When free speech just isn't menacing enough

by digby

Gosh, I wonder why so many people are shying away from politics these days:

I'm fairly sure that my right to free speech is threatened when someone who disagrees with me shows up with a gun. This is just common sense. There is no reason these guys had to bring guns to the rally. They could have showed up with signs, as people have done forever. They could have shouted down the speakers, they could have engaged the protesters one on one. This is how we normally stage our political disagreements. But no, they show up at rallies with loaded guns and ostentatiously display them. There is no other reason to do it this way except that you want to intimidate those on the other side.

And it's effective:

A member of Moms Demand Action said that she felt unsettled by their presence and said that the organizers would have to think twice before holding another event, particularly one where children could be present.

I would certainly think twice about going to an event where people are passionate about an issue on both sides but where one side was armed. (And it doesn't matter which side I was on -- stray bullets hit innocent people every single day.) This is called self-preservation. In exactly the same way that I don't jump into a lion's cage, I don't go places where there are angry people with guns. Sure, it's possible -- even likely --- that nothing will happen. But it's a mistake to count on the lion to behave in a civilized way.

These gun proliferation supporters obviously know that a sign would do. But a sign doesn't get the message across is quite the same visceral way, does it?