On Tuesday, leaders from 20 pro-life groups in Ohio and across the nation called on the FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate the threats against Covington Catholic High School students, their families, and the school itself.
“We are today calling for the FBI and the Justice Department to investigate the very serious threats that were levied against the students and the Christian school,” Chris Long, president of both the Ohio Christian Alliance and the Christian Alliance of America, declared at a press conference in Cincinnati, Ohio.
He announced the delivery of a letter signed by the leaders of 20 different pro-life groups urging the FBI and the DOJ to investigate the threats that led Covington Catholic High School to close for a day and to postpone its basketball game. “The FBI, in the recent past, has brought charges against and prosecuted individuals who have hurled similar threats against Congressional members,” so it should bring cases against those who threatened the Covington Catholic boys, the letter says.
Various pro-life leaders signed the letter, including Long; Fremont Baptist Temple Pastor Gary Click; Anglican Priest Rev. James Tasker; Tradition, Family, Property Public Liaison C. Preston Noell III; Richfield Bible Baptist Church Pastor Alfred B. Davis; and others.
“We are here today because we are standing with the students in the face of this torrent of a hate campaign against them and their school,” Long declared. “The serious threats that were levied against the students and their school have caused the school to close, its athletic programs to be suspended, we understand just by a report that one family had to leave their home because they were doxxed.”
“There were crimes that were committed against these young people, who were simply at the March for Life to participate in a civic practice,” the Ohio Christian Alliance president added. “These are minors. These are youth. This is really ridiculous when we’re talking about what has become of this situation.”
Long announced that he and his fellow pro-life leaders would go in person to deliver a letter to the local FBI office.
Mark Harrington, president and founder of Created Equal, defended free speech but insisted that “when it comes to death threats, it goes beyond the pale. These are ‘fighting words,’ if you will. They’re not protected by the First Amendment.”
“It’s outrageous that we could do this to our young people,” Harrington declared. “So I stand with Chris and the others in calling for the FBI to investigate, the Department of Justice to investigate these threats. We need to take these seriously.”
“Some people say they were just ‘blowing off steam,’ they ‘don’t really mean it.’ When someone says they’re going to burn down a high school or shoot somebody, we better take those seriously,” the Created Equal president said. “Well, we’re making it clear to the FBI and the Department of Justice [that we want them] to take these threats seriously and investigate them and hopefully bring these people to justice.”
Meg Whitman, executive director of Greater Cincinnati Right to Life, joined Long and Harrington in calling for an investigation.
“It is absolutely vital that the pro-life movement take a stand against these malicious attacks on these teenagers from Covington Catholic High School,” Whitman declared. “These young men, their families, their school, their diocese were threatened with hate, violence, and even death by many, including people of influence. It is this type of behavior that we see exhibited in the pro-abortion movement. It’s used to bully pro-lifers into silence submission.”
“We must ensure that things like this, events like this, do not deter others from attending future pro-life marches and pro-life events. And most importantly that these people are held accountable for their actions against these students,” she added.
So she demanded “a full investigation of these threats,” adding, “We hope that this incident will ignite a fire in the pro-life movement and those who attend the March for Life and other pro-life events, that they will stand up for the right to life and also their right to free speech.”
Whitman also read a statement from Molly Smith, president of Cleveland Right to Life.
“Since when has it become okay for children to receive threats of violence against them, their family, and school by an angry mob?” Smith demanded. “The pro-life students at Covington Catholic High School must receive the full protection of the FBI and the Department of Justice who must investigate every threat made against them.”
“The intimidation tactics that have been used by the media and people of influence against these children must stop,” Smith’s statement continued. “It is time for the FBI and DOJ to hold the media and community leaders responsible for their irresponsible reaction to an unsubstantiated and false report that has caused these young boys to fear for their lives. Inciting violence is a criminal act.”
Smith seemingly went further than Harrington, Long, and Whitman in calling for the FBI and DOJ to investigate the media as well.
The FBI and DOJ probably should investigate the threats against the Covington Catholic boys. Media outlets should be shamed for spreading fake news, but unless a journalist actually did incite violence — by endorsing the idea that Nick Sandmann’s face is “punchable,” for example — the media should not be investigated in the same way as those who made death threats. Libel and slander are another matter, and Sandmann’s family has hired a high-powered lawyer to file lawsuits.
As Created Equal’s Mark Harrington rightly noted, “fighting words” are not protected by the First Amendment, and neither is libel or slander, but news — even fake news — still is.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.