Teacher suspended after suggesting Kavanaugh be killed

The internet and social media has given people the ability to have their voices amplified. Too often, that’s a bad idea.

Take the case of a Dakota County teacher who thought it might not be an altogether bad idea to raise the possibility of killing a sitting Supreme Court justice.

The Star Tribune says the teacher in ISD 917, who is not named because she hasn’t been charged, tweeted “So whose [sic] gonna take one for the team and kill Kavanaugh?”

Saying that, we thought in pre-internet times, is a bad idea.

The district has suspended her pending an investigation, the school district said on its website:

Over the weekend, the district has received a complaint regarding an employee. The employee has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

Pursuant with the data practices act, we are limited to providing additional information regarding this matter.

Mark A. Zuzek
Superintendent

Others on Twitter published her name, photo, teacher license number, and phone number of her employer. Twitter suspended her account.

Last week, a Florida man was arrested after he posted a series of Facebook messages that threatened to kill members of Congress and their families if Kavanaugh wasn’t confirmed to the Supreme Court.

Democracy may not survive social media and the empowerment of the formerly voiceless.

  • John

    You know, you’d think people would eventually figure out that making threats (or statements that could be perceived as threats) in massive public forums is bad for their employment prospects.

    Apparently not though.

  • jon

    I’m actually surprised that we haven’t faced more serious assassination attempts on members of congress, and supreme court justices, etc…

    I mean lots of people have gotten large parts of their personality wrapped up in the ideas of partisan politics… and access to guns isn’t an issue for most people…
    The 2017 baseball shooting in DC demonstrated that those not under secret service protection aren’t really all that protected from such events…
    I sort of figured after that it would only be a matter of time before we either started hearing about politically motivated shootings, or the arrest of would be politically motivated shooters caught prior to the shooting…

    I know it’s not a very high bar to clear, but the fact americans aren’t regularly trying to kill those who disagree with them on politics is a positive sign (disregard those who threaten a civil war in the event they don’t get their way…)

    • We got a threat a couple of weeks ago. “I’m going to kill you all,” it said.

      I don’t know anyone in the news business right now who isn’t convinced it’s only a matter of time. I don’t know too many who aren’t at least thinking of getting out of the business.

      By the way, i’ll remind you a federal judge was assassinated and a congresswoman shot in the head just a few years ago. A congressman in Washington was seriously wounded in an assassination attempt just a year ago.

      • jon

        In my original post I was thinking about the Legislative, and Judicial branches.

        But I suspect you are right journalists are taking their place in the cross hairs.

        And I suspect that events like Jamal Khashoggi’s “disappearance”, and Viktoria Marinova’s brutal rape and murder… could end up supporting idea…

      • Al

        That’s really, really scary, Bob. Most of us here don’t have the balls to put ourselves out there with our full name attached. Myself included. Thank you for doing it.

      • Kellpa07

        Not to mention the ricin attacks in the last week or so.

  • Gary F

    Just think of what will happen if Ruth Bader Ginsberg dies/retires in the next two years.

    • That sounds like a threat…

      • Gary F

        No threat. It’s well known she is getting up there in age and has had some medical issues. I hope God takes her when he is ready. There is too much pressure on her to retire.

        But after watching the three ring circus we just had, I think the next one will be even crazier.

    • jon

      I suspect the further right the courts go, the less complacent the left will be…

      Or to put it more bluntly, but shifting the court right, Trump has given the Left reason to vote to move the executive and legislative branches left.

      There is of course precedent for this around the new deal… So I guess, be careful what you wish for.

      • Brian Simon

        It’s not just the courts, but the political environment overall. Republicans have very slight majorities, but make no pretense at compromise. When Obama nominated Garland, he chose a relatively moderate judge, who would easily have passed in a different political environment. Trump did not return the favor with Gorsuch or Kasich.

        • Postal Customer

          Why should Trump have returned that “favor?”

          And why do Democrats keep thinking that one day Republicans will play fair?

          • Brian Simon

            There are a variety of reasons, none of which appeal to the petulant man-child who currently occupies the office.

            I share your confusion on the second question.

          • lindblomeagles

            Great questions Dave. Everybody knows Trump. Trump has never played fair. And he’s overly proud of himself that he never has played fair. The difference today from Trump in the past is the Senate also IS NOT playing fair, and Democrats have forgotten that playing unfair was the Republican aim since Obama was elected in 2008, an aim they’ve repeated in every election since then. Prior to Bill Clinton’s election in 1996, Republicans and Democrats actually had been playing fair. In fact, Reagan carried Democrats in 1980 and again in 1984, and Bill carried the South in the 1996 election. But slowly, the Republican Party has been playing less fair. It started with Whitewater. For many Republicans back then, the Clintons exhibited unfair play. There were rumblings, rumblings that were minor, but important, and yet the Republican Party could then be convinced to play fair, even after they cheated in Florida to win the 2000 election for George Bush. Then came 2008. Out of nowhere, Obama carried the nation, and to many Republicans, he took the nation by winning the minority, youth, and women vote. Convinced they could not win these votes (Republican party values do not typically favor these groups in general, and their base of supporters don’t like these groups on some level either) the Republican Party feels the only way to get what they want is to play unfair.

