Editor's Letter: Hostility kills

Did Andrew Breitbart, the über-partisan Internet warrior, silence himself by loving the fight too much?

Hostility kills. Chronically angry men, studies have found, are three times more likely to develop heart disease, and six times more likely to suffer a heart attack before age 55. Feeling that you’re constantly at war with idiots and villains gets your body stuck in the fight-or-flight gear; a flood of hormones and toxins raises blood pressure, narrows arteries, and eats away at your innards. This all came to mind when I heard that Andrew Breitbart had suddenly fallen dead in the street at age at 43 (see Talking points). The über-partisan Internet warrior, said his friend Matt Labash in Weekly​Standard​.com, “was a man who both loved and hated with his whole heart.” The focus of his hate was “the Democrat media complex,” which he fought with ruthless abandon night and day, while delighting in infuriating those who hated him back. When he died, conspiracy theorists wondered if the White House had rubbed him out. A better question: Did he silence himself, by loving the fight too much? He leaves a wife and four children.

Breitbart was not alone on his battlefield. Twitter lit up with taunting celebrations of his demise, and on Rolling Stone’s website, crusading liberal Matt Taibbi wrote, “Good! F--- him. I couldn’t be happier that he’s dead.” In response, Breitbart allies published Taibbi’s home phone number, threatened his life, and vowed to defecate on his mother’s grave. And so it goes. For more of this kind of you-stupid-Nazi-moron vitriol, just scroll through the dozens—sometimes hundreds—of rage-filled reader “comments’’ on any political commentary on the Web. What grand fun it is to hate! Perhaps we should think a bit more about where rage is taking us.

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