In yet another side to the healthcare arguments, following the vote on HR3590 over the last couple of days, members of the public have been reasonably and rationally discussing their views on proposed changes to the legislation and its possible consequences.
Just kidding, many of them have been issuing threats of violence against both Democrat and Republican members of Congress and vandalizing members' offices and Democratic Party offices. In a not-so-shocking turn of events, unknown perpetrators have broken windows, spray painted doors, faxed death threats, and made vitriol-laced phone calls to at least ten Democrats and two Republicans. A short summary:
- Just hours after the vote on HR3590, vandals either shot out or smashed the windows to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' (D-AZ08) Tucson district office with either a blunt object or a pellet gun (they're not sure).
- Two days before the historic vote, an unknown person or persons threw a brick through the window of Rep. Louise Slaughter's (D-NY28) district office window. The Congresswoman, the Chair of the House Rules Committee, was a high-profile supporter of the healthcare bill.
- Either the day before, or the day of, the vote, vandals threw another brick through the Monroe County Democratic Party Headquarters offices in Rochester, New York.
- Saturday, the mainstream media had multiple reports of "Code Red" protestors calling Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) a "nigger," Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) a "faggot," and spitting on Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO).
- Sunday, outside the Capitol Building as the House debated the bills, Tea Party protestors could be seen holding signs reading, "If Brown Can't Stop It, A Browning [gun] Can" in obvious reference to gun violence against passage of the reform bill.
- Monday, someone spray painted in red paint the word "DORKS" across a window of the Knox County Democratic Party Headquarters in Mt. Vernon, Ohio. Seriously, "DORKS?"
- Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH) released a phone call recording within the past day of a person accusing Republicans of being racists.
- Rep. Eric Cantor's (R-VA) staff discovered that a bullet had pierced the window of the congressman's Richmond campaign office building window. Police said this particular incident was caused by a bullet having been fired into the air and happening to land in that particular building, so there is a strong likelihood it may not have been vandalism in response to the bill's passage.
- Rep. Anthony Weiner's (D-NY) office in Queens, NY, was sent a package containing a suspicious white powder and a note mentioning his "yes" vote on HR3590. Field tests on the powder confirmed it was not hazardous, but still... you don't mess around with that kind of thing!
- Rep. John Boccieri (D-OH) received telephone threats during the week, and Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (D-FL) also received emails urging her to commit suicide and mentioning that her family should "rot in Hell."
- Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) received plenty of threats, including a fax with a picture of a noose and gallows with the name "Bart (SS) Stupak" on it, and epithets condemning his switch to a yes vote for reasons regarding abortion funding.
- In Virginia, someone cut a gas line leading to a grill at the home of the brother of Rep. Tom Perrillo (D-NC) after the brother's address was posted online by angry activists.
Having worked in a Congressional district office myself, and having received phone calls calling me practically everything you can think of by people who weren't mad at me, per se, but at the Congressman in whose office I happened to be answering phone calls, and having my co-workers receive threatening emails, and having my office get shot at (for a non-political reason), this kind of behavior by either Democrats or Republicans is completely uncalled for. It's stupid, and it's definitely not going to change anything. If anything, it'll make people less likely to listen to well-reasoned arguments from fringe groups because they will forever be associated with this type of idiocy.
Majority Leader John Boehner and Speaker Nancy Pelosi may not have agreed on anything else within the past week, but when they both condemned such "activism," it was definitely the right thing for them to do. Similarly, Tea Party groups are also denouncing this type of behavior by anyone, in the hopes that their members are not behind any of these acts.
Seriously, people... you surely can come up with a better argument than "brick + window = debate" to express your dissatisfaction on the healthcare reform bill.