Sarah Silverman, perhaps unsurprisingly, has been one of the most outspoken celebrities when it comes to criticizing President Donald Trump — a trend that landed in language indicating support for a military coup d’etat on Thursday.
Now that Trump is in office, Sarah has only gotten sharper in her attacks. Silverman recently tweeted that the American people need to consolidate their power behind the military to stop Trump, an action that sounds suspiciously like a coup d’état.
WAKE UP & JOIN THE RESISTANCE. ONCE THE MILITARY IS W US FASCISTS GET OVERTHROWN. MAD KING & HIS HANDLERS GO BYE BYE❤❤❤❤ https://t.co/Y2WZbL012A
— Sarah Silverman (@SarahKSilverman) February 2, 2017
Sarah didn’t seem to find much support for her views underneath her post, even from those who oppose the Trump presidency. Many condemned the idea of fomenting a military coup, even as a joke, while some even accused Silverman of being counterproductive to the resistance against Trump.
@SarahKSilverman You’re fighting for a lost cause, Sarah. You’re practically giving Trump a second term, with your incendiary rhetoric.
— The Socratic Hippie (@Socratic_Hippie) February 2, 2017
@SarahKSilverman You’re *literally* calling for a military coup. Do you think that ends in democracy?
— Ragan Ewing (@raganewing) February 2, 2017
Well, sure. If you can’t campaign and win normal elections, there’s always a violent overthrow with an army you don’t have. @SarahKSilverman
— D.W.Robinson (@_DWRobinson) February 2, 2017
Sarah made her initial post about a list of actions carried out by Trump earlier this week, including the removal of environmental protections and the dismantling of Dodd-Frank financial regulations. Silverman did not specify which of the gestures she felt would justify a military coup.
This all happened in ONE DAY. And the day isn’t over yet. pic.twitter.com/tOjEoH3JE6
— Jeff Mueller (@jeffmueller) February 1, 2017
Conservative media, outraged by what Sarah was suggesting, were quick to call her comments treasonous — pointing to a definition that characterized the crime as “plotting to overthrow the government.” Silverman, they argued, had clearly gone beyond the dissent protected by the First Amendment.
Just how credible are claims that Sarah Silverman committed treason with her tweet? Well, she wouldn’t be the first person to go to jail for a call for violence on Twitter. In 2012, 21-year-old, Donte Jamar Sims was arrested for saying he wanted to hit Obama with “that Lee Harvey Oswald swag,” referencing the shooter who ended the life of John F. Kennedy in 1963. A year later, 26-year-old Jarvis Britton was sentenced to a year in federal prison for tweeting “let’s kill the president” and suggesting slipping cyanide into his beverage as a possible means to do so.
Furthermore, 18 U.S. Code § 2385 does seem pretty clear about the fact that treason is a punishable offense — saying that it can result in a fine, a government employment ban of up to five years or up to 20 years in prison. It also specifically mentions encouraging a military coup, which Sarah did, and “publishing” material that advises people to do so, which Silverman also did.
“Whoever, with intent to cause the overthrow or destruction of any such government, prints, publishes, edits, issues, circulates, sells, distributes, or publicly displays any written or printed matter advocating, advising, or teaching the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying any government in the United States by force or violence, or attempts to do so… “
Of course, Sarah’s tweet isn’t particularly unique in the divided states of America reflected on social media right now. Twitter is thick with people advocating for the assassination ofDonald Trump, but that doesn’t mean that the government isn’t paying attention. One Kentucky woman is currently under Secret Service investigation for asking if someone would “be kind of enough” to kill the president as they had “been cruel enough to kill Martin Luther King, Jr.,” reported ABC News. With 9.86 million followers, Silverman is unlikely to go under the radar.
Advocating for violence may have been relatively absent from Sarah’s previous comments on the election, but her comedy has been savagely pointed toward the president since he ascended to office. After the second presidential debate, she referred to him as a “human blister.” Silverman also appeared on Late Night with Conan O’Brien dressed as Adolf Hitler. In character, she told the audience that the Fuhrer was irritated by comparisons to “crass” Donald Trump, even though he agreed with “about 90 percent of what he says.”
While Sarah Silverman may or may not be calling for a military coup, critics of the Trump administration are claiming that a form of one is already underway. Michael Moore recently tweeted that the president’s actions to concentrate power in his inner circle were the early signs of repressive government. Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a professor of history and Italian studies at New York University, recently published a column on CNN drawing parallels between the early days of his presidency and other countries that fell to authoritarianism.
“Many may raise their eyebrows at my use of this word, which brings to mind military juntas in faraway countries who use violence and the element of surprise to gain power. Our situation is different. Trump gained power legally but this week has provided many indications that his inner circle intends to shock or strike at the system, using the resulting spaces of chaos and flux to create a kind of government within the government: one beholden only to the chief executive.”
Do you think Sarah Silverman has committed treason with her call for a military coup d’etat to overthrow Donald Trump?
[Featured Image by Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images for Funny Or Die]