“Advocating violence is terrible,” Althouse advises, then goes on to defend, as have others, the use of metaphor in political discourse.

…but it is also terrible to try to delegitimize vibrant criticism of the government, to have a biased view of where the least valuable speech is coming from, and to connect speech to violence when there is no connection.

Of course, the real accusation is that there is a connection — that “crosshairs” and “bill killing” are not metaphor, but literal proposals, sometimes thinly disguised. That’s absurd.

Or is it?

If there is in reality a recent increment in the use of “violent imagery” by the Right — an assertion not yet, and not easily, proven — whence might it have come? People who talk about “second amendment solutions” are clearly disturbed by something, and are reacting to it.

“There oughta be a law!” is the ultimate in violent threats. The policeman’s gun is not a fashion accessory. It is a direct and pointed threat that violent recourse can and will be taken against persons whose behavior is discountenanced by the law. Similarly, the fact that tax collectors are sometimes unarmed does not make taxes less forceful exactions; it simply means that the taxed are uncomfortably aware of the preponderance of force available to the taxman should his edicts be ignored, and prudently refrain from challenges. Every law, every tax, carries with it the unspoken but definite threat that the overwhelming force of the State will be brought to bear against those who fail to comply. That’s what “enforcement” means.

People who propose laws often prefer not to acknowledge the element of force. There is, they like to pretend, some magical influence that makes the behavior they consider undesirable simply go away upon Act of the Legislature, or that will cause the desired behavior(s) to become the norm upon the signature of the Executive. They are merely Doing Good for the Benefit of All (especially The Children!), and their hands are not besmirched by the least trace of gun-0il.

Bullshit. Hiring people to do violence is not less violent than performing violent acts in propria persona. In fact, it adds another layer to the crime — that of pretending that the intent can be entirely pushed off onto the agent. It is not pacifism. It is pusillanimity, perversity, and the sort of self-righteous fastidiousness that induces the soi-disant “elite” to consider it disgusting and demeaning to have to clean up their own dog’s poop. The agents’ self-defense all too often coincides with the interests of their employers, resulting in mass graves being filled with no fault assignable — the agents were “just following legal orders”, and their employers were “just acting out of necessity”. No foul may be declared, despite evident harm. Everyone involved is wreathed in Pure Virtue (except, of course, the dead, who are exemplars of Pure Evil), and the carrion-stink that might belie that claim is conveniently bulldozed under.

Anyone who proposes a law proposes sending people to enforce it by violence, and there are an unGodly number of laws in existence and proposed which threaten the life, liberty, and property of any number of people. At the moment, such proposals come disproportionately from the leftoids, ranging from Democratic “moderates” to the few but vocal genuine members of the Left. It is they from whom the threats of violence come, and no amount of self-righteous self-justification can any longer conceal it, whether butter will melt in their mouths or no. When violence is proposed — demanded! in the name of Virtue! — it should not be surprising that the response is violent, “imagery” or otherwise.