Skip to content

What me worry?

Dear Readers,

I had hoped to send this letter out from Perfidy Press, but am experiencing technical difficulties with the software. In any event, this is the last one you will receive via As I wrote last month, is about to discontinue Tiny Letter in favor of hosting email campaigns that they can make money from. As I don’t ask you to pay to read my messages, I don’t feel I should pay Mailchimp to send them. Should you prefer not to receive future installments you can unsubscribe below by the end of this month, but I hope to see you all again next time.

But the new barbarian is no uncouth
Desert-dweller; he does not emerge
From fir forests; factories bred him;
Corporate companies, college towns
Mothered his mind, and many journals
Backed his beliefs.
—W.H. Auden, The Age of Anxiety (1947)

Anxiety seems to be on the upswing these days. Not much is being done to address root causes, but pharma is there to help you adjust to fearing for the future, if not for your life.

Market Research firm Zion says that demand for anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications is booming and will continue to grow by more than 4% a year through the end of the decade. It lists nine market “drivers”, including ageing populations, new therapies, more prescriptions, stressful lives, etc, but doesn’t mention political or social anxieties like fear of crime. Even though the FBI says crime overall is decidedly down since the pandemic, three quarters of of Americans tell pollsters they think it has gone up. NPR’s take on it kinda left their experts scratching their heads. While some types of crimes are up, most serious crime largely happens in “urban” neighborhoods, not in suburbs or rural areas. We all knew that. Or I thought we did. A Gallup Poll taken last October summarized:

“Sixty-three percent of Americans describe the crime problem in the U.S. as either extremely or very serious, up from 54% when last measured in 2021 and the highest in Gallup’s trend.” (chart)

Gallup found that more than half of urban, suburban, and rural residents believe serious crime is a problem where they live and distinctly more so nationally. They all can’t be right; if this poll reflects a representative random sample, believing crime is a bigger problem elsewhere is either due to misapprehension, misinformation, or both. TV news and online hostilities don’t help, for sure. So, some people decide to arm themselves while others just suck down a pill and look over their shoulders more.

FBI Crime statistics conveniently ignore death threats, which seem to be on the rise recently and are a prime source of anxiety for recipients. My impression is that most of the ones not aimed at relatives appear to target people to the political left of the perpetrators. Ask yourself, “Can I recall hearing about a death threat on a conservative that didn’t come from someone to their right?” and I’ll bet you can’t think of any. So then ask yourself, “Why are rightists addicted to frontier justice more than me?”1

Think about that. It could have some bearing on the future of our republic and it’s happening now.

Ever since Trump wasn’t re-elected, intimidation has become a ridiculously serious problem for public officials. Browse the Brennan Center for Justice’s study called Intimidation of State and Local Officeholders and you’ll be appalled to learn:

State and local officeholders report alarming, increasing levels of threats and other abuse.

  • Forty-three percent of state legislators experienced threats.
  • Eighteen percent of local officeholders experienced threats.
  • Thirty-eight percent of state legislators reported that the amount of abuse they experience has increased since first taking public office, while only 16 percent reported that it has decreased.
  • Twenty-nine percent of state legislators reported that the seriousness of the incidents has increased, while only 12 percent reported that it has decreased.

The severity and nature of abuse varies across demographic groups.

  • Larger shares of women than men, and larger shares of Republicans than Democrats, reported increases in the severity of abuse since first taking public office.
  • Women were three to four times as likely as men to experience abuse targeting their gender.
  • Officeholders of color were more than three times as likely as white officeholders to experience abuse targeting their race.
  • Larger shares of women and people of color serving in local elected office experienced abuse related to their families — including their children — than did other officeholders.
  • Women serving in state legislatures were nearly four times as likely as men to experience abuse of a sexual nature.

A well-researched Reuters study fleshes out this grim trend. Was it always so scary to hold public office? I don’t think so, given that the incidence of threats is ratcheting up. Neither study tabulated the party affiliations of the targeted pols and officials, but I suspect that the pols mostly occupied the left half of the political spectrum, though not necessarily other targeted officials. So, why would that be?

Many such threats relate to never-ending hot-button issues: Abortion. Gun, Property, and Civil Rights. Wokeness. Queerness. Culture wars have devolved to a point where red states target groups they disapprove of with anti-woke legislation2 and both public officials and rights activists get freelance mortal threats, not just vitriol, whether they’re highly visible, hold lowly office, or simply voice their opinions.

In a NYT op-ed (free link) columnist David French describes receiving ominous threats to his family in reaction to his columns. “We’ve faced death threats,” he wrote, “a bomb scare, a clumsy swatting attempt and doxxing by white nationalists. People have shown up at our home. A man even came to my kids’ school.”

Swatting is where cowardly would-be vigilantes get the police to do their dirty work by placing a 911 call saying there’s big trouble at the house of someone they want to harass. Then they sit back and chuckle, visualizing heavily-armed cops busting into their target’s house without warning or maybe even knocking. To avoid being nabbed, they spoof phone numbers or use burner phones. Some are caught, but very few are ever prosecuted. It gives bored cops something exciting to do, but at considerable taxpayer and emotional expense.

And recently, GOP contender Nikki Haley said her family got swatted, twice. Maybe news of that will help to raise awareness and revulsion about this burgeoning passive-aggressive practice. But, I fear, for every ardent Trump acolyte who resorts to that, many more are prepped to take matters into their own hands should their messiah not win. Will they or won’t they, that is the question that I had hoped would never come up, but there it is and it’s making me anxious. Maybe I should take something for that.

Cheers anyway,



1 Consider this roundup of research that pretty clearly indicates that conservative-leaning folks tend to be more confident in their beliefs and more willing to engage in altercations over them. But why? Is there a gene for that?

2 As usual, Florida leads the way. It just became illegal for Florida residents to put an assumed gender on their driver’s licenses. To ice the cake, those that do so going forward face prosecution for fraud. Read the memo and weep.

You can find this and previous Perfidy Press Provocations in our newsletter archive. Should you see any you like, please consider forwarding this or links to others to people who might like to subscribe, and thanks.

Brought to you by Perfidy Press

Published inEssayHuman BeingsNational SecurityNewsletterPolitics

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.