When Henry II was king of England in the 12th Century, he was always at odds with someone. His wife, Eleanor of Acquitaine, was often on his case, as were his three sons. But Henry thought his loyal friend, Thomas Becket, would remain loyal when Becket became the Archbishop of Canterbury. Becket took his religious duties seriously. His first loyalty was to the Pope, not to his friend, and King, Henry II.
This was 400 years before the Reformation, so both were devout Catholics. They were squabbling over, among other things, whether the King (a secular power) could bring criminal charges against priests (protected by holy power). Think of a medieval double jeopardy. It might seem quaint, but it was dead serious business. You have to remember at that time, the Church wasn’t just interested in souls. It had a hand in daily local politics. They needed money and power just as a King did, and often the Church was banging heads with kings.
Middle Ages squabbles were a lot like the reality show “Big Brother.” No cameras, but more blood. Tensions mounted as Becket kept frustrating King Henry. Henry, like many kings (and toddlers) wanted instant cooperation from his friend. One night he was so frustrated, he said something to the effect, “Who will rid me of this criminal cleric?’ Or maybe he said,”Who will rid me of this troublesome priest?” Never did he command, “Kill Becket.”
Seeing this question as a way to curry favor, if not a “nudge-nudge/wink-wink” command, four men assassinated Becket.
The Pope went ape. He excommunicated the killers. Then he gave them a chance at redemption by doing 14 YEARS on the crusade circuit in the Middle East.
What happened to Henry? The murder of his once-friend affected him deeply. Becket was made a saint a scant two years after his murder. Henry devised his own penance: he freely walked barefoot from London to Canterbury (66 miles) wearing a hair shirt. A hair shirt is the height of discomfort, as each hair pricks the skin a bit. It probably also had vermin in it. To make sure he suffered enough, Henry asked the monks of Canterbury to flagellate him.
Fast forward 900 years and Trumps remarks about the “Second Amendment crowd.”
Law enforcement people say, and I agree, that this could be construed as CodeSpeak for inciting violence. Trump wants it both ways: he wants to be able to send a coded message — and have deniability at the same time. Sorry, bub, that went out in 1170. If Henry II took the rap in 1170, Donald will have to take the rap in 2016 if so much as a bleached hair on Hillary’s head is grazed by a bullet.
As a Presidential candidate, his words carry more sway than an Average Joe’s. And if an average Joe had said, “Maybe the Second Amendment crowd should do something about Hillary,” the Secret Service would be patting him down. It’s doubtful anyone would act on Average Joe’s exhortations.
Donald Trump’s speech is not absolutely protected by the First Amendment. No one’s is. You can’t yell, “Fire,” in a crowded theatre. If Trump engages in hate speech, or in incites people to violence, he will be held accountable.
Every campaign has nutters, and the last thing a RESPONSIBLE candidate wants to do is encourage the nutters to pick up a gun. Sad to say, but Donald’s protestation of being misunderstood rings hollow to me. I know a threat when I hear it.
The difference between Henry II and Donald Trump? Well, yes, both were redheads who went gray but the comparison ends there. Trump cannot feel remorse; a medieval man did a very public, self-imposed penance. Donald doesn’t apologize.
And Trump ain’t king yet.