Frederick Francis Goltz was sentenced in August to 3.5 years in prison for threatening the lives of Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, County Attorney’s Office Civil Division Chief Tom Liddy, and election poll workers. These threats were based on conspiracy theories about the county’s election process, which were perpetuated by former President Donald Trump and his political allies. The term “stochastic terrorism” has been used to describe the actions of high-profile individuals who incite violence against other people or groups while maintaining plausible deniability.
Frederick Francis Goltz’s Election Conspiracy Sentence Highlights ‘Stochastic Terrorism’
In a recent case, Frederick Francis Goltz was sentenced to 3½ years for threatening Maricopa County election officials due to false narratives disseminated about Arizona’s elections.
Goltz’s beliefs were primarily fueled by former President Donald Trump’s unfounded claims about election fraud, echoed by individuals like Arizona’s fake electors, backers of the sham election audit, and Trump supporters such as failed governor candidate Kari Lake.
Stochastic Terrorism – A New Term Highlighting Political Danger
A recent Washington Post article highlights an alarming increase in threats to public officials since the 2020 election. This has introduced a new term to the American lexicon: “stochastic terrorism”, referring to a person of influence vilifying another group or individual in a way that could incite violence, yet providing plausible deniability for the instigator.
Arizona Politicians’ Role in Stochastic Terrorism
After classified documents were seized from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago, U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar tweeted, “We must destroy the FBI”. Shortly after, an Ohio man attempted to breach an FBI field office with an AR-15.
Kari Lake’s Threats and Stochastic Terrorism
Following Trump’s federal indictment, Kari Lake addressed Republicans in Georgia, stating that anyone attempting to target Trump would have to go through her and 75 million Americans. Many of these supporters, she claimed, are members of the NRA.
Trump’s Role in Stochastic Terrorism
Maricopa County Supervisor Bill Gates, diagnosed with PTSD, was threatened with death by those believing false narratives about election fraud. High-profile individuals who propagated these lies deny responsibility.
Trump continues to attack New York Attorney General Letitia James, recently calling her a “racist scoundrel”. After an appeals court hearing on his immunity from prosecution for trying to overturn the 2020 election, Trump suggested that a loss would result in “bedlam in the country”. Should violence occur, he will likely claim deniability, a classic example of stochastic terrorism.
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