April 16th, 2010
07:45 AM ET
12 years ago

Experts: Angry rhetoric protected, but can be disturbing

ALT TEXT Experts say that as anger heightens, fringe messages are crossing into the mainstream. (PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images)

(CNN) - Letting disgruntled citizens vent is important to national security, experts say, but some messages emanating from angry Americans in recent weeks have pressed the boundaries of free speech.

Politicians have reported slurs as well as threatening letters and phone calls. Congressmen have reported vandalism to their offices. One said he was spit on. Another said his brother's gas line was cut after a Tea Party member posted his address online.

Tea Party leaders denounce the threats and deny involvement, pointing to fringe elements - not Tea Party members, per se, but groups with degrees of overlapping ideologies.

But the angry rhetoric is not isolated to fringe groups. Both mainstream liberal and conservative camps have joined the chorus, and while some of the language sounds threatening, most of it is protected.

Full story

Filed under: Tea Party movement
soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. LacrosseMom(the real one)

    I'd have to say it seems as though the vast majority of hate speech and violent actions are far-left groups just trying to make good, honest hard working blue collar Americans look bad. Remember, it's ok to dissent, as long as you dissent to the left. If you dissent to the right, god help you, as you are a racist, redneck, uneducated, violent, etc.

    April 16, 2010 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  2. Moderate

    That's what they made the polls for. I have noticed some of the really bad racial posters have disappeared. I guess they Got the message that hate isn't necessary. I just wonder if there is time left to put the genie back in the bottle!

    April 16, 2010 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  3. Barbara Independent in NY

    What I find really disturbing is how the founders of this movement were able to bring so many followers on board with blatant lies. It's really disturbing that none of these people will even look at facts because they'd rather believe lies. Why is that? I know some of the answers to my own question and those answers are also disturbing.

    April 16, 2010 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  4. johnnyhouse

    Maybe we can dismiss Pelosi and the rest of that mob who are breaking the country with their freebees. If you have a bird feeder you can learn a valuable lesson on socialism and its faults. Put out a pan full of food and every bird in the country will show up and they will stay until they are too fat to fly.

    April 16, 2010 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  5. johnnyhouse

    Kent State will reincarnate during this presidency.American troops will be put on American citizens before this bunch leaves office.

    April 16, 2010 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  6. joe dokes

    The Tea Party exists for angry white people to vent their anger about the economy and the fact that a black guy is president. Most of them know they'll be called on the carpet if they use the N-word so they cloak themselves in fantasies... like Obama is a socialist or foreign-born (both ridiculous ideas but they have absolutely convinced themselves both ideas are true). For these people, time has stopped. They are becoming more fanatical as each day passes. Some of them will eventually become violent... and then blame it all on liberals. Sad but true.

    April 16, 2010 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  7. Linda

    That sign is not a "fringe" message by any means. I'm a soccer mom in a red state and like many people I know, agree with many of the sentiments of the Tea party. Not all, many.

    Additionally, I wonder who is the arbitor of when a sign "presses the boundaries of free speech". Who are these "experts" and who made them God?

    April 16, 2010 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  8. John

    That sign doesn't look threatening or angry at all. Looks like a quite valid expression of democracy that anyone in any group could be carrying.

    April 16, 2010 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  9. Duck Fallas

    Q. Why would an anti-tax organization protest a President who lowered their taxes?

    A. He's black.

    April 16, 2010 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  10. John

    Dear Congressmen,

    Just remember that you work for us...... and if you respect our wishes... everything will be just fine.....

    -The American Public

    April 16, 2010 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  11. mike

    just think if every business got the media attention like the tea party
    does there would be no recession they are making these idiots out
    to being smart and well off if that is true then they are not out for the
    best interest of the average person because most american are not
    well off are they

    April 16, 2010 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  12. FactCheck

    Who really cares about the 10% of the Republican Party that represent the most bigoted fraction? There's this 90% of the rest of us who will determine the elections in 2010 and 2012.

