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Peter Dreier

Peter Dreier

Posted: January 23, 2011 01:20 AM

If anyone thinks that the vitriol that Glenn Beck spews on his radio and TV shows can't sometimes stir people to aggressive and hateful action, they should take a look at the postings on his website, The Blaze, about Frances Fox Piven.

For two years Beck has targeted the political science professor as a Marxist Machiavelli whose writings constitute a manifesto for a radical revolution.

But in recent months Beck has escalated his hate campaign against Piven, a professor at the City University of New York, former vice president of the American Political Science Association, and former president of the American Sociological Association. He labeled Piven one of the "nine most dangerous people in the world," and "an enemy of the Constitution."

Not surprisingly, this has led to a dramatic rise in ugly threats to the 78-year-old Piven.

Some of Beck's followers have emailed Piven directly. One of the anonymous emailers simply wrote "DIE YOU CUNT" in the subject line. Another wished that she would get cancer.

Since September, The Blaze has published eight articles about Piven with headlines like "Frances Fox Piven Rings in the New Year by Calling for Violent Revolution" and "Piven: Violence is Okay If It's Part of Your Strategy."

In the wake of the Tucson massacre, Beck exhorted his audience to take a pledge to denounce "violent threats and calls for the destruction of our system -- regardless of their underlying ideology -- whether they come from the Hutaree Militia or Frances Fox Piven."

The Blaze also posted an audio recording of remarks Piven made at a meeting of faculty retirees in early December. She had been invited to comment on the 2010 election. In the course of the discussion, people asked about the sociological causes of the Tea Party movement. Piven discussed what is known about the demographic characteristics of Tea Partiers. She added that she suspected that older Tea Party sympathizers were also reacting against changes in family and sexual norms triggered by the women's and gay rights movement. Piven suspects that a conservative colleague used a cell phone to record the comments featured on The Blaze article titled, "Frances Fox Piven: The Tea Party is All About Sex."

These Blaze articles, in turn, have triggered hundreds of incendiary reader comments, some of which have included death threats (and some of which have since been removed). Here's just a sample:

• "Maybe they should burst through the front door of this arrogant elitist and slit the hateful cow's throat"

• "We should blow up Piven's office and home"

• "I am all for violence and change Frances: Where do your loved ones live?"

• "Another Idiot here who needs to be Euthanized!"

• "Dear Frannie, Trotsky got his in Mexico with a well applied icepick."

• "I would not be upset at all if she got hit by a car sliding in the snow during a winter storm.... yeah, i wouldn't be upset at all, i don't even consider her human."

• "Hey Frances and your "unruly mobs"! I'd like you to meet bullets! Our friendly neighborhood riot police can help you make their acquaintance!"

• "Hey Frances. Please get sick and die quickly!"

• "That old woman is nothing more than bile coming from a rabid animal. put it out of its misery."

• " The time for talk is over ! i stand with free people and my Lord Jesus, he has the ability to forgive. I do not. It will be ugly".

• "Here's hoping that this Piven hag is the first one killed in her "Grand Socialist Revolution"!"

• "Bring it B*TCH, Bring it....You are all just future moving targets."

• "Somebody tell Frances I have 5000 roundas ready and I'll give My life to take Our freedom back. Taking Her life and any who would enslave My children and grandchildren and call for violence should meet their demise as They wish. George Washington didn't use His freedom of speech to defeat the British, He shot them."

• "Big Lots is having a rope sale I hear, you buy the rope I will hang the wench."

• Hey Frances and your "unruly mobs"! I'd like you to meet bullets!

• "I say they should vent their frustration by stringing up the old hippy revolutionaries like Piven."

• "Isn't it time we schedule Ms. Piven's end-of-life counseling session?"

• "OK! If it is violence she wants I think we should start with Ms. Piven."

• "I have at least 400 rounds ready for those freaking communist's when ever they are ready"

Some of these bullies have posted links to documents that reveal Piven's home address and phone numbers.

On Thursday (January 20), the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), a public interest law firm, issued a written appeal to Beck's boss -- Fox News chairman Roger Ailes -- to put a stop to the increasing threats against Piven incited by Beck tirades. The letter, written by CCR Legal Director Bill Quigley and Executive Director Vince Warren, asked Ailes to distinguish between First Amendment rights, of which they are "vigorous defenders" and an "intentional repetition of provocative, incendiary, emotional misinformation and falsehoods [that place that Piven] in actual physical danger of a violent response."

The letter states that the "threats must be taken seriously by Fox News," and that "Professor Piven's life could well be at stake." It further asks that Ailes "order an immediate investigation into this, and insist on a speedy and fair resolution which will stop the Fox and Beck generated threats on Professor Piven."

Joel Cheatwood, Fox News vice president, told the New York Times that the company would not order Beck to stop criticizing Piven. He had no knowledge of any threats against Piven, he said.

After news outlets reported CCR's letter to Ailes, The Blaze removed some of the incendiary comments from its website. But the following day (Saturday, Jan 22), Beck's website continued its attack on Piven. It published an article entitled, "Globalization Destruction: Piven Gleefully 'Hopes' and Explains How Countries Like China Can Shut Down USA and Bring Revolutionary Transformation."

This article provoked another wave of angry comments, including this one from an anonymous writer using the name "MILIG":

• "The cemeteries are half empty and this witch is still running around living?"

And this post from "Cylone:"

• "I'll pay up for the bullet....I"m $1.07 bid....I'll just have to let Glenn shoot her though.... he's the best shot out there... :-)"