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Public rhetoric reaching its full boil
Gene Collier

As we are all preoccupied with our personal burdens of the moment — angst, dread, worry, caducity, fatalism, confusion, dizziness upon standing, etc. — we often don’t have the time or energy to get the whole story when it comes to media consumption.

That’s why I am here re-channeling the apology from Amelia King, the death threat-slinging dental hygienist from Virginia who warned the Page County school board last week that if her children were required to wear masks, she would “bring every single gun loaded and ready,” to the next meeting.

“I’ll see y’all Monday,” she said.

Well Amelia is sorry.

“I, in no way, meant to imply all guns loaded as in actual firearms, but rather all resources I can muster to make sure that my children get to attend school without masks,” she explained through an email to a board member. “My sincere apologies for my poor choice in words.”

Let’s take that at face value then. OK, Amelia, I knew you didn’t mean that school board members trying to make difficult decisions directly affecting the health and safety of all children might get slaughtered in a barrage of gunfire if that decision didn’t go your way.

But even more common in the past few days are threats to public officials by people who are not sorry at all, no sir.

There is no apology so far from Chad Stark of Leander, Texas, arrested there Friday for explicitly threatening election officials in Georgia.

“Georgia Patriots it’s time to kill (Official A) the Chinese agent — $10,000,” is just one of the brainstorms Chad posted on Craigslist (thanks Craigslist!) on Jan. 5 of last year, as part of a plan to take Georgia back from “lawless treasonous traitors,” (the worst kind).

Nor is there a Stark apology for writing that it’s time to “put a bullet in the treasonous Chinese (Official A), then we work our way down to (Official B) and the local and federal corrupt judges.”

There’s no indication from Mr. Stark that he was speaking metaphorically or figuratively or hyper-exuberantly or in any way other than what should result in the violent death of Georgia election officials trying to do their jobs, the hard work of — what was it called? — democracy.

Mr. Stark’s arrest was the first for the Justice Department’s Elections Threats Task Force, which figures to become the fastest growing entity in the entire bureaucracy before long.

But you’re still far more likely to get a standard “misquoted,” “quoted out of context” or “blown out of proportion” plea from the likes of Stark than you are from fading Republican rage agent Newt Gingrich, whose imperviousness to shame has withstood decades of hot public scrutiny.

Newt this week wandered onto Maria Bartiromo’s Fox News platform, where no lie should fear scrutiny, to snarl at the Jan. 6 Committee in worn out didactic rhythms that stopped just short of the week’s bullet talk.

“I think when you have a Republican Congress, this is all going to come crashing down,” said the one-time House Speaker. “And the wolves are going to find out that they’re now sheep and they’re the ones who are in fact, I think, fac(ing) a real risk of jail for the kinds of laws they’re breaking.”

Such as . . . oh, he wasn’t asked. But he was able to say the Jan. 6 Committee was “literally just running over the law, pursuing innocent people,” adding that “it’s basically a lynch mob.”

We could get into the advisability of Gingrich defending the rights and liberties of people who would attack the U.S. Capitol and kill people including police officers in an attempt to overturn an election, or we could point out that it was an actual lynch mob that erected a gallows intended for then-Vice President Mike Pence on Jan. 6, but really, most everyone with a brain stopped listening to this guy during the 2012 presidential primary season when he said, “I expect to win the (GOP) nomination.”

Hint: He didn’t.

Of course, for obvious reasons, Donald Trump didn’t stop listening to him. In fact, by most accounts, Gingrich was among the final three candidates Trump considered as his running mate in 2016, along with Pence and Chris Christie. If it had been Newt Gingrich handling Pence’s ceremonial vote counting duties Jan. 6, we might be in an even more frightening place already.

It’s instructive, if not reassuring, that when Gingrich was running for president only 10 years ago, establishment Republicans considered him too “erratic” for the office. Four years later, they nominated Trump, who on the erraticism ladder makes Gingrich look like the late Bishop Desmond Tutu.

Regarding Gingrich’s freshest lunacy, Liz Cheney, one of two Republicans on the Jan. 6 Committee, provided a badly needed You Are Here locator:

“A former speaker of the House is threatening jail time for members of Congress who are investigating the violent attack on our Capitol and our constitution. This is what it looks like when the rule of law unravels.”

Yep. And you get people threatening to kill each other in public forums. Some don’t even apologize.

Gene Collier, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Visit at