9WTK: What's in the black binder of hate?

DENVER - To be or not to be. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth.

Great lines written by great authors tend to inspire an equal sense of awe and gratitude.

And then there's the line written by a Minnesota man to a female legislator in March of last year during the height of the gun debate inside the Colorado State Capitol.

"You are a whore who has no fear of being raped," he typed.

Trust us, it was one of the more tame lines collected in what the Colorado Senate Democrats call their "Black Binder of Hate."

"You're nothing but a worthless peace [sic] of Communist sh--," wrote another wordsmith.

"You should go buy a gun and kill yourself you disgusting, ugly, fat piece of sh--," wrote a man who called himself Chad.

The emails that came into the inboxes of Colorado state legislators last session contained the kind of words that might make even the most vulgar sailor blush.

"Eat sh-- you commie anti-gun ---- licking ----- guzzling liberal ----stick, drop dead and soon," wrote another Chaucer-wannabe.

"I spent seven years in the state legislature. There's no question last year was the darkest, most venomous year by an order of magnitude of a thousand," Democrat John Morse recently told 9Wants to Know.

Morse was the Senate President before voters in El Paso County recalled him last year largely due to his gun control stance. "I thought I'd been called every name in the book, but oh my God!" he added.

Yet he said as bad as some of the emailed messages he received undoubtedly were, he knows his female colleagues received the brunt of the truly vile ones, and he said females of color got it the worst.

"The sexist, racist addition to it was really surprising, because I'm not sure how that comes into the issues we were speaking about," Democrat Angela Giron told us.

Giron was recalled from the Colorado Senate at the same time Morse was.

Republicans say they have been the subject of vile emails and voice messages as well.

"Some of the harshest communications I have ever received have come over email," said Rep. Bob Gardner (R-Colorado Springs).

Yet he said it would be a bad idea to ignore anger directed toward legislators.

"The message is, people feel powerless or not being listened to or they feel like they have to be over the top in order to be heard," he said.

Conservative radio talk show host Michael Brown concurred. "A lot of it is human nature. People are frustrated. They feel like they have no control. They've got to vent their anger somewhere," he said.

Brown, a current host of an afternoon-drive time radio show on KHOW, said he draws the line at vulgarity however.

"What the internet does is that it allows people, under the cloak of anonymity, to become more vulgar, and I think that's too bad," he said. "And I think it's getting worse."

Governor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, received a number of vulgar emails from people further to his left criticizing his pro-fracking stance.

"What the f--- is wrong with you?" wrote someone named Campbell.

"You are f------ out of here you slimy piece of sh--."

"FOR THE PEOPLE. Don't forget mother------," wrote another.

"F--- You!!!" opined another.

"On the internet, this is really easy," said 9News forensic psychologist Dr. Max Wachtel. "The internet, absolutely, gives people more power. Most of the time, that's a great thing."

Just not in this instance, he said.

"There's research that backs this up: As much as we dislike rudeness, we see it as it relates to power and assertiveness. That person who is rude gets what he wants," he said.

Republicans in the Colorado legislature, minus one vulgar email offered to 9Wants to Know, declined our request to divulge more emails.

"Constituents send correspondence to our office with an expectation of privacy and we plan to honor that commitment. Despite the fact that some correspondence we receive uses inappropriate or hostile language, we encourage all Coloradans to take part in the political process and reach out to their representatives," read a written statement from Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman.

All sides agreed the vulgarity, whether online or in voice messages, will almost certainly never get them to change their minds.

"My mind has been changed plenty," explained Morse, "but never by using the B-word, the N-word, the C-word, or by someone screaming at me."

"I shut everything off knowing what I might anticipate after that," said Giron.

"Look, bigots exist. Ignorant people exist. Stupid people exist," said Brown. "There's a difference between being colorful - as I like to say zinging someone - and being vulgar."

"I think all of us in public life have an obligation to say to our constituents, 'Look, if you crank down the noise level a bit you have a whole lot better chance of being effective," said Rep. Gardner.


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