Will Evangelist Who Called For The Assassination of Abortion Providers Be Prosecuted?

Concerned citizens call for the arrest and prosecution of popular Facebook evangelist Joshua Feuerstein after the former pastor called on Christians to assassinate abortion providers.

After a bombshell report showing the obnoxious but popular Christian evangelist Joshua Feuerstein calling on fellow Christians to  “punish Planned Parenthood” and make abortion providers fear for their life, some outraged citizens have been calling for the arrest and prosecution of Feuerstein.

Currently there is a Whitehouse.gov petition asking the Obama administration to prosecute Feuerstein for attempting to incite violence, as well as another petition at change.org asking U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to arrest Feuerstein.

In addition, there have been myriad social media calls for Feuerstein’s arrest and prosecution, including a viral video from popular atheist vlogger Dusty Smith at the Cult of Dusty that has been viewed over 250,000 times.

As for Feuerstein, his first response was to delete the video evidence from his Facebook page in a pathetic attempt to destroy the evidence. However, the Internet does not forget, and multiple copies of the video were mirrored on YouTube.

In an attempt at damage control, Feuerstein then released another video denying he was really calling for the assassination of abortion providers, claiming the video being shared was highly edited and taken out of context. In the video Feuerstein insists his call to action was meant as “irony” and not to be taken literally.

For the sake of clarity, both the edited video, and the full video, can be viewed below. First the full video:

https://youtu.be/aursnJkrvsg

So let me get this right. Tonight, America is crying about an old lion named Cecil that was killed by some dipwad who cut his head off and left his body there. But check this out.

Planned Parenthood has hunted down millions and millions of little innocent babies, stuck a knife into the uterus, cut them, pulled them out, crushed their skull with forceps, ripped their body apart, sold their tissue, and threw them bleeding into a trash bin.

You guys are crying about a lion, but what about the babies? You know what I call that? I call that being a hypocrite.

I say, tonight, we punish Planned Parenthood. I think it’s time that abortion doctors should have to run and hide and be afraid for their life.

Instead of some hunter.

Both are wrong. But one is a lion. The other are humans. Stand up for humans.

And now the edited video:

https://youtu.be/7YlDK_rT5XQ

Planned Parenthood has hunted down millions and millions of little innocent babies, stuck a knife into the uterus, cut them, pulled them out, crushed their skull with forceps, ripped their body apart, sold their tissue, and threw them bleeding into a trash bin.

I say, tonight, we punish Planned Parenthood. I think it’s time that abortion doctors should have to run and hide and be afraid for their life.

Despite Feuerstein’s claims to the contrary,  both videos share the same message. In both videos Feuerstein calls on Christians to “punish Planned Parenthood” and make abortion providers fear for their life.

As Hemant Mehta writing at Friendly Atheist points out, the shorter, edited clip merely removed the parts about Cecil the lion; it didn’t twist Feuerstein’s words in any way. Feuerstein was still calling for his followers to go after abortion doctors.

As for the possibility of arresting and prosecuting Feuerstein, Ken White writing at Popehat says there is little chance that Feuerstein will face any legal consequences for his dangerous call to action. White notes:

… absent evidence that Feuerstein’s video actually led to violence, or absent very strong evidence that the video was made in circumstances where listeners were standing by ready to commit immediate violence, it is probably not unlawful incitement outside the protection of the First Amendment.

I wouldn’t blame anyone who felt frightened by Feuerstein’s video, especially if they worked for Planned Parenthood. I think he’s at best indifferent to the impact of his words. I suspect he meant to cause fear and is simply too much of a craven to admit it now. But the First Amendment provides a rather wide and robust buffer zone for speech that winds up protecting a lot of despicable behavior. Some people will always cavort in the margins.

White is probably right. It is doubtful Feuerstein will face any legal consequences for his dangerous hate speech because the First Amendment provides protections for the worst among us, even Feuerstein.

Make no mistake, there is a real dilemma here – Feuerstein’s call to assassinate abortion providers is deeply disturbing; yet free speech is precious, and the call to punish speech can lead down a slippery slope with unintended and disastrous consequences.

Besides, Feuerstein is only a symptom of the problem – the real problem is Feuerstein’s 1.8 million followers, and the legions of other Christians who endorse the dangerous and hateful religious rhetoric Feuerstein and Christians like him preach.

Bottom line: Sometimes sunshine is the best disinfectant. Exposing the dangerous rhetoric of Christian extremists like Feuerstein to the sweet light of reason may be the best course of action in the fight against religious extremism.

Bonus: Watch Dusty Smith call for the arrest and prosecution of Feuerstein –

Joshua Feuerstein (Image via Facebook)
Joshua Feuerstein (Image via Facebook)

 

 

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