I really like Tom Arnold. Actually, perhaps more accurately, I really like True Lies.
If you haven’t seen it, I highly suggest you look into the matter. Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a married-with-a-kid spy, and Tom triumphs as his wisecracking sidekick. Bonus: Jamie Lee Curtis dances around, proving to everyone she’s still “got it.”
My fondness for the movie and Tom’s comedic virtue makes me particularly bummed by his entrance into the political realm the last couple years. At this point, his left-wing (and, in particular, anti-Trump) comments protrude past his presence as an entertainer, which is usually less than optimal.
Due to a recent instance in which Tom actually challenged President Trump to a fight on social media, the Secret Service made a special trip to the actor’s house to see what he had in mind.
The October 19th tweet positioned Tom as a Champion of America:
“I say put up or shut up @realDonaldTrump Me vs You. For America. First body slam wins. Any Rally. Any Time. Between now & the midterms. #FridayFeeling”
— Tom Arnold (@TomArnold) October 19, 2018
Fast forward to the visit, which Tom videoed (see below).
A few excerpts:
Agents: We’re not the First Amendment police. … You’re free to say whatever you want to say, within boundaries. Once a certain line is crossed, that’s when we come out. So, in your type of case, what we’re concerned with…is the type of audience it could reach, that it could incite somebody.”
Tom: I did see a crazy reaction to it from people. I get a lot of death threats. There’s a certain element — I don’t know if they’re bots, but — I just ignore it. … But I also see how they take something and they blow it up like, “He is literally threatening to–” And I find that absurd, but I can see how– And obviously, if people are tweeting…they can call you guys and have you come over, that’s ridiculous. But I can understand why you’re here.”
The agents (whose comments are grouped below) explained the potential danger of a celebrity making threats against POTUS:
“It’s kind of twofold — we’re addressing the tweet, but we also want to make sure what you said, what could be taken as…okay, and then obviously, at the end of this whole thing, the biggest thing is to make sure it doesn’t happen again. … What we have to worry about is your type of audience, is you say something inciting those that follow you. You might be using it in a comedian-type sense or whatever — you know, being very comical about it — but there’s a lot of people out there who may really follow Tom Arnold: ‘He said this, and that’s the exact thing, I needed that. I need to go get this and go ahead to the next rally and carry this out.'”
Tom tweeted about the visit, complete with an “I remain undeterred” sort of sentiment:
My statement about the Secret Service visit to my house: pic.twitter.com/BFOht796aW
— Tom Arnold (@TomArnold) November 26, 2018
Honestly, how did we get here? Do you recall any Old Hollywood stars challenging the President of the United States to a fight? Or threatening to punch him in the face? Or yelling obscenities at him before a national audience (here and here)?
What has happened to celebrities? And I’m not referring to Tom, but rather, Tinseltown in general. It seems to me that we’ve reached Code Red with regard to the cacophony of voices showing stunning disrespect for the presidency. When the Secret Service is having to look into the antics of people paid to say words someone else wrote or our pure enjoyment, we’ve really derailed. If politics is indeed downstream from culture, we need a greater civility from those who live at its epicenter. And with that civility, I hope we also get a bonus: informed opinion. Or, if we’re really lucky, no opinion. It’s what Elvis got right — he’s an entertainer, not a politician. I miss Elvis; when it came to politics, he was nothin’ but a hunk o’ Burning Love.
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