A state lawmaker from Montana responded to questions from a reporter about earlier statements he made regarding socialists, clarifying his remarks by stating he believed the Constitution required imprisoning or executing those who adhered to those beliefs.
There are no provisions related to anything specific about socialists or socialism, much less any relating to punishments for being a socialist, within the founding document.
During a Republican event on Friday, State Rep. Rodney Garcia, a Republican from Billings, said on stage that he’s worried about socialists being “everywhere” in Billings, and claims they’re “entering our government,” the Billings Gazette reported.
A reporter came up to him after those comments, and asked him to explain them a little bit more. From there, the lawmaker made his disturbing commentary about possibly executing socialist Americans over their beliefs.
“In the Constitution of the United States, [if] they are found guilty of being a socialist member, you either go to prison or are shot,” Garcia said.
When asked where in the Constitution such a provision could be found, Garcia could not name it to the reporter, but insisted it was in the document.
Asked if it was fair to jail or shoot a socialist, including those in his home state, Garcia said it was perfectly fine. “They’re enemies of the free state,” he said. “What do we do with our enemies in war? In Vietnam, all those. What did we do?”
— FOX 32 News (@fox32news) February 2, 2020
Garcia’s controversial statements were not shared by his fellow Republicans, who likely do not agree with the tenets of socialism either, but do not go so far as to say socialists should be executed either, the state party’s executive director, Spenser Merwin, said in a statement.
“Under no circumstance is violence against someone with opposing political views acceptable,” Merwin said, per reporting from the New York Times. “It’s disappointing that this isolated incident took away from the weekend’s events which showcased the strength of our statewide candidates and the importance of the upcoming election.”
Ironically, Garcia drafted a bill last year to raise $500 million in state revenue bonds to buy a coal-fired plant and operate it through the state. Socialism is, by definition, the state taking ownership of the means of production within an industry.
Garcia tried to justify his bill by saying it’d be good for the economy, The Helena Independent Record reported.
“My intention is just keep this open, running, keeping the economy strong in Montana,” Garcia said in January 2019. “That’s it.”