Wisconsin’s budget situation has spawned chilling threats 

"We will hunt you down. We will slit your throats. We will drink your blood. I will have your decapitated head on a pike in the Madison town square. This is your last warning.”

That e-mail reached Wisconsin state Sen. Dan Kapanke, a La Crosse Republican, on March 9, after he voted for GOP Gov. Scott Walker’s controversial budget and labor reforms.

Other top Wisconsin Republicans have been threatened with death.

“Across the whole Republican caucus, I think we have received at least a dozen credible, specific death threats,” one well-placed legislative staffer in Madison told me.

Wisconsin’s Department of Justice has identified the sender of two specific death threats e-mailed to 15 Republican state senators March 10. Ponder the suspect’s chill- ing words:

  • Subject line — “Atten: Death threat!!!! Bomb!!!!” “We feel that you and your republican dictators have to die. This is how it’s going to happen:...We have all planned to assult you by arriv- ing at your house and putting a nice little bullet in your head. However, this isn’t enough...So we have built several bombs that we have placed in various locations around the areas in which we know that you frequent. This includes, your house, your car, the state capitol, and well I won’t tell you all of them because that’s just no fun.”

Consider these other death threats:

  • Police in Eau Claire, Wis., arrested anti-Walker protester Patrick J. Knauf, 43, on March 2. He allegedly phoned in a bomb threat against Heartland Aviation, where Walker conducted news conferences Feb. 28 and March 2.
  • On the morning of March 3, 41 rounds of .22-caliber ammunition appeared on the Capitol grounds in Madison. “You can’t do much with live ammunition without the gun,” said University of Wisconsin police Chief Susan Riseling, “but the presence of it doesn’t thrill me.”
  • Someone slipped a note under GOP state Sen. Glenn Grothman’s office door. In red letters, it said, “THE ONLY GOOD Republican is a DEAD Republican.”
  • Wisconsin Tea Party Patriots coordinator Mike Hintz told WISN- TV what happened when his cell phone rang Saturday: “There was a male caller on the phone and he said, ‘I hope you’re wearing a bullet- proof vest’ and hung up. I took it to mean this person was threatening my life by shooting me.”

Twitter features numerous calls for Walker’s murder:

  • Lauren Kauffman (Screen name — lauren_2121) wrote: “I hope scott walker dies. someone please shoot him?!”
  • Josh    Harmon    ( jritsynme): “Scott walker is destroying the state of Wisconsin!!! I wish a anvel would fall out of the sky and KILL the scumbag!!!”
  • Jeconti (J-Shack): “Scott walker cut food stamps its over he getting assassinated..!”

These death threats are doubly pernicious. At worst, they are truly homicidal. At best, even empty threats are anti-democratic, since they can intimidate elected officials, activists and other citizens into milquetoast governance and advocacy.

Deroy Murdock is a columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University.

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