Almost 50 years ago, as a University of Wisconsin undergrad, I was asked to debate our involvement in Vietnam before a student audience. My opponent was a member of the Madison City Council and a self described leftist who spent most of his time denouncing conservatives as racists and enemies of individual liberty and freedom of speech. I spoke first and, as my opponent made his way to the microphone, he announced that he wouldn't dignify my arguments with a rebuttal other than to say that "come the revolution," he looked forward to my being put up against a wall and shot. The subsequent standing ovation was quite an endorsement of the value of civil discourse. At about the same time, a group of UW students decided to start an alternative conservative newspaper. Reaction came in the form of threats to toss a Molotov cocktail into the paper's office, an idea that couldn't be dismissed on our turbulent campus. Threats don't convince These events weighed on my mind as the NRA braced for a firestorm of hatred in the days after the horrific mass shooting in Newtown, Conn. A university professor suggested that NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre be beheaded so that the more thoughtful among us could display his "head on a stick."

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