I tend to think that the Internet, and the anonymity of e-mail, has made it easier for people to pose as tough guys, to offer a lot of big talk, to metaphorically pound their chest, to attempt to intimidate and make threats they would never dare to speak face to face.
Over at the Huffington Post, one of their contributors is trying to determine how seriously to take threats of violence at the Democratic Convention in Denver this summer. The messages include:
Rick, if the Machine tries to give the Clintons the victory at the convention, I swear to God,  Chicago’s going to look like a Sadie Hawkins dance. People my age are going to be throwing stones. We all have transportation — cell phones — disposable income — the Internet — free time — and Seattle as our example. Part of me is scared of a riot. Part of me isn’t. The nomination belongs to Obama. Do you think we’re going to let the Democratic Leadership Council take it? “God gave Noah the rainbow sign. No more water, fire next time.”
Not to mention that there’s going to be a significant Iraq veteran contingent at the convention, ready to rock ‘n’ roll. We’ve already had planning meetings about it — we’re going about it the same way that we would plan any decent military operation.
Put it this way: if she goes for the gold in Denver, she’ll have to claim the medal somewhere other than the Pepsi Center.
I can’t emphasize enough how potentially scary things could get — we’ve got folks working on the inside of the convention, and it’s all done on a cell basis, so that folks only know what they need to know.
I’m trying to keep everyone calm, as I just mentioned, but it’s getting harder and harder to do so. The mood’s getting ugly, and if we go to Denver without a nominee, the pressure’s going to be intense from without to nominate Obama. She can win the nomination, but it won’t be a prize worth having.
In the HuffPo comments section, a lot of people denouncing this talk, but also comments like:
“I’d rather have violence in the convention center in Denver — hell, I’d rather have Armageddon — than a bunch of corrupt pols overturning the will of the voters and handing the nomination to a candidate whose comeback has rested solely on negative ads and ugly politicking.”
“Violence is the only refuge against the people who refuse to let go of power.”
“American civic life was founded in violence. Jefferson openly advocated revolution every few generations to ensure that government responsive to the needs of the people. If the Party defies the will of the people, it should reap what it sows.”
This could just be more look-how-tough-I-sound boasting. On the other hand, after yesterday’s Times Square bombing, and the reports that it was tied to rambling anti-war messages sent to members of Congress… maybe threats of violence ought to be taken more seriously.
On a related note, my buddy Cam has some thoughts on Bill Ayers here.