Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky is no stranger to personal attacks – be they physical or verbal, in person or on social media. He is not shy about promoting his beliefs, which puts his libertarian principles in the spotlight. The lawmaker recently received a suspicious package at his home containing a white powder and a threat against his life. Paul has spoken out against Twitter, blaming a tweet from 1980s pop rock singer Richard Marx for inspiring the incident.
The tweet by Marx followed a post from the senator reaffirming that he would not be getting the COVID vaccination. “I’ll say it again: If I ever meet Rand Paul’s neighbor I’m going to hug him and buy him as many drinks as he can consume,” the pop star wrote. Paul claims the message was “inciting violence” against him, which he insisted prompted the death threat.
In 2017, Paul was mowing his lawn when leaves blew onto his neighbor’s property, which reportedly provided an opportunity for a confrontation. Rene Boucher, 60, told the senator that he was tired of not being able to sell his house because Paul’s trees blocked the scenic view. Boucher assaulted the congressman. “I had six ribs broken,” Paul tweeted. “Three of them dislocated where they rubbed on each other for weeks and weeks till they healed. They damaged my lung. I had pneumonia twice.” He continued:
“A year later I was coughing up blood. I had to have a portion of my lung removed, then got an infection between the lung and the chest wall and almost died from and have permanent scarring of my lung and he’s offering a guy to buy drinks to somebody that will do it again and finish the job.”
The senator called Marx a “despicable human” and “an irrational idiot” who is “angry because I’m not getting vaccinated.” He says the former star’s tweet “sounds like he’s advocating violence.” He went on to bring up his presence at the congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, VA in June 2017 and the shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA). “I was at the ball field when a Bernie Sanders shooter almost killed Steve Scalise … so I’m sick and tired of the violence coming from the left,” Paul tweeted.
Paul had a few other observations on how Twitter is contributing to the harassment and threats to Republicans and conservatives:
“This is a private company that hates conservatives, hates Republicans.”
“They don’t want us on there and ultimately maybe the answer is Republicans need to just quit. We need to leave it.”
“Because every day they allow hundreds if not thousands of people to wish me and my family violence. And frankly, I’m tired of it.”
Being an outspoken Republican in today’s politically charged society can have consequences. On Aug. 27, 2020, the congressman and his wife were only a block away from the White House when an angry mob of around 100 people surrounded and harassed the couple. They had just left the Republican National Convention, where Donald Trump had spoken.
Mr. Paul was the first congressman to contract COVID and has been very clear that he refuses to get vaccinated against coronavirus, saying he should still have some immunity from when he was sick. Whether to get the COVID jab is a volatile debate. According to the congressman, refusal to get poked led to Marx’s tweet regarding the neighbor who assaulted him – and Twitter’s allowance of it – which inspired someone to send a death threat.
The white substance included in the package was considered non-threatening, though it is being tested further and an investigation into the situation is ongoing. Included in the bundle was an enhanced picture of Paul wearing a neck brace, a cast on one arm, and using a crutch. It also appears to have an illustrated rifle pointed at his head. The message on the picture reads: ‘I’ll finish what your neighbor started, you mother–ker.”
On May 24, Paul said in a statement:
“I have been targeted multiple times now, it is reprehensible that Twitter allows C-list celebrities to advocated for violence against me and my family. This must stop. Just this weekend Richard Marx called for violence against me and now we receive this despicable powder filled letter.”
Marx’s tweet was later condemned by the social media site. A spokesperson for Twitter told Daily Mail that “the tweet you referenced was in violation of our glorification of violence policy. The account owner is required to remove the Tweet.”
Read more from Kelli Ballard.