The actor Peter Fonda went on a Twitter bender yesterday, using obscene and sexist language to describe members of the members of the Trump administration and invoking the specter of violent action against them and Donald Trump’s 12-year-old son, Barron.
In a string of now-deleted tweets, Fonda called both both Department of Homeland Security hed Kirstjen Nielsen and press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders a “gash”—helpfully explaining in the latter case that “gash is much worse than ‘cunt’”—and suggesting that the former should be “pilloried in Lafayette Square naked and whipped by passerby,” and the latter’s should be “deporte[ed] to Arkansas,” and her children given to “Stephen Goebbels Miller for safe keeping.”
Fonda went on to suggest mass protest outside the homes of ICE and CBP agents, as well as the schools their children attend. But his peak was a tweet which read, again in all caps, “WE SHOULD RIP BARRON TRUMP FROM HIS MOTHER’S ARMS AND PUT HIM IN A CAGE WITH PEDOPHILES AND SEE IF MOTHER WILL WILL STAND UP AGAINST THE GIANT ASSHOLE SHE IS MARRIED TO. 90 MILLION PEOPLE IN THE STREETS ON THE SAME WEEKEND IN THE COUNTRY. FUCK.”
Fonda’s comments were swiftly condemned across the board, and CNN confirmed that the Secret Service had been notified about the tweets, although a Secret Service spokesperson declined to say what if any action would be taken.
Donald Trump, Jr. who also retweeted several conservative commentators calling for Sony Pictures Classics to cancel this weekend’s release of Boundaries, a movie in which Fonda plays a small role—and as with Samantha Bee’s use of the c-word to describe another member of Trump’s family, they drew parallels to ABC’s cancellation of Roseanne after Roseanne Barr’s racist tweet.
In a statement, Sony Classics condemned Fonda’s actions, but said the movie’s limited release would proceed as planned.
Peter Fonda’s comments are abhorrent, reckless and dangerous, and we condemn them completely. It is important to note that Mr. Fonda plays a very minor role in the film. To pull or alter this film at this point would unfairly penalize the filmmaker Shana Feste’s accomplishment, the many actors, crew members and other creative talent that worked hard on the project. We plan to open the film as scheduled this weekend, in a limited release of five theaters.
According to people who’ve seen Boundaries, Fonda’s appearance in the movie amounts to around three minutes, so while his statements are vile and unacceptable, the parallel is a strained one, as are attempts to paint Fonda as a face of “the intolerant left.” As writer Mark Harris pointed out on Twitter, Fonda was quoted in 2011 saying he was “training my grandchildren to use long-range rifles. For what purpose? Well, I’m not going to say the words ‘Barack Obama,’ but ….” Trump, Jr. also attempted to draw a connection between Fonda and his sister Jane’s protest of the Vietnam War, which on the same day Trump’s father called an apparently long-haired protestor’s gender identity into question underlines how much mileage the Trumps have gotten out of reviving the cultural battles of decades and generations past. But Peter Fonda isn’t a representative of “the left,” any more than Boundaries is really his movie, and attempts to yoke them together should be rebuffed as strongly as Fonda’s statements themselves.