many Americans, I am very impassioned and distraught over the situation with children separated from their families at the border, but I went way too far,” he wrote in a statement provided to Fox News. “It was wrong and I should not have done it. I immediately regretted it and sincerely apologize to the family for what I said and any hurt my words have caused.”
That won’t keep the Secret Service from following up (if they’re inclined to do so), but at least it wasn’t a “sorry if you didn’t comprehend my brilliance” non-apology.