When activists break the law protesting Republican policies, it is because lefties care so much. But when conservatives act likewise, it's because they are loudmouths and louts.
So TV tells me. During an interview last week with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., NBC's Ann Curry observed that former GOP running mate Sarah Palin, who was about to stump for McCain over the weekend, had told supporters, "Don't retreat, instead -- reload" and posted on her Facebook page "a map highlighting weak Democratic districts that conservatives should target with a crosshair symbol.
"Considering these threats, these concerns that we've been hearing about, regarding violence, do you think, do you now recommend that your party use less incendiary language and will you say that to her tomorrow?"
What could McCain do but laugh? The political lexicon long has used martial terms like "target" and "battleground." Even if that is true -- somehow she seemed unsure -- Curry continued, "These are very dangerous times. Is this the language that we should be hearing today?"
The short answer: Yes. CNN's Howard Kurtz got it right when he noted on "Reliable Sources" Sunday, "The conservative argument is that the media didn't seem quite so concerned with civility when protesters were calling George W. Bush a war criminal and a Nazi, and (using) that kind of overheated rhetoric as well."
Remember when an Iraqi threw his shoes at Bush -- and it was Bush's fault? Kurtz's three media guests disagreed. You see, they said, the right crossed the line. Poor babies; they can't even see that their line is the right.
Because Democrats see this story as a Victim Opportunity, there is more rage at vocal ObamaCare opponents than, say, students who have vandalized UC Berkeley property, including the chancellor's home, or toward violent anti-Bush protests.
Being a Victim is great for business, too. As Pelosi said Monday, the GOP "really helps me with my fundraising."
As the recipient of copious slurs and the occasional threat, I have more cause than most to resent the angry froth that bubbles forth when ideologues believe the rules of civility do not apply to them.
While most of the vacuous insults hurled my way come from the left, I get them from the right, too. Incivility is not confined to one party. Both sides know how to shout.
On Saturday, authorities arrested a Philadelphia man for threatening House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va. Apparently, Norman Leboon videotaped his threat to kill Cantor and his "cupcake evil wife" and children, and was so impressed with himself that he posted his threat on the Internet. A genius, that man. As Politico reported, Leboon also referred to the fact that Cantor is Jewish.
Does Leboon's behavior reflect on all liberals? Should the conservative media connect Leboon's threats to left-wing anti-Semitism? Will Curry ask Democrats to tone down their rhetoric lest they inflame more violence? Of course not.
Yet somehow, threats made against Democrats are supposed to reflect on the right. Folks like Curry have a story line, and they'll make the facts fit it. When the facts don't fit, there is no story.