A renewed, and legitimate, call for civility in public discourse was issued after the tragic 2011 shootings of then-U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, members of her staff and innocent bystanders by a young man, later determined to be mentally ill.
Early reports after the Saturday, Jan. 8 crimes seemed to point fingers at the inflammatory environment of political extremes. While that was proven false in the Giffords tragedy, the truth of a toxic environment exists and seems to be stoked by many hiding behind the cries for "civility."
In a recent news article, it was revealed that every member of Wisconsin's state legislature received an email involving specific members of the Republican-led body that ended collective bargaining in the state. The email simply stated, "We're going to put a bullet in your head. We know where you and your family lives."
The disgusting Photoshopped image of President George Bush's face on the body of a child running on a track framed by the text, "Voting for Bush is like running in the Special Olympics: Even if you win, you're still retarded" was a desperate vision from the 2004 election cycle.
Now a new practice has begun. "SWATing" is the practice of placing false calls reporting an emergency, usually involving extreme reports of violence, seeking a vigorous response by law enforcement. The calls that have been made recently that are capturing the attention of those in politics involve targets who are conservative bloggers.
A New Jersey blogger who focused on the scandal involving former Congressman Anthony Weiner and his inappropriate personal photos, a California deputy district attorney who blogs under the name "Patterico," and CNN contributor and conservative Georgia blogger Erick Erickson have been on the receiving end of "SWATing" most recently, news reports show.
"Patterico" was awakened by law enforcement personnel with drawn weapons expecting to find his slain wife. He subsequently was handcuffed under a helicopter circling over his home.
Erickson previously had warned local law enforcement of hate mail and other threats and had given the authorities a "heads up" that he could be a similar target.
There are more examples, but the point has been made.
For those who have the inability to control their emotions, express their thoughts and beliefs in a rational manner and focus on the issues of the day, and choose violence, acts of wrongful behavior, and even threats, the notion of civil debate is elusive and a manufactured request.
The charge and challenge is now issued: Local and state political party organizations, police your own. Candidates, run on your record and your issues. Public, reject those who ignore the aforementioned and offer cries for civility in name only.