Since our community and political leaders can’t seem to muster what it takes to draw the line against our increasingly violent “legitimate” political discourse, allow me to insist this has already gone too far.
The only difference between me and the rest of the region, exhausted and repulsed by the seemingly endless political delirium overtaking everything these days, is that I have no choice but to wallow in it. It’s my job.
I feel for those of you who nearly gag when news turns to whatever new nuttery someone has actually been elected to public office disgorges.
It’s frequently some ridiculous tripe that any normal person would attempt to say only as risky satire or to be funny in a bully-ish, fourth-grade kind of way.
But you have to pay attention now. Please. We all do.
There’s a growing number of people who don’t just whisper appalling, dangerous and malevolent things these days. They broadcast it. They repeat it. They defend it. They even demand it.
Sometimes the threats are only slightly demure and couched in what on the surface might appear to be acceptable, even laudable, expressions of freedom and democracy.
For years, employees of abortion clinics have been targeted at their homes, outed by “pro-life” extremists who purposely seek to horrify neighbors and extort doctors and nurses.
Not so long ago, a band of protesters, rightfully repulsed by the killing of Elijah McClain at the hands of police, wrongfully targeted the home of an Aurora council member. They lured Councilmember Francoise Bergan into a front-yard confrontation that she courageously but dangerously engaged in.
Those acts are tame compared to where our community has gone in the past several months.
Recently, the superintendent of Littleton Public Schools received death threats after two teenagers in the district produced videotapes of them lying to get around parental consent for COVID-19 vaccine. They wanted to make it appear a school vaccine clinic ignored the wishes and consent of parents. It was a scam that unnerved Superintendent Brian Ewert and others after it prompted serious threats of violence. One person threatened to inject him with a syringe full of anthrax, as reported by the Douglas County News Press.
Flirting with the threat of violence or outright insisting on it has now become a thing too many people gloss over among the morning headlines.
Douglas County Schools has become a hotbed of abhorrent behavior by adults, supposedly acting on behalf of kids, while in reality, acting like them.
Former Arapahoe County DA George Brauchler last week took to social media and his radio talk-show to jump into a fray.
He insisted that teachers be outed who faked a sick day in order to protest the repugnant and possibly illegal firing of the schools superintendent. He said “someone” should use state open record laws to find out which teachers called in sick on the day of the protests and publish the list so parents could “confront” the teachers.
He said it wasn’t meant as a threat, or revenge, or extortion, or any of things that threatening to doxx someone actually is. He said it was for the sake of “transparency” and “accountability.”
So someone did just what he suggested. At press time, the request for the list of errant teachers hadn’t been released, nor the identity of the person who demanded it, nor how much they paid the school district to get it. School officials said the request has been withdrawn. They also told 9News reporters another request for the same information may be on the way.
Tactics like this were common in the 1950s during the Sen. Joe McCarthy era, where people associated with causes that displeased neo-fascists were regularly outed and doxxed.
The current wave of extremism seems to breed even more of it. This week, a live Cherry Creek School board meeting was changed to a virtual event after the district received threats of a bombing.
And the metro area pretty much yawned.
Why wouldn’t they? Just days before a group of far-right extremists met in Castle Rock to dive even deeper into Trump’s Big Lie about election security, which seems to be the equivalent of communal meth for violent Republican extremists.
A group calling itself FEC United — standing for Faith, Education and Commerce — borders on becoming a terrorist organization after leaders repeatedly call for public hangings of those they disapprove of, and members of the group cheer them on.
During a Feb. 10 meeting at a Castle Rock church, FEC United speaker Shawn Smith told the group that Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold should hang for what he and others say is persecuting those perpetuating election fraud claims in the name of Donald Trump. “I think if you’re involved in election fraud, then you deserve to hang…,” Colorado journalist Chase Woodruff first reported. He relentlessly reports on FEC United events and broadcasts. “I’m not endorsing violence, I’m saying when you put your hand on a hot stove, you get burned.”
The crowd noisily approved of that message, and so did discredited Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters. She’d showed up at the FEC United meeting the same day she was arrested earlier in Grand Junction for ignoring police commands and trying to kick an officer during her arrest on misdemeanor charges. Those charges were relatively unrelated to her current investigation for spurious pro-Trump things she’s admitted she did as her county’s election chief.
The FEC United repeated chants for hangings comes from the top. Leader Joe Oltmann regularly in one breath calls for hanging those who commit transgressions against his faithful flock, and then he denies ever saying such a thing. He then “points out” that hanging is the penalty for “treason.” And if you have it coming…
Oltmann, who has repeatedly threatened reporters and others who oppose him, takes his cues from the top of the extremists’ food chain: Trump.
