A police car blocks the street below the home of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her husband Paul Pelosi in San Francisco, Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. Paul Pelosi, was attacked and severely beaten by an assailant with a hammer who broke into their San Francisco home early Friday, according to people familiar with the investigation. Credit: Eric Risberg / AP

The BDN Editorial Board operates independently from the newsroom, and does not set policies or contribute to reporting or editing articles elsewhere in the newspaper or on bangordailynews.com.

We’re running out of ways to say it: Violence has no place in American politics.

It does not belong at the homes of politicians or judges. It does not belong at congressional baseball practice. It does not belong on Capitol Hill as lawmakers certify the electoral count in a presidential election.

The same goes for threats of violence. They have no place at political rallies in Maine or elsewhere, or in the race for Maine’s next governor. They have no place at the polls.

Political violence is despicable. It must be rejected at every turn, regardless of where it comes from on the political spectrum. To tolerate, excuse, or even make light of this violence is to weaken the bonds that hold America together, despite our many differences. It erodes the way we think about and communicate with each other, casting political differences as fundamental flaws and political opponents as enemies.

And so, we watch the situation involving the family of Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, with great alarm. First and foremost, we are alarmed that Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, was allegedly attacked in their San Francisco home with a hammer. He sustained multiple injuries, including a fractured skull. According to authorities, the alleged attacker was asking “where is Nancy?” when he broke into the home. She was thankfully not home.

“Sadly a violent man broke into our family home yesterday morning, demanded to confront me and brutally attacked my husband Paul,” Speaker Pelosi said in a statement on Saturday. “Our children, our grandchildren and I are heartbroken and traumatized by the life threatening attack on our Pop. We are grateful for the quick response of law enforcement and emergency services and for the life-saving medical care he is receiving.”

The alleged attack in the early hours of Friday morning was alarming enough, and more details are sure to emerge. But the response from some to these events has also been alarming.

Conspiracy theories have taken hold on social media, questioning the veracity of the attack or downplaying its seriousness. Fresh off his recent purchase of Twitter, billionaire Elon Musk wasted little time in amplifying a particular conspiracy theory about the Pelosi attack, only to later delete that tweet. In some corners of the internet and society, the attack has been treated as a joke — including by Donald Trump Jr., son of the former president.

Others have responded with empathy and condemnation. U.S. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell quickly said he was “horrified and disgusted” by the attack, for example.

“I am horrified by this vicious attack on Paul Pelosi at his home,” Maine Sen. Susan Collins said in a statement on Friday. “My prayers are with him, Speaker Pelosi, and their family.”

Why is this so hard for others to say? All Americans need to be able to condemn political violence — regardless of ideology or party affiliation — without excuses, whataboutism or even mockery.

It may sound a bit trite, but this country needs to take a collective deep breath and reconsider our priorities. Are we willing to tolerate, excuse, deny or laugh about violence just because it happens to a politician (or a member of their family) who we disagree with? If the answer to that question is yes — and polling shows that an alarming number of people believe it might be — then we’re in terrible trouble.

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The BDN Editorial Board

The Bangor Daily News editorial board members are Publisher Richard J. Warren, Editorial Page Editor Susan Young, Assistant Editorial Page Editor Matt Junker and BDN President Todd Benoit. Young has worked...