Did Tribune Print Reader Threat to a Senator? "I Will Duel Him Until His or My Death"

Categories: Media, Politics

Thumbnail image for Senator Kurt Schaefer.jpg
Kurt Schaefer, do you wanna duel?
Currently on the Columbia Daily Tribune's "Letters to the Editor" page, you will find commentary from one reader that is a bit unusual.

In his April 17 letter, Dave Raithel writes of Republican State Senator Kurt Schaefer, "I will duel with him until his or my death, with weapons of his choosing, at a place and time as he identifies."

On Twitter, readers are slamming the paper for choosing to publish a letter that some are labeling a "death threat."

"I thought it was a lively piece of rhetoric," Jim Robertson, managing editor, tells Daily RFT. "If you read it...in context, I think you'd have to work hard to make that a death threat."

So first, here ya go, the letter in its full context:

Schaefer picks up where Hulshof left off
Wednesday, April 17, 2013 at 2:00 pm

Editor, the Tribune: I accuse that Sen. Kurt Schaefer is a man of low account and dishonor, a coward without principle; a disingenuous and sniveling prevaricator; a corrupt malefactor and despiser of the public good, and that not since the odious Kenny Hulshof besmirched the title of congressman have the people of Columbia been so ill served by one betraying the public trust for lucre and power; and that to defend my accusation and allow the scoundrel satisfaction to refute these charges, I will duel with him until his or my death, with weapons of his choosing, at a place and time as he identifies.

Hammers and trashcan lids, knives, pistols, shotguns, no-holds-barred, bare-knuckled eye-gouging, ear-biting, groin-kicking and brawling (on account of I still don't know what it is to really beat somebody to death) are all good.

Call my bluff.

Dave Raithel 402 Lema Lane

Reached today, Robertson defends the decision to run the letter, noting that the author is a "well-known dissident in Columbia."

"He has been using that kind of...over-the-top rhetoric for 40 years," he continues. "Our readers, with a few exceptions, know who the guy is."

Here are some tweets from angry or confused readers in response to the published letter:

Robertson says he hasn't gotten any specific requests to remove the item.

"I can't imagine us taking it down," he says. "That's an overreaction."

What does Raithel have to say about his letter?

"I'm surprised they printed it," he tells Daily RFT.

Continue for our interview with the Dave Raithel.

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My Voice Nation Help

Fighting words to be sure. But not a death threat, which, to me, is the act of telling someone you are going to kill them, with the intended victim having no say in the matter.  But instead, he was challenged, or "called out", as we used to say.  Sounds to me like the good senator could have just said, "No, thank you.", and ended the matter.

David J. McCutcheon
David J. McCutcheon

Depends on the context. Sounds like the guy is willing to verbally duel him until one of the two expires, which isn't a death threat. Unless he knows how to fence, then maybe.

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