Note update, below.
Once upon a time, I lived in a foreign land, and in that foreign land, in the midst of a season of threats and dehumanizing rhetoric, that country's head of state was assassinated.
Anyone who lived in Israel in 1995 knows all too painfully the power of words. Indeed, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin assassination is probably a big piece of why I work so hard to maintain a civil level of discourse on issues ranging from Israel/Palestine to anti-women legislation in the US. After all, Americans know the power of words, too: Just look at the Gabby Giffords shooting. (Or, you know: Kennedy).
And so I am very glad indeed to learn that Ted Nugent's comment to the NRA that "if Barack Obama becomes the president in November again, I will be either be dead or in jail by this time next year" has been flagged by the Secret Service.
I'm on record as being constantly afraid for Barack Obama's life, but I'll be honest: I don't really think that Ted Nugent's about to take up arms against the President of these United States. He has a big mouth, and his life is now largely dedicated to trolling the America left. Whatevs, dude.
But the thing is, Ted Nugent is not the only American nutjob with a gun. I don't know if you've noticed, but as a nation, we are fairly bristling with guns, not to mention those who like to use them.
My concern is not that Nugent will storm the ramparts, but that someone listening to him will think that he offers a spiffing solution to the nation's problems, and oh hey! I have a big gun right here!
There are surely those who agree, and will continue to agree, that political violence is a good idea, especially when they hear the thundering silence from the right that refuses to condemn such rhetoric. But if the Secret Service makes its presence felt? It'll slow a few hands.
Look, I don't think we'll ever rid the world of the violent, the crazy, or the hateful. But we can, at the very, least make it abundantly clear that we as a nation do not sanction and will not support crazy, hateful violence. I don't know why Mitt Romney has remained silent, but I'm damn glad that the Secret Service hasn't.
Divisive language is offensive no matter what side of the political aisle it comes from. Mitt Romney believes everyone needs to be civil.
Really? That's it?
The man is talking -- loudly, and frequently -- about wanting to kill the President? And that's all you got? "Let's be civil," via the tried and true false equivalency of "both sides of the aisle"?
Dear Mitt Romney: You're even more craven, and useless, than I thought.