        • Jeff

          Well that was when it took 60 votes before the Republicans changed the rules, so there was incentive to nominate someone more moderate.

          • Gary F

            Thank Harry reid

          • Jay T. Berken

            No, thank the process of winner takes all and the minority can only obstruct. It has produced tribalism and not compromise.

        • Sonny T

          Actually they are not much different:

          https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/sep/5/kavanaugh-garland-voted-together-93-pct-time/

          Kavanaugh is expected to lean conservative, but this is by no means a given. Once on the SC they all tend to be pretty moderate. Don’t forget Roberts carried Obamacare over the goal line. Ya can’t trust anyone anymore 🙂

          • BJ

            Roberts – was not the person the left made him out to be, (nor was GB2). I have an acquaintance that went to law school with Roberts. They had great things to say about him during the nomination process and that acquaintance is what most people would call a left wing socialist today.

          • lindblomeagles

            Well, yes and no. Yes, it is anybody’s guess what may happen in the future. HOWEVER, loyalty, in the short term, is what President Trump values most of all. It’s the reason why the first Attorney General was let go. It’s the reason Trump turned on his former lawyer, but publicly applauded Paul Manafort, who was a much bigger crook than his ex-lawyer-fixer. And let’s not forget what happens in 2020. Reapportionment! States, such as Texas, Kansas, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Indiana, and several others, have been trying to reduce, substantially, the black and Democrat vote by redrawing voting districts, enacting crazy ID cards, and limiting the number of polling booths in some districts compared to others. The American people thought Kavanaugh’s importance on abortion was huge. No. The real prize is 2020, and how those voting maps look prior to that election, and the absence of a court that will see things the way the voter may see things.

        • BillPrep

          “Kasich”???

          kavanaugh worked for bush, the younger…you dont get much more ‘moderate’ than that…I’d be willing to bet youve NEVER read anything kavanaugh has written…

          that is, if kavanaugh has moved more right, you’ve only your fellow travelers to blame…

          • thank you to whomever flagged an utterly disgusting comment from this commenter earlier. He has now been banned.

      • theoacme

        The problem for me is, the Democrats are so economically far right in my eyes (and the DNC is ineffective to the point of being concupiscent to the Republican Party), it doesn’t make a difference to me whether I vote Republican or Democratic…

        …to paraphrase Keynes, in the very short run, I will be dead, regardless of whether Republicans or Democrats, or any combination thereof, are in charge in DC and all state capitols.

        • Guest

          points for teaching me a new word today.

        • lindblomeagles

          You’re actually right. The country as a whole DOES NOT want to overhaul economic policy. Bernie Sanders does, but, that’s about it. The reason why the United States is polarized has to do with SOCIAL POLICY issues. There are a lot of rural and suburban places that simply are not comfortable with growing Latino populations, IN THEIR COMMUNITIES, African American wealth (as it pertains to athletes and educated African Americans, such as the Obamas, gaining ground in suburbia and the workplace), open GLBT people (who tend to be younger), and some (yes, some) who feel women are growing too wealthy at the expense of men. In fact, if you listen carefully enough, you don’t hear anything about runaway budgets or domestic spending from FISCAL conservatives. A few communities want to deregulate the environment for job opportunities, but overall, the deadlock we have today in Congress and the White House stems from fundamental disagreements regarding social policy.

          • Kellpa07

            This post contains a great deal of protection. You claim to know an awful lot of what meant millions are thinking. For some, though are almost certainly correct. For others, you are not. Some r might call it arrogance.

          • lindblomeagles

            If you want to be as smart as me, all you have to do is read a variety of sources. One source is not nearly enough. A plethora of points of view would enhance your knowledge base. By the way Kellpa, you should have heard the Take Away today on NPR. Like me, they too have concluded the nation’s angst has to do with our SOCIAL culture rather than our political one.

    • The Resistance

      I think it’s a bit too early for that kind of speculation.

      • Postal Customer

        She should have retired in 2013.

    • crystals

      I’m in favor of implementing term limits on the Supreme Court. Before attending a presentation on the subject at a law school of note (i.e., one that’s responsible for almost half of our current justices) back in 2006, I didn’t realize that is traditionally a conservative position. I wonder if it still is.

  • Brian Simon

    As others have noted, it’s likely just a matter of time before more people put action to words.
    People who see no alternatives take desperate actions that seem irrational to the rest of us. We see that in suicides, for example. I wonder how many people are driven to that level of helplessness, given the current state of our irrepresentative democracy. We have a winner-takes-all President, elected by a minority of voters. We’ve seen a bare majority of Senators, representing a minority of the population, force through a controversial judge to a lifetime appointment to the SCOTUS.
    It’s easy to be a little cynical, and fear that this is going to get worse, before it gets better. Threatening – or pursuing – violence is not the answer. But will some desperate people see no viable alternative?

    • theoacme

      I honestly think that suicide is coming close to being my only option – if I am not executed by Trump supporters first (or Hillary supporters for not supporting her “lesser evil”).

