I don’t believe we have covered the story of Cayler Ellingson, the 18-year-old North Dakota boy who was murdered by 41-year-old Shannon Brandt. Why did the murder happen? Brandt says he ran Ellingson down with his car following a “political argument” because he thought Ellingson was part of a “Republican extremist group.”
Where might he have gotten that idea? From the President of the United States. So far no details of whatever conversation Ellingson might have had with the much-older Brandt are known, but apparently it didn’t take much for Brandt to conclude that he was dealing with a “Republican extremist.” Not surprisingly, local authorities say there is no evidence of Ellingson being any sort of extremist. He was attending a street dance prior to his fatal encounter with Brandt.
The story has engendered several types of fallout. PJ Media notes that the Associated Press covered the story of the murder, but left out the key detail:
“A driver charged with fatally striking a teenager in North Dakota allegedly told investigators he purposely hit the teen with his SUV after they had a political argument, according to court documents.”
Can you find the missing piece of data? I’ll let you read it again if you must, but pay attention to the words “political argument.” And of course, we know that Brandt told police he ran Cayler down because he was a “Republican extremist.”
But the Associated Press, which, it should be noted, feeds newsrooms across the nation, decided to omit the fact that Cayler was murdered by Brandt for allegedly being a Republican.
The AP wouldn’t want to interrupt its daily non-stop bashing of Republicans with what, to some, might seem like a counter-narrative.
Many are appalled that Brandt was released from jail on a $50,000 bond, for which he presumably paid a bail bondsman $5,000, as he awaits charges of vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of an accident. You might contrast that leniency with the treatment received by those who were arrested for protesting the 2020 election at (or in) the Capitol building, many of whom were held in solitary confinement, without bail, for months. Sadly, politics still plays an important role in law enforcement.
The broader issue here is whether political leaders like Joe Biden can be held accountable for irresponsible speech. No one is talking about banning speech: if Biden wants to allege, insanely, that the vast majority of Republicans (“MAGA,” the slogan of our 45th president) are dangerous extremists and likely traitors, he is free to do so. But that doesn’t mean that his vicious recklessness can’t have consequences.
Sure, the ones who take Biden’s words seriously and act on them, murderously, are marginal and mentally unbalanced characters, like the guy who tried to assassinate Justice Kavanaugh, and like James Hodgkinson, who shot up the Republican baseball team. (Although, to be fair, Hodgkinson was a respected member of the labor union movement and a Bernie Sanders volunteer who apparently showed no signs of mental deficiency until he tried to assassinate Congressional Republicans.)
But that is always true. Political leaders have a duty to conduct themselves in a measured and rational manner so as not to inflame the mentally unstable. Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and Democratic Party leaders generally have flouted that duty. The result has been political violence by their followers, and I am afraid there is much more violence to come.