"These are desperate times, Mrs. Lovett, and desperate measures must be taken." - Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street, on deciding to become a murderous cannibal.
Back in 1998 while performing at Atlanta's Punchline, two weeks after the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky story broke, I made some jokes along the lines of what a waste of time the whole thing was, and how the Rush Limbaughs of the world were trying to turn the affair into a war crime. They weren't great jokes, just stuff off the top of my head. A man in a John Deere baseball cap accosted me after the show, told me I was a "fucking traitor" and "a very dangerous man," and then grabbed my arm and suggested that we step out into the parking lot to "settle" it.
At another performance several months after 9/11, I made one very tame George W. Bush joke before a largely conservative Las Vegas audience, about how "Bush wants a war so bad he can't stand it--'Daddy, had a war, I want my own war!'" Afterwards, an audience member told me that I was a "Commie, liberal, pinko fag who deserved to die." I thought, "Gee, I don't deserve to die."
On many other occasions plenty of right-wing audience members have made their displeasure known to me in ways that made me wish I had a bodyguard. When liberals get offended by a joke, they look down their noses at me, tell me I'm stupid, and offer to have a discussion where they can prove me wrong. Conservatives aren't interested in discussion. They want to take me out in the parking lot.
I was reminded of this watching some of the hecklers at McCain/Palin events, shouting, "traitor," "terrorist," "faggot," "Bomb Obama" and "kill him." A Florida 7th grade teacher wrote out "CHANGE" on the blackboard as an acronym for "Come Help A Nigger Get Elected," apparently to comply with Bush's "No Child Left Tolerant" program. A woman at McCain's town hall meeting said "He's a, he's a, a, uh, Arab," which was even too much for McCain, who was forced to respond, through clenched teeth and probably with a very tightened rectum, that Obama is a "Decent human being."
I've heard plenty of liberals make nasty comments about Bush, but most of those were justified given his disastrous record and the fact that he's such a total doofus. The attacks on Obama are personal, racist, and fear based. Conservatives live a constant state of fear--of minorities, gays, foreigners, the government, Barbra Streisand, you name it. As Yoda says in The Empire Strikes Back, "Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to the Dark Side." Conservatives who have right-wing radio and FOX News on an IV drip went to the Dark Side so long ago they have beachfront property.
The very nature of conservatism is the preservation of the status quo. Whenever that is challenged, they react with anger, fear, invective and violence. Some of my audience members have done it, and now some of McCain's supporters--most of whom didn't even vote for him in the primary--are doing it.
All I have to say is, beware of this mob of idiots. They don't care if their arguments have any basis in reality--raw emotions seldom do--they just want to shout you down, and, if necessary, beat you up. The last 8 years have been ruled by thugs. If McCain is elected, expect these thugs in the audience to be more empowered than ever to take you out in the parking lot.