Commentary: Nothing funny about Obama poll on Facebook

The Charlotte ObserverOctober 2, 2009 

Forgive me if I don't think talk of presidential assassinations is funny. Not even on Facebook.

So I'm glad the U.S. Secret Service investigated the online survey that asked whether people thought President Obama should be assassinated. They've determined it was a juvenile mistake. But assassination threats against a president are serious business. Even those who promote it in jest need to learn that lesson.

Certainly 14-year-old Julia Wilson learned it in 2006 when she posted a picture of then-President George W. Bush on her MySpace page with the words "Kill Bush" scrawled across the top with a dagger stabbing his outstretched hand. The Secret Service came to her school, took her out of her molecular biology class to question her and said she could be sent to juvenile hall for making the threat.

"They yelled at me a lot," she said. "They were unnecessarily mean."

Mean? It's time for a history lesson.

At least 15 documented assassinations and attempts have been made against U.S. presidents since Abraham Lincoln, the nation's 16th president, was elected. Lincoln in 1865, James Garfield in 1881, William McKinley in 1901 and John F. Kennedy in 1963 all died by the hands of assassins. But many other assassins have tried to join that number.

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