Politics is one of those things that we have a bit of fun with up to a point, then it turns ugly and the fun turns to heartburn. Okay, that is the norm, it is what it is, what it has always been. I accept that, as I am certainly incapable of changing it. But there is a line. It isn’t even a fine line, but a broad, coarse line that should never be crossed. When, due to political disharmony, debate, disagreement, the families of candidates or others involved in the political process are threatened or harmed, that crosses the line. No if’s, and’s, or but’s … it crosses the line and anyone involved in it should be prosecuted and imprisoned. Period. No grace.
Colorado GOP Chairman Steve House began receiving death threats in the wake of the controversial republican caucus on March 1st. His home phone number was published by angry Trump supporters who were upset (to say the least) with the outcome of the caucus. Within hours, Mr. House had logged over 2,000 calls, some threatening harm to himself, and some to his family. FOUL. It is never appropriate to issue a death threat, not even in a moment of rage, not even in jest. Even the 1st amendment does not protect this type of speech. Now, I admit the Colorado caucuses are just about as confusing as any political contest in the nation and I do not fully understand it myself*. So, thus is the nature of politics, but you never threaten a person and you never ever threaten his family. Have I made myself clear on this? One particular threat against Mr. House himself went like this: “Do me a favor: Get your gun, put it in your mouth, pull the trigger, I’ll call you back in two minutes. If you can’t do that, I’m gonna send somebody over to the house and help you.” YU-HSI LEE, Think Progress, 14 April 2016
It doesn’t stop there, either. Trump’s own family, as I reported in an earlier post, was threatened when his son, Eric, received a threatening letter containing white powder. The powder turned out to be a harmless substance, but the letter threatened “harm will come to the kids” if Donald Trump did not pull out of the presidential race. Tom John, the Indiana GOP’s 7th District Committee Chairman received an anonymous email telling him that he is “being watched” after he told Politico that Trump “doesn’t represent what I want my party to represent.” Trump ally Roger Stone once threatened to send supporters to delegates’ hotel rooms if they switched from Trump to another candidate. What are we becoming? This is not the politicians, this is not the candidates, this is us. The people indulging in these acts are citizens, everyday average citizens. Politics is ugly, yes, but this is beyond ugly, it is beyond the boundaries of normalcy, it is unacceptable. The candidates, Trump in particular, have done more than their share to stir the pot, to bring about this culture of hysterics, of fear, of violence and hate. But that does not give us carte blanche to threaten anyone’s lives. We are better than this, or at least we are supposed to be.
There are some who are apathetic to these types of threats, and they are as guilty as the perpetrators. I immensely dislike Donald Trump, but I would never threaten bodily harm or death to him or his family. Those who would are a sub-human lifeform in my book. As a small child, I was taught sportsmanship. I was taught that it is just as important to be a gracious loser as a gracious winner. Apparently we no longer teach our children those values. No matter what Donald Trump says or does, and make no mistake, he is the most noxious, vitriolic candidate I have seen in my lifetime, neither he nor his children should need to fear for their personal safety, for their lives. Never the children.
* I plan to attempt to explain the process in a later post.