Donald Trump’s culpability

Just in case you’re wondering how Dominion Voting Systems equipment operated in the 2020 presidential election, here’s how: voters entered a private booth and used Dominion touch screens to select their voting choices. Once finished, the machines printed out a copy of their ballots with their choices clearly indicated. The voters were free in each case to visually inspect and authenticate that their printed copy matched their choices on the machine. Then, the voter turned in their printed copy to an election official for safekeeping.

Internally the Dominion Systems machines maintain a central running tally of votes for each candidate. These internal votes can be verified by matching the machine tally with the printed tally. Since each printed tally can be (and almost certainly was) verified by the voters themselves, there really is no way to use Dominion Systems to commit voting fraud.

And yet Dominion Systems has now entered the language, with some people, as a bete noire, a computerized bogeyman of Deep State voter fraud. Dominion has now joined Burisma as yet another Deep State operator — at least in the tiny minds of alt right conspiracy theory, tinfoil hat-wearing, propeller-headed wackos. Campaign workers who certify these results are now receiving death threats.

In other words, according to the tiny minds of people threatening to murder them, campaign workers are supposed to deny the evidence of their own eyes and instead proclaim that Donald Trump won the election anyway. Now that would be voter fraud.

Here’s what Gabriel Sterling, the politically conservative Voting System Implementation Manager for the state of Georgia tweeted: “So this is fun…multiple attempted hacks of my emails, police protection around my home, the threats. But all is well…following the the law, following the process…doing our jobs.”

In a later impassioned plea to Donald Trump to publicly disavow this violence, Mr. Sterling emphasized that other innocent people doing their jobs were receiving death threats. He angrily pointed out that Trump attorney Joe diGenova said that former Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Chris Krebs should be shot. Mr Sterling also alluded to a “twenty something tech” who was confronted with a noose and a call that he should be “hung for treason.”

Donald Trump’s response was to double down, and retweet Mr. Sterling’s eloquent plea with: “Rigged Election. Show signatures and envelopes. Expose the massive voter fraud in Georgia. What is Secretary of State and @BrianKempGA afraid of. They know what we’ll find!”

Trump’s tone deaf response means the death threats will continue, of course. Trump has now placed himself in the role of co-conspirator in the crime of making terroristic threats, a crime involving a threat to commit violence communicated with the intent to terrorize and intimidate other people.

Terroristic threats are crimes in most states. Considering the enormous power of influence Trump still wields in the minds of certain cretins, the virtual guarantee that threats and possible actual physical violence that could result from these threats could mean, legally speaking, that Trump is culpable for these crimes. Trump’s moral culpability is without question, of course.

I haven’t received any death threats — yet. I have received numerous emails and forum comments that dance on the furry edge of death threats. Deliberate care is taken that the message is communicated without actually enunciating the deadly intent behind the language, intent that could be construed as a violation of the law, I suppose. But it’s probably only just a matter of time.

My point is, Mr. Sterling is correct, menacing behavior is rampant. I’ve seen it myself, even from my relatively obscure corner. There is, in fact, a kind of pandemic of intimidating language from Republicans. Isaac Asimov once wrote that “violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.” Given the rapidity with which Republicans resort to it, it is clearly also becoming their first refuge. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.

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