NOW’S NOT A GOOD TIME FOR ‘LYNCHING’ JOKES…. Rep. Todd Akin, a conservative Republican from Missouri, held a town-hall event this week in his district, and reflected on right-wing mobs who are fighting against health care reform.

“This particular meeting, in a way is a little bit unique,” Akin said. “Different people from Washington, D.C., have come back to their districts and have town hall meetings, and they almost got lynched.”

The conservative crowd thought this was great.”I would assume you’re not approving lynchings, because we don’t want to do that,” Akin said, generating more laughs as he put his hand to his neck.

Look, I realize Akin wasn’t encouraging “lynchings” and he was probably trying to be funny. But Akin and other conservative leaders have whipped up the right-wing base with a combination of lies and rage, and the results have bordered on dangerous. One Democratic lawmaker has received death threats because he supports health care reform. Another Democratic lawmaker was “physically assaulted.” Far-right activists have registered their misguided, uninformed fury with everything from nooses to tombstones to signs with Nazi “SS” lettering.

Akin opposes health care reform; I get that. He’s a far-right lawmaker who probably finds right-wing mobs comforting. But under the circumstances, maybe now would be a good time to skip the lynching jokes?

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.