    April 16, 2010 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  13. Mike

    Tea Party members are nothing more than Neocons with a new name. They "claim" their ranks consist of independants, democrats and libertarians but that is so false. What do these peopel care about the "Rhino's" (Republicans who are not conservative enough) that the Tea PArties have targeted? This movement is nothing more than Wolves in sheeps clothing. They are outraged at this administrations spending but were quiet as a mounse when Bush was runninf up our debt. They are frauds from the word go and I look forward to their downfall.

    April 16, 2010 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  14. Catherine Wolff

    Where was all the "tea party" anger when the government was wiretapping everyone without a warrant? When George W Bush gave massive tax cuts to the rich? When we were dropping billions per month in Iraq? When George W Bush took a surplus and turned it into a massive deficit? When GWB grew the federal government by 70%? Please. Do these people have amnesia?

    April 16, 2010 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  15. Dave

    There has been absolutely NO PROOF of tea Party memebers doing anything of the sort.
    There is PROOF of Democrat groups "planting" people in Tea Party protests to use racial slurs and to take things to far to discredit the group.

    Anyway, has there been reports about left wing groups and the violence and disruption surounding them? You know: PETA, Code Pink, ALF, ELF, etc... It is a huge list of very intolerant people who are all on the far left.

    Both sides have fringe groups, but many, many more come from the left.

    April 16, 2010 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  16. Jerry

    So it is cnn's position that we should become a socialist nation and you are promoting it, not sure this is what Ted Turner had in mind.

    April 16, 2010 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  17. Librarian

    These people frighten me. Racist slurs, threat of violence should not be tolerated from these domestic terrorists.

    April 16, 2010 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  18. Pragmatic

    During one tea-party rally, a “colonel” in the Ohio Valley Freedom Fighters, worried about “liberal infiltrators”, led about two dozen camouflaged followers on patrol – saying “I’m a little apprehensive because of the left-wing nut jobs out there”

    That's scary. If the tea-party people don't police their own rallies, the rest of us are asking "what's next?"

    April 16, 2010 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  19. Seattle Sue

    I watched part of the Tea Party rally and notice one person carrying a sign that read GOD Hates Taxes. I just don't remember that being in the Bible. Apparently Tea Party folks are like Republicans, bring the three G's into politics. God-Guns-Gays. Same old tactics.

    April 16, 2010 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  20. TCM

    With his recent pandering to anti-American, muslim nations, to gays about hospital visits (him supposedly a Christian) and the tax implications he's placing on everyone...no wonder there are disgruntled citizens..."these people," as this ghetto thug calls us.....Obama's setting a path for becoming the most distrusted and disliked person in US history.

    April 16, 2010 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  21. Emile Zola

    Tea partiers are not for fiscal responsibility as they claim. If they were, they would have formed during Bush's fiscal meltdown. All the tea partiers stand for is racism and since racism, discrimination is illegal, they disguise that for fiscal responsibility. I've also noticed that the large majority of tea partiers are senior citizens and since they are, were agaisnt Medicare or health care for all, that means they are their worst enemy. I don't give too much credit to a bunch of lunatics with hate and racism as beacons. If people want a real revolution in their hands, then try to take away their Medicare and the revolution against monarchy will be a walk in the park compare to taking away Medicare from the Alhziemer's generation.

    April 16, 2010 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  22. Tired Ant

    We'll show your president the same respect you showed ours.

    April 16, 2010 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  23. Ben in Texas

    The guy with the sign must have missed 2008. That's when We the People DID voted them out. Those folks who gave us unregulated Wall Street banks, the Iraq War, torture, Abu Graib, a near-depression, bailouts, deficits, and illegal spying have been voted out in favor of a democratically elected federal government with Democrats in charge.

    We the People have spoken. Where was the geezer with the sign then?

    April 16, 2010 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  24. haren

    Tea Party does not make any difference in this coming November election, because they are all angry republicans, only in poll they identify them selves as independent but they are all republican.
    Which proves that Democrat handily won in Florida election.
    Democrats should not worried about noisy minority people.

    April 16, 2010 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  25. Our nation is divided and on the brink

    A previous article was titled "Dems dismiss Tea Party Activists"; perhaps after the next election we will read "Tea Party Activists Dismiss Dems"

    April 16, 2010 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
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