Oltmann not only insists that execution is appropriate for election officials but journalists, too.
Next on 9News host Kyle Clark has recently taken up the cause of regularly shining a light on local right-wing extremists’ growing push for violence. In one report, Clark revisited some of Oltmann’s more worrisome threats.
“Flanked by Republican elected officials and candidates in 2020, conservative leader Joe Oltmann of Douglas County warned journalists, “We’re coming for you… If you’re part of the media and you write something bad about us, better take your byline off it.”
The report, which originally came from Colorado Times Recorder reporter Erik Maulbetsch, was a quick reminder of how Trump regularly referred to reporters as “enemies of the people” and dismissed anything he didn’t like as just “fake news.”
The only reason these extremists continue their violent threats of terrorism, is because political leaders allow it.
Peters and Oltmann are mentally unstable and dangerous, yet Colorado Republican leaders and rank and file either look the other way or outright defend their right to those very public opinions, unopposed.
They’re warped in ways that history has repeatedly shown results in nothing but chaos, death and misery for everyone.
It’s not enough to just roll our eyes at this sick and crazy talk. All of us, and especially conservatives, have to step up and speak out against threats of violence, as well as the wink-wink-nudge-nudge-it’s-just-a-joke discussion about outing teachers, health-care workers, journalists and those the far right see as a threat to their political ideals.
Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected]
You Sir do have a choice, though you state that you do not. You can change jobs or change the focus of this job, as you are the boss. You claim you have to wallow in strident, extreme, partisan discourse. I would say that rather than wallow in it you revel in it as it is frequently you trying to drive a narrative. Your language is often conflated, throwing gas on the fire to warm your soul and to advance your narrative. You are no more excused from your actions because “it is your Job” than are many who blame their inhumanity on their position, who are just following protocol or orders. Stop trying to pretend you are a reluctant warrior, you are an enthusiastic volunteer, not a draftee.
None of the foregoing negates the rest of your missive, of course.
We are all forced to wallow.
That’s what happens when your political opponents decide to stop being apathetic and engage your side with vigor, Joe.
I am delighted that this journalist has taken up the cause of enlightening us about the real and current dangers of right wing extremism. Other ‘news’ organizations have tried to establish a false equivalency between progressive demonstrations and right wing violence and intimidation. There is none.
Keep up the good work, Mr. Perry and Publius, put away the thesaurus and pay attention to what’s around us.
“I am delighted that this partisan Democrat news editor said a bunch of things that I already agree with.”
I do try to pay attention. What I see around us is two tribes so angry, hateful, disgusted and distrusting of one another that they cannot see any worth or humanity in the members of the other tribe or in the beliefs and dreams of the other tribe. I see them gleefully engaged in battle on the deck of a burning ship. They would rather battle to win rhetorical points than cooperate to address even their mutual survival. I try to retain hope that all will wake from their shared delusion in time to cooperatively work on our immediate and long-term survival but their desire to be thought of as “right” is more important to them than seeing worth in their fellow travelers through life and finding commonality. I fear we will all wake only when it is too late.
Right now each tribe is so caught up in winning against the other that they fail to see that there is no winning without the other.
It’s the never ending contest…which is more powerful…which is more righteous…the pen or the sword. This is not a new concept.
If it’s war, the sword wins. If it’s pre-war the pen wins. It’s a never ending struggle. The far left media threatens with words the far right who do not have media threaten with violence. Seems to me a fairly simple situation in a very complex society. People use what tools are available to them and rarely do opposing sides have the same tools.
When the war comes, David, you will be part of the problem that started it and should begin to accept that as a fact. It will be the violent right wingers who fire the first shot, though. War, indeed, is hell.
Hmmmm, please quote instances in which the ‘far left’ media called for violence, or insurrection. Indeed, please identify members of the ‘far right’ media.
And why war, Dick?
Probably because your side can’t rein in its will to power, Gene, and whines when your political monopolies are challenged.
I agree with the idea that we must curb the craziness. Now, if you will strongly apply the same standard to the woke violence and the looters and violent rioters associated with BLM, we can start to get somewhere. The tactics of crucifying anyone who speaks against the woke agenda or who speaks In any way contrary to the social justice agenda are just as evil as the radical right agenda. Let us stick to the first amendment and go after those who actually present harm to others. That means both sides. If you don’t like someone’s ideas, don’t listen. Voltaire said, “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”. The left has the idea that they can control what everyone says and thinks. Silly and dangerous. The right has a violent objection and their share of wacky ideas. Recognize that the woke legislature has done more harm to all of us with their police reform bill and their crusade for social justice above all else. They won’t touch that.
