Pelosi Fears Nation Could Take Violent Turn
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) turned unusually emotional Thursday as she worried aloud about the threat of violence stirred by the heated political debate seizing the country — an atmosphere that she likened to the bloody gay rights movement in late 1970s San Francisco.“I think we all have to take responsibility for our actions and our words,— Pelosi told reporters at her weekly press conference, pointing to the need to “carefully balance— freedom and safety in seeking to preserve free speech.“I have concerns about some of the language that is being used because I saw this myself in the late 70s in San Francisco,— she continued, her voice catching. “This kind of rhetoric was very frightening, and it created a climate in which violence took place.— Pelosi’s remarks come on the heels of Rep. Joe Wilson’s (R-S.C.) outburst of “You lie!— at President Barack Obama during last week’s joint address to Congress and after an August recess that played host to angry and sometimes physical town hall meetings. The string of activity has also raised fresh questions about race’s role, particularly as protestors target Obama, the nation’s first black president.Harvey Milk, one of the first openly gay men elected to public office in America, was serving on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1978 when he was gunned down, along with then-Mayor George Moscone, by Dan White, another city supervisor. Pelosi attended his funeral and was on hand a year later to see the city erupt in violent protest when White was convicted on two counts of voluntary manslaughter.“I wish that we would all curb our enthusiasm,— Pelosi, who has represented San Francisco for 12 terms, said Thursday, “understanding that some of the ears that it is falling on are not as balanced as the person making the statements may assume. … But again, our country is great because people can say what they think and what they believe, but I also think that people have to take responsibility for any incitement that they may cause.—Asked about Pelosi’s comments, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he was not worried about violence breaking out, noting that he had appeared at a “tea party— protest in Ohio attended by thousands.“I saw no signs or any indications of any kind of violence,— Boehner said.But average Americans are getting involved, he said.“I do believe Americans are in the middle of a modern-day political rebellion,— he said. “I believe it ought to be civilized, but Americans are speaking up and they ought to speak up.—Steven T. Dennis contributed to this story.