wo Virginia Tea Party activists posted what they said was Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA)'s home address Monday, urging people upset over health care reform to go "drop by" and "express their thanks" for the Democrat's "yea" vote. The next day, the house — which actually belongs to Perriello's brother, Bo — was vandalized; the FBI and local authorities are investigating a severed propane line that Bo and his family say they discovered on their screened-in porch Tuesday. (Watch Tom Perriello's comments on the incident.) While no charges have been filed, some commentators are alleging that Tea Partiers have taken political activism too far:
This was a clear "assassination attempt": Venting a flammable gas at what you're told is a politician's home "has to be viewed flatly as terrorism and political violence," says Jeff Fecke in Alas a Blog. Conservatives need to strongly warn Tea Partiers that violence isn't justified, since they've spent a year whipping up hysteria that health care reform is "literally a communist plot to destroy America."
Why are only conservatives "terrorists"? So now that it's Tea Party activists giving out politicians' home addresses instead of "radical leftists," as in the Bush years, says Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit, the "state-run media" is "going berserk." Look, if it's not terrorism to "stalk" Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, urging people to merely "go visit this socialist at home" isn't, either.
"State-run media accuses Tea Party organizer of terrorism for posting congressman’s address"
This crosses a red line: Threatening "innocents" who had nothing to do with this push to "trample on our liberties" simply "cannot be tolerated," says conservative blogger Confederate Yankee. By all means vent your "righteous anger" at the "craven" Democrats — shout obscenities at your congressman, or even "hang him in effigy" — but leave their friends and relatives out of it.
"Rules of engagement"
It's not just Tea Partiers: It's great that Republican leaders are now condemning the violent threats, says Charles Cooper at CBS News, but their "rhetorical fury" is part of the problem. When GOP chief Michael Steele calls for putting Nancy Pelosi on the "firing line," and Sarah Palin urges conservatives to "reload" to defeat Democrats (and superimposes rifle cross-hair graphics on Dems' faces), they're pouring gas on a fire they helped light.
"Chickens coming home to roost in health care debate?"
[UPDATE: Law enforcement officials report a white powder was mailed to the Queens office of Rep. Anthony Weiner (D - NY) accompanied by a note referencing his health care vote.]
PREVIOUS OPINION BRIEFS ON THIS TOPIC:
• Is the Tea Party "disturbingly racist"?
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why is American internet so slow?
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- 7 ways to be the most interesting person in any room
- Colorado’s new ‘drive high, get a DUI’ commercials are actually pretty clever
- What the collapse of the Ming Dynasty can tell us about American decline
- 22 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Ukraine's fraught relationship with Russia: A brief history
- Here are the people who want to take a one way trip to Mars
- Sorry Belle Knox, porn still oppresses women
- 10 classic Sesame Street moments we wouldn't show today's kids
Subscribe to the Week