Political Violence in New Hampshire?

By Chaz Proulx

 

NH Insider Readers: I wrote the following piece last week for the NH Union Leader. On Monday I discussed the idea of this piece with Drew Cline, the editorial page editor. He liked the idea and brought up the issue of time-sensitivity because Carol Shea-Porter was going to hold two live town meetings on Saturday and my idea was tied to that event.

 

I told Drew I’d write it right away, but told him I had to “clear the air” over past grievances with the U.L. editorial page first.” I couldn’t get motivated to write for five hours if my piece had no chance of being printed.

 

Specifically I brought an incident a four years ago when the Union Leader dropped a scheduled op ed of mine, because I’d had “words” with publisher Joe McQuaid. After that incident Drew Cline at least admitted what had happened. He told me “Joe wouldn’t duck it.”

 

I also brought up the fact that twice this month my comments to the Union Leader Web site had been blocked. I knew they got received my comments because long time U.L. employee Charlie Perkins sent me an e-mail after I protested. Charlie’s e-mail contained my comment.

 

I was satisfied that the air was clear and I would be treated fairly. I wrote the op-ed on Tuesday, and sent it to Drew. Drew sent me this e-mail.

 

Chaz,

 

Nice piece. I'll definitely run it. Not sure what day, though. Won't be tomorrow, no room. Will let you know.

 

Drew

 

There were a few more e-mails, all indicating a go.


But that’s as close as I got. Drew did not run it.

 

Fool me once...

 

I don’t know what happened but amongst other scenarios, I would imagine that the U.L. is loath to mention a political website. They don’t like the competition and if NH INSIDER spiked because of the attention to this article it wouldn’t make the bean counters happy.

 

Anyway, thanks to Richard Barnes for giving me permission to use quotes by him. Legally Richard’s work is in the public domain, but I preferred to tell him what I was doing and getting the green light from him. I was limited to 700 words so I couldn’t include Richards quotes in full context.

 

Oh, did I mention that the Union Leader editorial board is a bunch of cowards?

 

 

Political Violence in New Hampshire?

 

 

Recently the Union Leader, Portsmouth Herald and Nashua Telegraph ran editorials with a similar complaint—they took Carol Shea-Porter to task for not holding live town meetings during the August Congressional recess. Two of these editorials made reference to the days when an unknown Carol Shea-Porter earned a reputation by asking then-sitting Representative Jeb Bradley very tough questions at live meetings.

 

I’m an activist Democrat but I think that all three papers bring up legitimate points about the value of live town hall meetings. But I’m afraid that there’s is a glaring omission in each editorial.

 

It’s this: All three editorials fail to mention the very real and growing probability of political violence in NH.

 

Put another way--Jeb Bradley faced Carol Shea-Porter armed with tough relevant questions while Representative Shea-Porter and her followers and the public are facing armed, viciously angry and anonymous people.

 

What evidence do I have? Plenty—some firsthand. I’ve been threatened with death myself. What brought on the threat? I was wearing a Carol Shea-Porter hat at the recent Obama Town Hall meeting in Portsmouth. A protester and I had a few words, then he urged me to throw the first punch even though I had my hands behind my back. He followed by repeating, “I want to kill you.” I believed him.

 

That incident is anecdotal--more revealing evidence is just a mouse click away:

 

As some reading might know I wrote a Column for three years at NH INSIDER a predominately conservative web site. I was a “voice of the left” so to speak. Over the years I engaged in hundreds of debates in the comments section.

 

Richard Barnes, a conservative colleague at NH INSIDER has written extensively about gun rights and constitutional issues. Richard’s column is widely read--last week he was rated fifth in NH web traffic by Blog Net News.

 

Following the reports of guns at the recent Obama event in Portsmouth Richard wrote a series of articles on the subject including: Democrats Fear of Open Carry ( 1 and 2) and Guns Around Obama.

 

I engaged Richard in the comments section of his blog about this. We had a long discussion with many revelations, but it all boiled down to my last question and Richard’s answer.

 

Chaz question-----"Have we reached the point where armed patriots are going to go beyond threats?"

 

Richard’s answer ----“It wouldn't shock me if we had. People can only be pushed so far before they push back.”

 

Richard also believes that a number of people are carrying hidden weapons. He writes, “I'm aware of at least one person who went to both the Republican and Democrat debates during the election who concealed carried.”

 

A commentor to Richards column went even further stating: "BTW, for anyone confused, there may have been hundreds of people carrying guns at the event. If you don't think so, spend some more time thinking about it."

 

Frankly, I’d rather not have to think about it.

 

At least one prominent conservative shares my alarm and has the back bone to confront an ugly trend.. David Frum, the former (GW) Bush speechwriter and Republican strategist wrote a telling piece that appeared on August 13, in The Week.

 

In Frum’s words: “Nobody has been hurt so far. We can all hope that nobody will be. But firearms and politics never mix well. They mix especially badly with a third ingredient: the increasingly angry tone of incitement being heard from right-of-center broadcasters.”

 

Frum sites many examples including this: ”Just yesterday, the radio host Sean Hannity openly contemplated violence—and primly tut-tutted that if it occurs, the president will have only himself to blame.”

 

All this is only the tip of the iceberg of course. The evidence is all around us. Militia groups are on the rise and with a black President, racists are spreading their resentments onto fertile ground.

 

Lastly this: political murder happens. A year ago, on August 13, 2008, Bill Gwatney, the Chairman of the Arkansas Democratic Party, was gunned down in his office by a disgruntled man with a gun. No solid motive was ever reported.

 

I guess the man “snapped.”

 

Will someone snap here? The odds are rising every day.