Threats against political leaders can't be tolerated

The FBI is wisely taking these threats seriously.


Political debate in America has become uncivilized far too often.

Sadly, the level of animosity seems to be growing by the day.

Last week, a 63-year-old Selah man was arrested for allegedly threatening to kill U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., because of her support for the health-care reform bill.

In an affidavit filed in federal court, FBI agents said Charles A. Wilson threatened Murray's life in a series of obscenity-laced messages left on her office voice mail in the days following Senate passage of health-care reform.

"I hope you realize there's a target on your back now. There are many people out there that want you dead," one message said. "Now that you've passed your health-care bill let the violence begin."

This is not an isolated incident.

A California man was also arrested last week on charges he threatened a member of Congress -- U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Gregory L. Giusti was charged with making harassing and threatening phone calls to the California Democrat.

Anonymous threats were made to other members of Congress, including some Republicans. The health-care debate was -- and continues to be -- very emotional.

These threats of violence are hardly a surprise given the way political discussion has become so personal. When people disagree on issues they have taken to insulting one another.

The verbal personal attacks are growing uglier by the day. Words banned on playgrounds are now becoming mainstays in political debate.

Even the back and forth in Congress, once focused almost exclusively on public policy and the issues, has gotten out of hand. Members are using foul language and behaving badly even while in session.

Perhaps these threats and subsequent arrests will open the eyes of society to see this can't continue.

It's clear the FBI, as it should, is taking these threats seriously. No longer are threatening insults being dismissed as mere rhetoric. In the future threats against political leaders will be like threats in airports.

Yes, let's discuss the important issues facing this nation, but let's do so with civility and sanity. Threats have no place in political debate.

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