BLM is so ancient history. Why haven’t you moved on? The anarchy is now being foisted by those on the right.
Who’s getting “crucified” for speaking against the (nonexistent) “woke” agenda?
And who relies on phony “militias”” and plots to kidnap governors? Who claims vaccination is “unconstitutional”, while never pointing to anything in the Constitution to back this up? Who wants to criminalize education that teaches accurate history? Who works their damnedest to make it harder and harder for anyone who’s not a Republican to vote?
Don’t blame others for the faults of the Right. No one made them lose their collective mind. No one made them try to unconstitutionally seize power when they lose elections.
The Constitution isn’t a menu where one can pick and choose just the parts they like and ignore the rest. The Right would know that if they’d ever read it.
“And who relies on phony “militias”” and plots to kidnap governors?”
“Who claims vaccination is “unconstitutional”, while never pointing to anything in the Constitution to back this up?”
It’s not the shot, it’s the mandates to take it when it doesn’t actually prevent the population from getting sick.
“Who wants to criminalize education that teaches accurate history? “
Who wants to teach white kids that their skin color is a form of original sin and that even if they’re born dirt-poor, they’re still privileged and racist?
“Who works their damnedest to make it harder and harder for anyone who’s not a Republican to vote?”
He typed while living in Colorado, where all the state-wide offices are controlled by Democrats.
“The Constitution isn’t a menu where one can pick and choose just the parts they like and ignore the rest. The Right would know that if they’d ever read it.”
The Supreme Court held mandates were constitutional in 1905.
Why is the Red state response to Democratic victories to immediately try to pass new laws making it harder for Democratic areas to vote?
Who is teaching anyone that their race is an “original sin”?
Why are Florida and Texas trying to outlaw teaching that “causes discomfort” to white kids? Why are Red states so afraid of accurate history?
Know how I learned about the Tulsa race massacre of 1921? Neither I nor anyone I know had ever heard of this incident. White kids growing up in Tulsa never heard of it. I found out about it from a guy whose family had been owners of a daily Tulsa newspaper in the 1920s. He went to the files of the newspaper and discovered every reference to the riot, which the paper had reported, had been deleted. There were benign advertisements where the original stories had been.
Oh, and btw, Colorado sure wasn’t a Blue state when I moved here in the late ’70s.
“The Supreme Court held mandates were constitutional in 1905.”
Those were for vaccines that actually prevented people from getting sick.
“Why is the Red state response to Democratic victories to immediately try to pass new laws making it harder for Democratic areas to vote?”
Why is the Democrat partisan begging the question?
“Who is teaching anyone that their race is an “original sin”?”
Your fellow neomarxists.
“Why are Florida and Texas trying to outlaw teaching that “causes discomfort” to white kids? Why are Red states so afraid of accurate history?”
This coming from the same guy who whined that Douglas County had so many white people.
“MUH TULSA RIOT sperging”
Sorry you had such a poor educational upbringing. I got to learn how the African slave trade was facilitated by Arabs, Berbers, and sub-Saharan tribes long before Europeans started the Atlantic version.
“Oh, and btw, Colorado sure wasn’t a Blue state when I moved here in the late ’70s.”
The late 70s? You mean when Dick Lamm was the governor, and Gary Hart and Floyd Haskell were the Senators?
Yes, Colorado was a moderate state back then, but I’m sure to a Boomer neomarxist, that seemed like it was conservative.
False equivalency, as always.
It is inestimably sad that the far right attempts to justify their outrageous comments and behavior by trying to point to their opponents being responsible for those comments and behavior. Will we ever be able to unite as a country? Just because you are “pissed off” about something does not justify participating in or encouraging angry discourse.
To answer your question, no we cannot unite. They will make sure we do not.
That would require having facts. The right wing doesn’t believe in facts: After all, they champion a thoroughly corrupt ignoramus who told over 30,000 documented lies when he was in the White House.
Facts are kryptonite to the Right.
Take a look at all of the political violence as of late. Who is choosing to threaten violence? Who is caught with weapons and ammunition on the way to carry out violence? Who is on the airwaves condoning or defending violence? All right-wing conservatives. Name one SPECIFIC story where it is a liberal is caught doing any of the above. No, not some vague “antifa-BLM” crap, but one SPECIFIC story, much at least three a day, where some loon is threatening political violence. And none of this liberal media excuse, either. There are police reports available for proof.
You won’t find it. In this country there is no “both sides” when it is only one political party that accepts and encourages its members to kill their opponents under the guise of freedom.
As usual, Dave is spot on. I keep thinking that someday we’ll wake up and we’ll be told that this has all been one big nightmare.