This is a fascinating story, reported in the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman. The gist of it is that a young man who was obsessed with Sarah Palin and many other public figures made a serious threat against her. Her response was, in my view, completely appropriate and understandable, as the Frontiersman's editorial recently explained:
On Tuesday morning, the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman received a tip that two local women filed for and were granted 20-day protective orders against a Pennsylvania man they said had been threatening them for a year. One of those women was Sarah Palin. The other was her friend, Kristan Cole. Palin testified the 18-year-old man, Shawn Christy, threatened to track her down at her book signings in the Lower 48, told Palin “that she better watch her back,” said he was buying a one-way ticket to Alaska and sent a gun-purchase receipt.
Christy, an obviously disturbed young man, has a record of such threats:
The U.S. Capitol Police launched an investigation because Christy made more than 20 threats against President Barack Obama, more than 40 threats against 2008 Republican presidential candidate John McCain and another 40 against Palin. The Secret Service did its own investigation. Agents have visited Christy’s home and spent hours talking to him on more than one occasion. They did not arrest him. They did not charge him. Neither did the FBI in Anchorage and Allentown, Pa., who also investigated.
There has been no criminal charge filed against him, after all these investigations. Christy, a home-schooled rural evangelical started out as a passionate Palinite: "He donated to her political action committee. He spent his savings buying a $200 ticket to an Aug. 27 Pennsylvania event where she spoke." Again, I can completely understand why Palin sought a civil restraining order, and sympathize with her. But it is also clear she understands he is a nutter (not that nutters cannot be dangerous):
Palin testified that Christy is delusional in his statements that he has had direct communication or contact with her or her daughter. “Petitioner also testified that respondent has falsly claimed to have had a sexual relationship with petitioner,” the filing stated. “Mr. Van Flein provided evidence that the secret service investigated respondent alleging that he had threatened or said he wanted to sexually assault Gov. Palin. Mr. Van Flein testified that respondent has signed letters to the petitioner your magic enemy.’”
But what's remarkable is not Palin's legitimate concern but the reaction to the Frontiersman's story - remarkable enough that the newspaper itself was shocked:
The story went up on the newspaper’s website. Minutes later, dozens of Sarah Palin-related sites had linked to the story. On Monday, our website had about 4,300 hits. After the story broke Tuesday, that number climbed to 8,700. Wednesday hits spiked to 75,000 and by Thursday afternoon we’d had more than 200,000 hits, mostly from new visitors.
Even after we broke the story that Christy is not in Alaska and has never been to Alaska, threats against him continued on our website and Facebook page. Many comments were not approved because they suggested hunting Christy and killing him. Folks asked us to post a picture of the young man so “decent” people could hunt him down and kill him. And that is exactly why we won’t publish a photo that could identify him.We were shocked at the number of people from across the U.S. calling for his death and offering to pull the trigger on a .45 loaded with “liberal lead.”
This 18-year-old admits he was in the wrong and he absolutely was. But he is now under siege and in fear of his life:
Based on his public trial and suggested execution, his hometown police department has brought in patrols from neighboring towns to help protect his family.
Palin bears no direct responsibility for this, in my view, and has done nothing wrong. But this story does reveal some of the virulence and anger and violence that lies beneath what has become a political cult. And her public statements that someone like Joe McGinnis may be a sexual threat to her children or is a "freak" and her constant invocation of victimhood are not helpful in this kind of incendiary context.
This woman commands forces out there that are truly terrifying and violent. If you want to know why so much about her is still unknown, you do not understand the fear her followers and acolytes command in her native Alaska. That fear is real; and it is not without reason.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.