Since when did a 78 year old professor at City University of New York represent such a threat to the republic that her ideas must be pummeled daily by Glenn Beck and violent threats aimed at her?
Never mind that [Professor Frances Fox] Piven’s radical plan to help poor people was published 45 years ago, when Mr. Beck was a toddler. Anonymous visitors to his Web site have called for her death, and some, she said, have contacted her directly via e-mail.
In response, a liberal nonprofit group, the Center for Constitutional Rights, wrote to the chairman of Fox News, Roger Ailes, on Thursday to ask him to put a stop to Mr. Beck’s “false accusations” about Ms. Piven.
“Mr. Beck is putting Professor Piven in actual physical danger of a violent response,” the group wrote.
Fox News disagrees. Joel Cheatwood, a senior vice president, said Friday that Mr. Beck would not be ordered to stop talking about Ms. Piven on television. He said Mr. Beck had quoted her accurately and had never threatened her.
“ ‘The Glenn Beck Program,’ probably above and beyond any on television, has denounced violence repeatedly,” Mr. Cheatwood said.
There, under cover of anonymous handles, scores of people have called for Piven's murder, even volunteering to do the job with their own hands. "Somebody tell Frances I have 5000 roundas [sic] ready and I'll give My life to take Our freedom back," wrote superwrench4. "ONE SHOT...ONE KILL!" proclaimed Jst1425. "The only redistribution I am interested in is that of a precious metal.... LEAD," declared Patriot1952. Posts like these are interwoven with ripples of misogyny, outbursts of bizarre anti-Semitism and crude insults about Piven's looks...
The Nation piece goes on to remind us that another of Beck's fans, Byron Williams, got to the point where he drove, armed and ready for combat, to find a Bay Area head of a non-profit which Beck had mentioned again and again in his broadcasts.
In July, Williams, a convicted bank robber, put on a suit of body armor and got in a car with a 9-mm handgun, a shotgun and a .308 caliber rifle equipped with armor-piercing bullets and set off for San Francisco. His destination was the Tides Foundation, which had been mentioned at that point in at least twenty-nine episodes of the Glenn Beck show, sometimes along with Piven. His goal, as he later told police, was to kill "people of importance at the Tides Foundation and the ACLU" in order to "start a revolution."
We are now several weeks out from the terrible day that Jared Loughner shot and killed six people and injured several others, including his intended target, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. And while we might not be able to draw a direct line connecting Loughner's apparent mental illness to the crosshairs and targets on Sarah Palin's map of political opponents she and Sharron Angle urged others to "take down," regardless, we're living in an age where online anonymity loosens inhibitions and the overheated rhetoric of ideological combatants is taken all too literally.
It's easy enough to be shocked when the violence erupts in that community *over there.* But how often do we speak up when it happens in our own back yards?
I'm talking about the ugly, violent, menacing threats that were leveled at our own MOMocrat, Erin Kotecki Vest on Twitter. Someone threatened to harm her and her children. Not just once, but repeatedly. With a firearm.
Now suddenly the talk of armed madmen (or trigger-happy, possibly disturbed hateful women) is not abstract. It is happening to someone I know and care about. Someone who I admire and has done amazing work. A woman who has a heart bigger than anyone I know, and the courage of a lioness.
It's coming at a time when Erin's health issues are weighing heavily on her and taxing the bravery of her family day in and day out to keep up a normal routine in the face of so many unknowns.
THIS WOMAN IS UNDERGOING CHEMO, for pete's sake.
And someone's reaching out to her in an unwanted, hostile way, and threatening her safety. It's not a personal axe this person is grinding, it's a political axe.
It's time to dial everything way back. It's time for everyone who knows Erin to say enough.
It's time for women who think and believe everything opposite to what Erin thinks and believes to nevertheless say, This is a human being who deserves to live in safety and privacy with her family. Free from threats.
This post on social media companies' reluctance to give information on users to law enforcement is particularly timely. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, in taking a civil liberties stance that government must not invade a user of social media's privacy in a cavalier way, unfortunately makes it potentially harder for people--mostly women--who experience online stalking to work with the authorities to stop harassment and threats. Social media companies should not clamp down on information that could help bring a person to justice a person who breaks the law with their threats and stalking.
The right of an individual who has a social media account to be free of government inspection of their data MUST be balanced with the right of a woman to be free from threats of physical violence and verbal abuse heaped on her by an anonymous person.
I'm not privy to many of the details of what Erin has experienced, obviously, but I hope for the sake of CEOs of social media companies that they are responsive and on top of this issue.
Cynematic blogs at P i l l o w b o o k.