It’s been several hours since Johnny Depp’s Trump assassination joke at the Glastonbury Festival in Somerset, England. And while the 54-year-old Pirates of the Caribbean actor has yet to give further comment on the matter, he is facing major backlash back home, with reports also suggesting that the U.S. Secret Service is aware of his remarks. Social media users have also been up in arms, with many wanting to boycott the Hollywood star’s films or predicting the downfall of his career. But is Depp really in hot water for jokingly wanting President Donald Trump dead in front of a large audience, and suggesting he should be assassinated?
As the Inquisitr reported yesterday, the comments were made on Thursday at the Glastonbury Festival, as he fielded questions during a screening of his 2004 film, The Libertine, at the Cineramageddon drive-in theater. Johnny Depp made his Trump assassination joke when someone asked him about the president and what he feels about him. After suggesting that Donald Trump may “need help,” he warned that his next few comments would “be in the press,” and seemingly referenced Abraham Lincoln’s 1865 assassination at the hands of actor John Wilkes Booth.
“When was the last time an actor assassinated a president? I want to qualify, I am not an actor. I lie for a living. However, it has been a while, and maybe it is time.”
— ABC News (@ABC) June 23, 2017
In the aftermath of Depp’s assassination joke, it now seems that the U.S. Secret Service is aware of the matter, as confirmed by ABC News. The agency issued a prepared statement to ABC, stressing that it is not allowed to discuss specifics of any investigation, but noting that it actively monitors any form of open source reporting and potential threats, including social media activity.
“For security reasons, we cannot discuss specifically nor in general terms the means and methods of how we perform our protective responsibilities,” read the prepared statement from the Secret Service.
Given the possibility that the Secret Service is investigating Johnny Depp for his Trump assassination joke, does that mean that Depp may have to deal with serious consequences for his actions? BBC News cited the United States Code, which has a passage stating that threatening the president constitutes a Class E felony punishable by up to five years prison time and/or a monetary fine. This includes “knowing and willful” threats to kill, kidnap, or even as much as inflict physical harm upon the U.S. president, vice president, or presidential candidates.
However, there is also such a thing as “protected speech” under the First Amendment. Discussing comedian Kathy Griffin’s controversial photo shoot with a decapitated likeness of Donald Trump’s head, Stanford University law professor Nathaniel Persily told USA Today in May that such speech would no longer be protected if an individual’s words seriously galvanize people into harming someone.
“People are allowed to wish the president dead. To threaten someone you need words that encourage some sort of action.”
— Ronna RomneyMcDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) June 23, 2017
When will ppl learn that Hollywood will only listen when u hurt them in their wallets? Boycott all Johnny Depp movies.Heck,#BoycottHollywood
— Twitt3r Is Racist (@Twitt3rIsRacist) June 23, 2017
Kathy Griffin: I ruined my career, no one can ever screw up as badly as I did.
Reza Aslan: Hold my beer!
Johnny Depp: Mind if I join you?
— Tennessee (@TEN_GOP) June 23, 2017
For a guy who reportedly beats up women and is a drunk, Johnny Depp should keep his mouth shut.
— Dale1Chair (@dale1chair) June 23, 2017
Police officers KILL innocents, no one bats an eye.
Johnny Depp JOKES about killing Trump, everyone loses their mind.
— Neo Don (@Don_DaPilgrim) June 23, 2017
Meanwhile, the Twitterverse has largely been condemning of Johnny Depp after his Trump assassination joke at the Glastonbury Festival. As seen above, Twitter users have called for a boycott of his movies, while also predicting that his remarks at Glastonbury could potentially cost him his career. Others have also referenced Depp’s troubled recent past, which includes his messy divorce from actress Amber Heard, his reported financial problems, and his alleged recent history of alcohol abuse.
On the other hand, there have also been a good number of users who believe that Depp’s detractors, particularly those who identify as Republican, are overreacting, while also bringing up similar comments from rock legend Ted Nugent, who had previously ranted about killing then-Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, according to a 2007 report from Rolling Stone.
Do you think Johnny Depp’s Trump assassination comments were a case of the Hollywood star crossing the line, or are they being blown out of proportion? If you believe Depp did cross the line, do you feel he should be punished accordingly?
[Featured Image by Rich Fury/Getty Images]