Be Careful What You Post Online About Donald Trump; It Could Get You Arrested
How about that election, huh?
I haven’t been that excited for a title bout since Pacquiao/Mayweather! I mean, who would have thought that two people with an average age of 69 ½ could take the gloves off and go 15 rounds like that? You’ve got to admit, there were some serious haymakers being thrown.
I don’t know whose corner of the ring you were in during the match, and I’m not asking you to tell me. It was a tough night for everyone, and I think as a country we’re all just glad it’s behind us. Even my nine-year-old daughter was fretting this morning over how things were going to be with her best friend. They were rooting for different “boxers.”
With a loss like the one last night, there’s obviously going to be some hurt feelings; angst, frustration, resentment. We’re a fractured country, have been as long as I can remember. I would say that the last 20 years in politics have made that rift almost irreparable. Even tragedies like 9/11 and the Sandy Hook Massacre can’t seem to bring our country together for more than a few weeks before we go back to our ringside corners. It’s understandable that people (59, 602,599 people) are going to be upset at the results of last night. It is equally understandable that other people (59,396,488 people) are going to be overjoyed for the same reason that the first group is upset.
This is how arguments start. This is how fighting starts.
Are we going to have a national throwdown? A cage match for 120 million people? I hope not. If so, mad respect for the ringside judges.
But the fisticuffs have already started and it’s taking place online. I’m sure by now you have seen spiteful, hurtful things being thrown back and forth at people. Maybe you took part; maybe you were a victim to it. I would be lying if I said I didn’t post anything myself (Oh, c’mon! It was a GIF of a toilet flushing! Gimme a break!)
Nevertheless, we’re all guilty of it. It’s just that I am here to warn you that there are some things you just can’t say. Things that will get you into seriously hot water with the federal government.
Before I started writing I was a federal agent. Specifically, I was a Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service. Yes, I protected the guys and gals you voted for last night. Anyway, one thing that the agency takes very, very seriously are threats to the lives of those in their charge of protection. Specifically, the President of the United States, his family and now, the President-Elect and his family.
You can pop off on President-Elect Trump all you want. You can call him names, you make fun of him and you can hate him for as long as you please. But you cannot, under any circumstances, threaten his life and/or the life of his family. This is off limits, and the law supports it.
But…But…But… That’s my freedom of speech…. !
No, it’s not. You cannot make a threat against the President of the United States, the incoming President and his family. You cannot say it, you cannot write it, you cannot post it online. If you hear or see others doing it, you are obligated to notify the police.
Whatever, Wells! PROVE IT. What’s the law?!
18 U.S.C. 3056 is the authority of the United States Secret Service to enforce all other laws that are designed to protect the President of the United States and family.
18 U.S.C. 871 is the federal law making it illegal to threaten the President of the United States and his family.
Additionally, you can’t imply threats. The G-Men call them “veiled threats.” Something like “You know, if someone dropped a piano on (enter name)’s head from a building, I would be okay with that….” You can’t do that. It implies harm to the man.
You can’t support a threat against the man: “Someone please please please just go out and buy a sniper rifle and take out (enter name).”
You can’t directly threaten the man: “I’m going to kill (enter name) and his whole damn family!”
I get it. You’re upset. But is it worth the possibility of having a federal arrest record? Is it worth even having to tell your supervisor that you were investigated? If you have a security clearance, you can kiss that goodbye. If you are trying to get into the military, that’s a disqualifier (you threatened the Commander-in-Chief). So don’t do it, okay? There has been A LOT of this happening in the last few hours, and many, many people are going to get a visit from some federal agents investigating the threats that were made. The U.S. Secret Service investigates every single threat that is made against people under this umbrella of protection. No exceptions.
Just use the nice words. You know, the descriptive ones that my kids call “daddy words.” Totally legal, and probably appropriate for whomever you are discussing. And then go do something to vent your frustrations, like boxing.
Jason Wells is the author of “Our Path To Safety: A U.S. Secret Service Agent’s Guide To Creating Safe Communities” which you can find more information here. Jason is the President and Founder of the National Advancements for Proactive Safety, an educational non-profit organization committed to providing a safe community through intervention processes and a former Special Agent with the United States Secret Service. He is a contributing writer to the online publication Robious Corridor and has been featured in the Huffington Post, Forbes, Slate and Fatherly.