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Listen here to those Stupak voicemails: Free speech or hate speech? Pro-life or anti-the-living?

Brick through Democratic offices in Rochester NY holds a note saying

A coffin was placed on a Missouri Democrat Russ Carnahan’s lawn.

Gas lines were cut at the home of Virginia Democrat Tom Perriello's brother after a blogger posted the address online, thinking it to be the congressman's.

New York Democrat Louise Slaughter got a message from a caller saying snipers were being deployed to kill children of those who voted for healthcare reform.  In the nearby offices of the local Democratic Committee, a brick thrown through the front door held a note recalling Republican Barry Goldwater's 1964 infamous rallying cry: "Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice."

And then there are the phone calls to Michigan's Bart Stupak, an anti-abortion Democrat who provided the margin of victory for healthcare reform after President Obama agreed to an executive order explicitly banning federal funding of abortions. Take a listen.

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The FBI is investigating the death threats. Local prosecutors, even conservative ones who opposed the healthcare legislation, are looking to bring charges. But as members of Congress prepare to go home to their districts for the Easter/Passover recess next week, with members rattled over the violence, the political questions are equally riveting.

Is this free speech or hate speech -- constitutionally protected or criminal behavior? Was it caused by the media megaphone -- those 24/7 cable-news shouting shows -- or by rabble-rousing politicians like former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who after the vote posted this on Twitter: "Commonsense Conservatives and Lovers of America: Don't retreat. Instead RELOAD!" As New York Democrat Steve Israel wrote in his tweet back to her, "Reload? Is your choice of words inciteful or ignorant?" And don't forget House Republican Leader John Boehner, who said yes-vote Ohio Democrat Steve Driehaus "may be a dead man."  A spokesman explained Boehner didn't mean that literally.

Obama wasn't kidding when he thanked members of Congress for their courage.

Finally, why do some who call themselves pro-life show such little regard for the living? One caller to Stupak's office said, “Congressman Stupak, you baby-killing … I hope you bleed out your ... , got cancer and die.” Is this the language of someone who holds life dear?

For his part, Stupak is calling anti-abortion forces hypocrites for not embracing Obama's executive order. Noting that they applauded when President Bush signed an executive order limiting embryonic stem cell research, Stupak told the Catholic Daily Caller, "I question, did they want to protect the sanctity of life, or did they want to defeat healthcare?"

On the other side of the issue, women's groups are furious with Obama for giving Stupak and other anti-abortion Democrats explicit language outlawing federal funding of abortion. "He campaigned as a pro-choice president," said Terry O'Neill, president of the National Organization for Women. "It really pains me to conclude that ...  health reform ... has been achieved on the backs of women and at the expense of women."

But so far the women's groups haven't threatened to kill anyone.

-- Johanna Neuman

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Comments () | Archives (7)

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"But so far the women's groups haven't threatened to kill anyone."

Huh? Killing babies, left and right is OK, than?

Don't you know babies don't count, silly? /sarc

You gonna update to report on the shots fired at Eric Cantor's office too? Or is that okay because he's a Republican?

Oh good grief, even the Democratic Underground corrected itself for passing on the erroneous story of the coffin being left on Russ Carnahan's lawn. Politico also corrected the story... You're supposed to be in the business of fact checking, LAT; that doesn't mean going to Wikipedia. When you repeat falsehoods and gossip, it incites hateful responses. Don't be hatemongers. There are already enough of those.

"The coffin was used in a prayer service for the elderly who will suffer under Obamacare and for the unborn who will be aborted under this plan. The protesters prayed for their loss of freedom thanks to this nationalized democratic plan. The St. Louis tea party patriots also prayed for Russ Carnahan and democrats who were voting at that time to nationalize the health care industry.

The Politico made the accusation that the coffin was placed (and left) near Carnahan’s home. It wasn’t. The protesters were never on his lawn. They said some prayers at his house and then took the coffin with them when they left. It’s currently sitting in a garage."

This is disgusting. I oppose the bill but these people are just whack-jobs.

I will express my disappointment at the ballot box.

These people need to learn that will be much more effective than threats and violence as soon as the first few are caught and shipped to Gitmo where they belong.

Are these people absolute morons? A Congressman who stood firm in his beliefs about abortion is being vilified as a "baby-killer" after his stand forced the hand of the President to sign an executive order keeping federal funds from paying for abortion. If they had a single intelligent thought in their stunted brains they'd understand that he protected the pro-life position. This is so typical of the extreme right - essentially against EVERYTHING that our President proposes and Democrats support. The knee-jerk reactions are just plain stupid. And Palin! What a tool! She really is a horrible role model and should not be granted a forum for her hate speech. I'd be horrified if my children heard comments such as hers and thought that was acceptable speech directed at a group of people.

A majority of Americans want the HC bill repealed,and S. Palin is asking the
people to organize to do so by their vote in November.Ms.Newman seems
mainly interested in repealing Ms Palin as evidenced by her vitriol every time
she writes about her.

Pro abortion groups dont threaten..they just do the killing under the cover of
so called reproductive about reproductive accoutability?How
many were sacrificed on the altar of this PC bashing of motherhood ?
Abortion cheerers have no lessons to give on the sanctity of life.When abortion becomes a method of birth control...something is wrong.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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