Frances Fox Piven, a seventy-eight-year-old liberal professor at City University of New York, has found herself a target of death threats after Glenn Beck suggested she was an enemy of the Constitution on his television program. Piven had written, with her husband, an article back in 1966 called "The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty," which proposed that overwhelming the welfare rolls could actually force reform and lead to guaranteed incomes. Beck declared that the number of welfare recipients rose dramatically in the years after Piven's proposal, likening the article to "economic sabotage."
Now Piven says anonymous visitors to Beck's Web site have called for her death, with some even contacting her directly via e-mail. A liberal nonprofit group, the Center for Constitutional Rights, wrote to Fox News chairman Roger Ailes on Thursday, requesting that he halt Beck's "false accusations" about Piven. "Mr. Beck is putting Professor Piven in actual physical danger of a violent response," the group claimed.
This story obviously takes on more weight considering the recent events in Tucson, and the charged political climate that has become more stark with the rise of technology. To be fair, Beck should of course be allowed to express his opinion short of a political fatwa, but it will be interesting to see if he tames his rhetoric going forward, considering an elderly academic is now facing threats on her life due to his verbiage. Piven said she was amazed that she was still a topic of conversation on Beck's show as recently as Wednesday. "There are hundreds and hundreds of people who are just boiling with anger and hate," she said.