When Dinesh D’Souza talks about sedition is he violating federal law?

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“It’s time for a new Republican Party to emerge that is willing to secede from the left’s cultural institutions and set up its own, author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza said during a Turning Point USA speech on Dec. 20.

“We need to go a little bit into a sort of wartime mode,” he said. “Not because we’re inherently militaristic, but because that is the reality of our situation.”

D’Souza relates the current situation in the United States to a ‘domestic cold war’ and that the political left—partly due to the right’s acquiescence—has become gangsterism.

‘By that, I mean they’re willing to go beyond and around and to subvert the normal rules of the game,” he told NTD’s ‘The Nation Speaks’ show. ‘They’re willing, for example, to shut down the speech of people they disagree with, they’re willing to manipulate legal and political institutions, they’re willing to use the police agencies of government against their opponents,

The real goal of socialists, he said, is to enforce conformity across all of society, not just the redistribution of wealth. Schools and universities are used to further their agenda on impressionable children and young adults,” theepochtimes.com reported.

Although we do not disagree with many of D’Souza’s comments, his discussion of seditious conduct (in a general and legal sense) sparked some readers’ questions. For example, when is it illegal to talk about sedition?

“The federal law against seditious conspiracy can be found in Title 18 of the U.S. Code (which includes treason, rebellion, and similar offenses), specifically 18 U.S.C. § 2384. According to the statutory definition of sedition, it is a crime for two or more people within the jurisdiction of the United States:

  • To conspire to overthrow or destroy by force the government of the United States or to level war against them;
  • To oppose by force the authority of the United States government; to prevent, hinder, or delay by force the execution of any law of the United States; or
  • To take, seize, or possess by force any property of the United States contrary to its authority”. Source: findlaw.com

Generally, a conspiracy exists when two or more agree to commit a crime, and an overt step is taken towards the advancement of that crime. It is not a crime to talk about committing a crime; steps must be taken towards the commission—for example, if the discussion is about robbing a bank, planning the get-away route, obtaining blueprints for the bank, etc., would satisfy the overt steps requirement. Moreover, in seditious conspiracy cases, the added requirement of force is necessary.

As stated, D’Souza’s remarks are protected under the first amendment, and he is not engaged in an illegal conspiracy.

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