Political pot-stirrer Norm Augustinus, who has long enjoyed the role of finger pointer, recently learned what it’s like to feel persecuted courtesy of a threat against his livelihood lodged by shadowy figures.
The high drama developed after Augustinus, a seasoned journalist-cum-illustrator, uploaded his animated indictment of President Barack Obama’s terrorist-targeting drone program on March 8. Although far less graphic than the multitude of his explicit sexually oriented materials, the roughly 30-second .GIF shows Obama, Michelle Obama, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi D-Calif., “getting it” via a laser-packing dirigible.
A few days later, Augustinus said he awoke to find the following warning in his inbox:
Dear Mr. Augustinus: Please be advised that your cartoon (normaugustinus.com), is in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 871 (Threat Against President). You have ten days to remove said cartoon or face dire consequences. Respectfully, Roland K. Anders Surpervisory Special Officer United States Secret Service Protective Division
Augustinus told HOH that the menacing missive rattled his cage enough that he took the ’toon down for a few hours in the days immediately after the initial contact. But his niece persuaded him not to bow to intimidation, state-sponsored or otherwise, so back up it went.
A follow-up call came Monday, with the disembodied voice on the other end of the phone touting more “serious consequences” if the cartoon continued to be broadcast beyond the original Thursday deadline.
“I’m not taking it down. This is America,” Augustinus asserted.
Mind you, the law cited specifically states that anyone who uses the Postal Service (guess the Secret Service can start taking off Saturdays soon) to convey a threat against POTUS, VPOTUS or potential successors “shall be fined under this article or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.”
Still, we here at HOH are inclined to call shenanigans.
First, what bureaucrat — armed or not — uses phraseology like “dire consequences?” Government correspondence is by design nauseatingly vanilla. Second, there’s a misspelling (surpervisory) in the email signature.
But the real red herring is the webiness of it all.
As any non-cash-strapped Nigerian prince knows, government officials do not personally email regular citizens. Every step of corresponding with the powers-that-be typically involves soul-crushing amounts of forest-depleting paperwork.
HOH has confirmed that two Secret Service agents from the Grand Rapids, Mich., branch did spend an hour poking around Chez Augustinus on Wednesday. But the visit appears to have been more courtesy call than arm-twisting session. “Anytime anyone is putting themselves out there as a Secret Service agent, we are interested in speaking with them,” a Secret Service aide assured HOH.