Threatening someone's family is behavior worthy of the lower forms of mob bosses, drug lords, and fanatical terrorists. Is the president of Grass Roots North Carolina seeking to place himself in such company?
Paul Valone, president of the extremist pro-gun rights group Grass Roots North Carolina, is well known for bullying behavior and intemperate rhetoric. Ask any local elected official--or police chief, for that matter--in North Carolina who's publicly supported reasonable restrictions on concealed carry recently. You'll probably hear a similar account of hostile emails/letters/calls threatening litigation and dire electoral consequences. Valone, like the NRA, is also known for circulating the names and contact information of elected officials who have supported any form of regulation on gun carry or ownership, calling for mass contacts to those officials. (Responding contacts will then follow, from gun "enthusiasts" around the country.)
But that's just politics. Hostile, sometimes nasty, and not always very effective politics, true, but not necessarily anything morally out of line.
Valone and GRNC's latest move is something quite different. Raleigh TV station WRAL carried a story recently on trends in concealed-weapons permits in North Carolina. As part of its story, WRAL put up on its website an interactive database which lets users determine whether there are concealed-carry permit holders living on their street or others nearby. It's based on public information and does not give names or addresses.
Valone and GRNC, however, chose to view it with alarm as an effort to frighten gun owners with public exposure. (The GRNC members seem to spend a great deal of their waking lives in a state of acute fear.) They attempted to pressure WRAL to take down its link to the database.
When that failed, they got ugly. GRNC posted on its own website a detailed description of the background of the WRAL reporter who prepared the concealed-carry story, including his name, his almost complete home address, his phone number, and--here's the top outrageous kicker--a description of his wife and two small children, including links to their photographs. The post then proceeded to urge GRNC's members/supporters to contact the reporter to call for the WRAL story link to come down. Of course, the post piously admonished that the contacts should be non-threatening and polite. Sarcasm practically dripped from the page.
I haven't posted on BlueNC for a while. Sorry, been preoccupied by other business. But this egregious new low by an extremist political group seems to me to call for a special public shaming.
It ought to still be considered beyond the pale to hold up someone's kids to public view--and heightened risk, no matter how piously that is denied as the intent--as part of a political debate. People responsible for such despicable behavior ought to be publicly and broadly called out for it, so that other amoral politicians and activists don't get the message that the behavior is considered fair game, and be encouraged to try it themselves.
Dues-paying members of Grass Roots North Carolina ought to be called upon to make a choice themselves. Either drop your membership in that organization, or throw out your current "leadership" and apologize for his actions. Or be considered to be in approval of his shameful behavior.
Here's a link to the Raleigh News & Observer article describing the situation: http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/07/25/2218895/gun-rights-group-pressures-tv.html
Shame, Paul Valone. Shame, "Grass Roots North Carolina". Shame.