Glenn Beck's entire show yesterday was about how people are "afraid" to sign the harmless little "pledge against violence" he introduced earlier this week. I can't imagine why anyone would reject or ignore a weird document from an irresponsible Bircher clown, can you?
You can watch Beck's show here and here (until Fox removes the clips from YouTube, anyway) and if you only know Beck through liberal blog posts or short Media Matters clips, I encourage you to try an entire Beck show, to get a sense of how the entire thing works as theater.
Beck introduced the pledge knowing full well no liberal or Democrat would have anything to do with it. It was more or less designed to be the subject of a show about how no one would sign it. The pledge is, of course, not a simple promise to reject violence. It is a series of dog whistles to the people who watch his show and take it seriously. It is a pledge to reject the vast progressive conspiracy that is plotting even now to fundamentally change America. It is also a pledge that made an elderly college professor into a dangerous threat to the nation.
Beck used his show to again make Frances Fox Piven the apparent left-wing equivalent of an armed right-wing militia. It is a lovely sign that literally nothing could ever cause Beck to diverge, even for a second, from his standard game of picking almost randomly selected liberal enemies and inducting them into his fevered fantasy of progressive conspiracy.
Speaking of violence, and Frances Fox Piven, it is an established fact that at least one nut has gone off with the intention of shooting a bunch of people whom Glenn Beck has accused of being instrumental in the liberal conspiracy to destroy the nation from within. There should no longer be any wishy-washy question marks on headlines like, "Can Glenn Beck's rhetoric inspire violence?" Because it already did.
Frances Fox Piven's life is probably not in danger, but there are lots of people who take Beck's nonsense quite seriously. (And, like Beck himself, they're probably more likely to be armed than your average MSNBC viewer.) Beck is completely irresponsible and shameless, and his doddering old boss seems to be losing it, but it's complete bullshit to go around pretending that "both sides do it" or that this has absolutely no effect on anyone.
Even when it doesn't lead to violence, it leads to thousands of people believing incredible lies, and going around with a truly warped sense of the world, which is decidedly unhealthy for a representative democracy.