      The only reason I don’t? I don’t know if I can possibly carry out suicide, as I do not have the means now, and do not have the money necessary to get a guaranteed means of a quick and sure suicide (although trying to be a pedestrian crossing Hamline Avenue would be a potential and certain option, the way motor vehicle drivers drive these days, and it would not officially be suicide, so…)

      • Brian Simon

        I hope you’re being hyperbolic, not literal.

      • BJ

        please call
        1-800-273-8255
        https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

      • The Resistance

        I’m seconding BJ’s request that you reach out immediately. Please.

  • Guest

    Sadly once we moved from:
    “I know you want a better nation, but have you considered this consequence of your proposal”

    to

    “the other side is evil”

    folks think ANY action is justified by the end result of stopping “evil”. Sigh 🙁

    • I have to admit that I really liked it back in the day when candidates would show up for a debate together and then maybe go get a drink afterwards, then try to beat each other’s brains in on the campaign trail.

      There really is something quite scary about the current environment and our democracy seems to already be heading for a situation of endless coups .

      Right now, the American experiment is a failure.

      • Guest

        Hopefully it is extremism, shut down the government to get my way, that will be the failure – hope – hope – hope.

  • It never ceases to amaze how people will thoughtlessly share the most inappropriate things via email, even in office settings where they should realize that their employer owns the network so that they can easily be outed. But email is the old story – now social media provides the means to instantly become a pariah, with consequences at work and everywhere else in one’s life. Carrying a smartphone loaded up with social media accounts is like carrying a firearm with a round in the chamber all day long – easy to get to and use, but more likely than not going to lead to a world of regret if used in an inopportune moment. All it takes is one slip up.

    • Guest

      Even a tweet from long ago……sigh

      • Kellpa07

        Weren’t we just running down a baseball player for tweets in his high school years? Social media is not worth it.

  • VivaKateSmith

    So, she gets a paid vacation for suggesting the assassination of an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court (after he survived an attempt to assassinate his character).

    Oh, to be a public employee.

  • HRF

    “…empowerment of the formerly voiceless.”
    They were dis-empowered because they are nuts. And they are not voiceless, I’m sure there are all kinds of voices vying for attention in their heads.

  • AL287

    “Democracy may not survive social media and the empowerment of the formerly voiceless.”

    Social media doesn’t have to destroy democracy but there has to be more vigilance and consequences for those use it to say whatever pops in their head, especially when it is highly offensive and threatening.

    Don’t post ANYTHING on social media platforms that you would not say to someone face-to-face. This is how otherwise very intelligent people are suspended, censured or at the very worst terminated from their jobs.

    And they should be since we have no laws on the books that restrict our highly touted freedom of speech on social media or anywhere else.

    We don’t seem to be able to differentiate between what is insulting and offensive speech and speech that informs and educates and it is clear we cannot count on Facebook, Twitter, etc. to make sure we can tell the difference.

  • lindblomeagles

    While I understand the sentiment, Kavanaugh’s place on the Supreme Court first of all really isn’t his fault. If Kavanaugh isn’t selected, we, da’ public, never knows 2 cents about him. The people that should be held responsible for Kavanaugh are the forces supporting and maintaining Donald Trump’s power in the White House, Senate, and House. Second, killing Kavanaugh doesn’t really solve the problem. That’s what Dillon Roofs was trying to do in an all-African American South Carolina Church, that’s what the Gabby Giffords’ shooter was trying to do in Arizona, that’s what the Afghani-American was trying to do in Pulse Night Club, and, that’s what, ironically, the Saudis were trying to do when they flew that plane into the Twin Towers on 911. Killing just spurs more hate, which is often met by more hate. Just ask the Palestinians and the Israelis who have hated each other for more than 50 years. Our country simply cannot agree on social issues, and therefore, maybe instead of killing one another, we peacefully and amicably divide this country into two nations the way Czechoslovakia divided itself. The way North and South Korea are divided as well.

    • Kellpa07

      Peacefully, just like North and South Korea. Uh…

      • lindblomeagles

        Yep. You know as soon as we split this nation in two, somebody is going to saber rattle.

  • Tom

    I am fairly confident that if that had been Hillary Clinton’s death sought, the suspect would have been identified rather than protected.

    • Nonsense. The practice of not naming people until charged is standard. The lunatics online these days taking matters into their own hands is a good reason why.

      • Kellpa07

        I understand this must be a crime and therefore it seems reasonable to not use her name. If prosecutors decline prosecution, would her name be used then? It seems names are used all the time when people do bad, but not illegal things.

        • I don’t know. Given the lunatics who are out there, I think an entirely new standard has to be developed, particularly in cases involving politics that might set the political fanatics into action . These times are forcing a complete rewrite of the rules.

          • Kellpa07

            Sometimes there is no clear answer, particularly when the name is likely easily learned through other social media.

        • RBHolb

          I don’t know that this is a crime, since it really isn’t a direct threat. There is no indication of imminent action.

          The teacher’s name is being withheld because it is a personnel matter.

          • Kellpa07

            I also doubt it will be charged, although it will likely be investigated because it’s a potential threat against a specific person. It being a personnel matter may preclude the school from releasing her name, but not the press.

  • MrE85