The US Secret Service has confirmed it is investigating a poll posted on social networking site Facebook, asking people if they think President Barack Obama “should be killed”. Facebook removed the poll as soon as it became aware of it, and says the poll came via a third-party application unconnected to the social networking site itself.
Without offering specifics, The Secret Service, responsible for the safety of the US president, said “the appropriate investigative steps,” would be taken. Since becoming president, Barack Obama has become the target of numerous campaigns by right-wing commentators, radio talk show hosts and so-called “grassroots” movements – some alleging Obama is really a Kenyan citizen and others that he has a secret socialist, communist, anti-religious or fascist agenda. For many of these, Obama’s proposed health care reforms have coalesced opposition that is making use of social networking communications to recycle charges and allegations about Obama’s policies and personal life.
A frequent goad to these efforts has been a drumbeat of criticism from right wing, conservative talk show hosts on radio and television such as Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and Glen Beck. Beck in particular has struck a responsive chord with conservative listeners via a syndicated network of talk radio stations across the country. Much of the content of these shows draws upon concerns about Obama administration initiatives in health care that came to the foreground in numerous town hall-style meetings hosted by congressmen across the country during the recent congressional summer recess. These meetings were often taken over by highly mobilised conservative critics — acting independently but in concert. In a few cases, protesters even arrived armed. Others have carried politically and racially suggestive posters emblazoned with swastikas or the like. In a most recent case, protesters have carried a poster melding Obama’s face with a cartoonish version of the comic and film villian, ‘The Joker’ or arranged to have such a picture placed on a highly visible billboard.
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