The furor over Primadonald’s “Second Amendment” remarks made at a Wilmington, NC rally this past Sunday (8-7-16) has set off such a flurry of claims and counter-claims that you risk terminal vertigo trying to sort it out. The intent here is to offer some guidance in working through the ongoing “spin cycle”.

As a solid point of reference, what follows are Primadonald’s extemporaneous remarks in boldface:

“Hillary wants to abolish – essentially abolish the Second Amendment (1). By the way, if she gets to pick – if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is. I don’t know. But I’ll tell you what – it will be a horrible day if Hillary gets to put her judges in; right now we’re tied.”

There are three and only three possible ways of interpreting the candidate’s statement and each will be dealt with next.

+Primadonald was just joking. This is the interpretation favors by House Speaker, Paul Ryan, who more specifically called it a “joke gone bad”, then adding that implied violence is nothing to be joked about. Indeed, one is hard pressed to remember an instance when any other presidential candidate jested in this particular manner.

+Primadonald was rallying Second Amendment advocates to make sure to vote and thus prevent HRC from gaining the presidency and the chance to nominate up to three justices to the US Supreme Court. This is the interpretation that was issued by Primadonald’s senior spokesman and that the candidate embraced and has continued to use. The view held here is that if this “spin” actually represents the true case, then the boldface remarks are consistent with the opaqueness, clumsiness and tenuous coherence that have marked other ad libbing by the candidate. (2)

+Ptrimadonald was engaging in at least an implicit call for violence to stop HRC from nominating any justices to the Supreme Court. Many people, including some Republicans, see this as the correct interpretation. In reality, that is reading something into the remarks that may not have been intended by the speaker. In the section that follows, there is a good deal of recent history that points us, however, tentatively, towards the truth of the matter.

Primadonald’s History of Inflammatory Language and the Results

+At a Trump rally in Las Vegas on 2-23-16, as a protester was being escorted from the venue, Primadonald opined “I’d like to punch him in the face”, a bit later adding, that in the past, protesters would have been “carried out on a stretcher”.

+Near the end of a Trump rally in Fayetteville, NC on 3-9-16, as a Black member of the audience was leaving, showing no signs of protesting, he was sucker-punched by a Trump supporter. The candidate neither said nor did anything.

+On 3-19-16 in Tucson, AZ, there was a similar incident that involved a Trump supporter physically assaulting and kicking a protester. Again, the candidate demurred.

+ Shouting by Primadonald’s supporters at his events has tuned from the ugly to the vile; e.g. “Kill her (HRC)”…”Trump the bitch (again, HRC)…”Build a wall – kill them all” (referring to illegals)…”Fag”…(and) “Fuck the nigger (Obama)”. You can hear all this and more by Googling “Language at Trump rallies” and watching and listening to the video that opens. Throughout, Trump says nothing; and makes no effort to silence or defuse this hatred. (3)

Concluding Commentary

What we have here is a classic case of a man seeking the highest office in our land, who has spoken in a way that is so lacking in clarity that we are left with three distinctly different interpretations of his intended meaning. In the first possible case, he is joking about a solution that we historically settle at the ballot box, not with a gun. It is indeed “…a joke gone bad”, and its use a reflection of questionable judgment. The second interpretation would be quite acceptable if only we could be sure that meaning was what the candidate intended. But then, we can’t make that leap because of the aforementioned opaqueness, clumsiness and lack of coherence in the man’s speech. In the worst case, not only is there a subtle invitation to violence, we are told that it would be “horrible” if that didn’t work and HRC got to nominate some justices to the US Supreme Court. This interpretation is perfectly consistent with numerous instances of the candidate advocating violence and condoning it by withholding any sign of disapproval.

People will look at all this through the lens of their own political biases. The intent here has been to try to be evenhanded and to make clear that there is no sure, foolproof way of discerning Primadonald’s intended meaning. But, the history cited above does give us a gentle push towards the truth. Take it or resist; your choice.

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  1. Lost in all this controversy is the provable fact that HRC has never championed abolishing Second Amendment rights. So, Trump began his remarks with an outright lie.
  2. Suppose Primadonald had said “All of you who believe in your Second Amendment rights have got to get out and vote. It’s the only way we can stop HRC from packing the Supreme Court with liberal justices.” Would there be any question about his intended meaning had he said something like that?
  3. Compare Trump’s silence to how the president has handled booing; i.e. “Don’t boo; vote !!

 

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