Yesterday, a sitting US Congresswoman was targeted for assassination. Although she survived the attempt (at least so far), six other people were killed, including a nine-year-old girl and a sitting Federal judge.
There has been a great deal of protestation from right-wing groups, in particular the TEA party and its supporters, that they had nothing to do with it, and they are not to blame.
OK, guys, I will actually accept this, at least unless it turns out that the person who brought Jared Lee Loughner to the store had a political agenda.
Nevertheless, I am going to call you to task. Why? Because you are claiming to espouse political means to effect political change while simultaneously allowing and even encouraging people to make threats of armed violence in your name.
Actual political parties do not recommend "Second Amendment remedies." They do not exhort their followers to "Reload!" That's the kind of tactic used by groups like Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland. We rightly condemn that tactic as anti-democratic duplicity, if not terrorism.
For those of you who say the Tea Party isn't making any such threats, note that there are pictures here of two different protesters carrying signs at Tea Party Rallies threatening armed violence.
Or you might go to this website, where the "unarmed this time" t-shirt is being sold along with others, using the name of the Tea Party.
Some people may claim that the Tea Party cannot control the expression of ordinary members. Maybe not, but it can sue people who use its name on web sites to make threats, and organizers can absolutely insist that threatening signs not appear at rallies.
It's a question of legitimacy. Either you are a political group, dedicated to working within the law to change laws and regulations you do not like. Or you are a potential mob masquerading as a political group. You cannot have it both ways.
The decision is yours.