Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Lunatic Fringe?

Decades ago, when I was in the restaurant business in Charlottesville, we affectionately used the term "L.F" (meaning the Lunatic Fringe) to refer to customers who just needed to make life unpleasant for other people. Such people do exist, but they are generally harmless.


A WMRA listener sent us this post from Politico last night. The blog referred to in the article can be found at this link:
Tea partiers told to 'drop by' Perriello's home
By: Andy Barr
March 22, 2010 10:20 PM EDT
A tea party organizer angry over Rep. Thomas Perriello’s (D-Va.) vote in favor of health care reform published what he thought was the freshman member’s home address on a blog, in case any readers “want to drop by” and provide a “personal touch” to their views.
Rather than giving out Perriello’s address however, the tea party activist mistakenly printed the home address of the congressman’s brother. Perriello’s brother and wife have four children under the age of 8.
In the post, the author gives out the address to his “friends” in Perriello’s district.
“Just in case any of his friends and neighbors want to drop by and say hi and express their thanks regarding his vote for health care,” the author writes. “I personally believe it’s so important for representatives to remain fully grounded and to remember exactly what it is their constituents are saying and how they are telling them to vote. Nothing quite does that like a good face-to-face chat. It has a much more personal touch to it.”
The post does not have a byline but was published on a blog run by an organizer for the Lynchburg Tea Party, a member of the group confirmed to POLITICO. There is no contact information on the blog, but POLITICO has been able to trace the blog to Mike Troxel, an organizer for the Lynchburg Tea Party who has been active in the organization since it launched last year.
In an interview with POLITICO, Troxel admitted to writing the post and said that he has no intention of removing the address from the blog.
Troxel found the address through a directory website and said he would only replace what he currently has on the blog with an address provided by Perriello’s office.
“If they would like to provide me with the address of Tom, then I’d be more than happy to take it down,” he said. “I have no reason to believe it’s not his house.”
“We’re pretty ticked off he voted for it,” Troxel said.
Troxel, a 2005 graduate of Liberty University, added “I was a journalism major in college, so I have every reason to believe my research is accurate.”
Kurt Feigel, who frequently works and communicates with Troxel and runs a companion blog, told POLITICO that he has no issue with Troxel posting what he thought was a congressman’s home address.
“They have our home addresses. I don’t have a problem with it,” Feigel — a fellow tea party organizer — said during a phone interview. “I don’t think it’s a good thing if it’s not [Perriello’s] address. But I don’t have a problem with posting his address.”
Feigel justified Troxel’s decision to post the home address by saying that Perriello’s office does not “respond to e-mail, they don’t respond to letters, they don’t respond to us showing up at his office. So what am I going to do?”
“We should be protesting on his front lawn. He betrayed his district,” Feigel added.
The post is time-stamped for Monday. Perriello’s office first learned of the post on Monday afternoon and immediately called the congressman’s brother.
Nobody has stopped by the house yet, but the family had lamps stolen out of their yard this weekend as Perriello — a moderate who sided with the majority in passing the bill — weighed how to vote. The congressman’s office did not know if the events are related.
An aide for the congressman posted a comment to the blog asking that the address be removed. The comment has been taken down with no correction to the post or any explanation. Troxel said he never saw the comment.
Perriello’s office declined to comment.
© 2010 Capitol News Company, LLC
I am certainly not saying that all Tea Partiers are flirting with membership to the L.F. There is a great deal of legitimate, conservative concern about policy being expressed among its diverse membership. But it does seem as though Mike Troxel's purpose in making that particular post was to make the brother of one of our elected representative's life unpleasant, don't you think?

If this post had been an isolated example of L.F. behavior done in the name of political protest, I would have deleted it and not passed it on to you. But coming on the heels of the Tea Partiers' racist slurs and homosexual taunts slung at members of Congress; and, even more distressingly to me, the behavior of some of our elected representatives on Sunday, as reported by The Washington Post's Dana Millbank.
As lawmakers debated their way to a vote on the legislation, dozens of GOP lawmakers walked from the chamber, crossed the Speaker's Lobby, stepped out onto the members-only House balcony -- and proceeded to incite an unruly crowd.
Thousands of conservative "tea party" activists had massed on the south side of the Capitol, pushing to within about 50 feet of the building. Some Democrats worried aloud about the risk of violence, and police tried to keep the crowd away from the building.
But rather than calm the demonstrators, Republican congressmen whipped the masses into a frenzy. There on the House balcony, the GOP lawmakers' legislative dissent and the tea-party protest merged into one. Some lawmakers waved handwritten signs and led the crowd in chants of "Kill the bill." A few waved the yellow "Don't Tread on Me" flag of the tea-party movement. Still others fired up the demonstrators with campaign-style signs mocking House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
It seems to me the time has come to ask ourselves if what we've always considered unacceptable political protest is becoming more wide accepted. And if so, is it  really the best way  to conduct the country's business.

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