Pa. Man's Letter Brings Secret Service
BETHLEHEM, Pa. (AP) -- An elderly man who wrote in a letter to the editor about Saddam Hussein's execution that "they hanged the wrong man" got a visit from Secret Service agents concerned he was threatening President Bush.
The letter by Dan Tilli, 81, was published in Monday's edition of The Express-Times of Easton, Pa. It ended with the line, "I still believe they hanged the wrong man."
Tilli said the statement was not a threat. "I didn't say who - I could've meant (Osama) bin Laden," he said Friday.
Two Secret Service agents questioned Tilli at his Bethlehem apartment Thursday, briefly searching the place and taking pictures of him, he said.
The Secret Service confirmed the encounter. Bob Slama, special agent in charge of the Secret Service's Philadelphia office, said it was the agency's duty to investigate.
Now that's newsworthy, wouldn't you say?
Not according to this guy:
The Express-Times is becoming an increasingly irresponsible and despicable news publication. By choosing to glorify the investigation by the Secret Service into letters to the editor by Dan Tilli of Bethlehem, including a picture of him in the process, you honored a man who has none and allied yourself with a group of societal antagonists who use your publication on a monthly basis to disparage a U.S. president and often times express anti-American sentiment.
Free speech sucks, sir. Get used to it.
And who was really acting like an 'anti-American' in this case?
The agents, who arrived about 10 a.m. after traveling 60 miles from Philadelphia, asked Tilli a little of everything: Do you have siblings? Have you considered committing suicide? ("Hell no," he responded.) Have you visited Washington, D.C.?
"I don't even know how to get there," Tilli said. "Atlantic City is the only place I go."
Despite the agents' sudden arrival at his home, Tilli wasn't scared. After all, he'd been through it before.
Two FBI agents from Allentown showed up at Tilli's home last year under similar circumstances, he said. They were apparently worried about a letter he wrote advocating a civil war to unseat President Bush.
"It was a little surprising on this one because I didn't think the letter was that bad," Tilli said.
Tilli's letters protected by Constitution, expert says
And the letter is indeed protected under the Constitution, said Clay Calvert, co-director of the Pennsylvania Center for the First Amendment based at Penn State University.
"True threats of violence fall outside the scope of true protection," Calvert said, adding that those situations are very rare. "This is much more, in my mind, rhetorical hyperbole which would be protected. And a reasonable person would probably not perceive it as a threat of immediate violence against them."
No reasonable person would. Bush, the man who has conveniently discarded the constitution however, is not exactly reasonable though. I doubt Bush even knows what 'rhetorical hyberbole' means - despite the fact that he's full of it.