A poster crosses the line on Free Republic forum

Published February 9, 2001 2:10PM (EST)

The world of political cyberchat is rough, but not without rules. And a poster on Free Republic.com broke those rules early Thursday morning and was banished after breaching the site's etiquette in one explosive post: He threatened the lives of Bill and Hillary Clinton.

The post, written by someone using the handle "patriot in texas," was the sixth post that morning in a thread titled "Ex-Prez Heckled Over Pardongate," which repeated a report that Clinton, at a speech he gave Monday, was heckled by a member of the audience about his controversial pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich. A contributor, "rightwingextremist1776," launched the forum with a filing at 4:50 a.m. PST saying, "On another note, Clinton hinted that he and his wife may be planning a return to the White House," and then jokingly added, "over my bed doddy."

The chat that followed rapidly over the next few minutes was avidly anti-Clinton but fairly innocuous until, 10 seconds after 5 a.m., patriot of texas submitted the following post:

If he keeps on he's going to make me come up there. There is only one solution to the Klintons, two 45 rounds and a nice little spot in Marcy Park.

Fort Marcy Park, in McLean, Va., is where former Clinton confidant and White House attorney Vince Foster was found dead in 1993 after an apparent suicide. The reaction was swift -- and angry -- from those posting responses.

At 5:08 a.m., AlGone2001 wrote, "You need to stop posting that kind of trash -- you make us all look like fools. Begone! I want you to [know] flat out that I reported your post as abuse." At 5:10 a.m., shivas2 wrote, "That is not even close to being funny -- watch what threats you throw around patriot," adding, "God can't wait to take care of this little creep and his wife." And at 5:12 a.m., poster Myers asked, "Have you lost your mind?" Seconds later, Cagey wrote, "Goodbye disruptor. Abuse reported."

At 5:13 a.m., Gracchus wrote: "You're either a sicko or a disruptor. I hope you have a nice chat with some Secret Service agents."

By 5:25 a.m., after repeated criticism, patriot in texas was back, meekly apologizing, "Sorry, only kidding," and a minute later posting, "It wasn't a threat, it was frustration!!" And then, responding to Myers, patriot in texas wrote: "Yes, I lost my mind and Klinton made me do it."

After continued bashing from fellow posters, patriot in texas wrote:

Thanks, I apologize to everyone, I did'nt realize it would be taken so litteral. I really am no threat and have no intention of being. Do you think the SS will really visit me? I din't think Klinton still had SS protection since he has no statis. I really hope I did no harm to the site, that would really hurt me.

After that, patriot in texas did not post again, but was still excoriated by posters throughout the day. "You may not realize it," wrote YepYep at 7:18 a.m., "but your previous unwise statement may very well appear in print to represent the whole site (printed by our so fair -- sarcasm -- news media). Then the few politicians who are proud of our citizen forum get hurt, and that in turn hurts really a lot of people."

When contacted by Salon, Jim Robinson, Free Republic's founder, commented:

The post was obviously inappropriate for our forum. It was deleted as soon as I became aware of it and the poster was banned. These kinds of posts appear here occasionally, as I am sure they do on all unmoderated Internet forums, but I would not say that it is a big problem. We've received over 5,000,000 posts since May of 1999 when we started our current counter, and maybe another 3,000,000 prior to that. We've had over 50,000 people register to post on Free Republic. Registration is automated and is open to the general public 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Anyone can register and begin posting immediately. During all of this, we've had to delete relatively few posts due to violations of our "No violence" policy.

Singing the blues

What are the Republicans doing? Trying to bankrupt the country? After all those ads tricking old people into voting for them by saying they wouldn't touch the Social Security trust fund! Democrats were scaring seniors, according to them. It's the same strategy they always use. For instance, Democrats suggest a raise in the minimum wage, and Republicans say, "OK, since you brought it up, let's do away with it altogether." Democrats suggest universal health care, Republicans suggest doing away with Medicare. I usually vote Democratic -- I never will vote Republican -- but our party leaders have got to wake up and stick to their guns. They are afraid of being obstructionists. Well the Republicans won the last election after their obstructionist tactics because they know what their supporters want and they will not compromise. I wish I could say the same for my party. What in the world is Dianne Feinstein thinking supporting such a large tax cut?

-- Beth Beatty, Illinois

Submit your own rant or favorite discussion to redvsblue@salon.com, or jump right into a Table Talk discussion about Red vs. Blue.

Anger management

"47 Pardons Skirted Review" [FreeRepublic.com]
The Los Angeles Times reports that "a third of those granted last-minute pardons or commutations by President Clinton last month skirted the normal Justice Department review process and instead appealed directly to the White House in the waning days of his presidency." Among those were Clinton's brother, Roger, and former business partner, Susan McDougal. "No kidding, huh?" writes one poster. "I gotta lie down, I feel faint ... "

Who else exercises at 11:30 in the morning? [Table Talk]
The president's activity during the shooting at the White House raises some questions. Says Stephanie G.: "Shrub has to work on his version of 'Eight Hour Abs.'" Writes Adam Korengold of Maryland: "I find it highly amusing that George Bush was 'exercising' when the shooting occurred this morning. Are we to be treated to other insights into his workaholic schedule? Did he call Ariel Sharon from a hot tub after his nice StairMaster session?"

Over at Lucianne.com, posters are tired of hearing about the gun-happy accountant and his anti-IRS rant, and want to move on. "It was otherwise a slow-news day," says one. "How else to explain the media FRENZY over one mentally disturbed man who tried to commit suicide in Washington."

Clinton pardon hearings begin Thursday [FreeRepublic.com]
And Freepers are busily sharpening their knives.

By Salon Staff

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