LINES THAT MUST NOT BE CROSSED…. Rep. Tom Perriello (D) represents a fairly conservative district in Virginia, but that didn’t stop him from voting in favor of health care reform on Sunday. In response, local Tea Party activists posted the lawmaker’s home address online, and encouraged constituents to go to Perriello’s house to share their thoughts on the new law.

The right-wing activists, however, made a mistake: they posted the address to the congressman’s brother’s house.

Nevertheless, a day later, there was an incident.

Federal and local authorities are investigating a severed gas line at the home of U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello’s brother, discovered the day after Tea Party activists posted the address online so opponents could “drop by” and “express their thanks” for Perriello’s vote in favor of health care reform.

The gas line connected a propane tank to a gas grill on the home’s screened-in porch, according to sources in Tom Perriello’s office.

The incident is being viewed as an attempted threat to a member of congress, sources said… The local FBI field office and the Albemarle County fire marshal are investigating the incident. Police have stepped up patrols in the area as well.

A local Tea Party leader, Nigel Coleman, was apparently one of two activists who posted Bo Perriello’s address online Monday. When told that it wasn’t actually the lawmaker’s address, he wrote, “Oh well, collateral damage.” (Coleman later removed that comment, and said today that he “condemns” the incident at Bo Perriello’s home.)

Coleman’s Danville Tea Party previously made headlines in November for organizing a rally where Perriello and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were to be burned in effigy, though the event was later cancelled.

And now a congressman’s brother’s gas line has been cut, perhaps as the latest form of Tea Party “protest.”

Look, I realize that right-wing activists are outraged by health care reform. I’m not altogether sure why, but their anger is obvious.

But once we get to the point where gas lines are severed at private residences — following outrageous vandalism and weekend protests in which a member of Congress was spat on — it’s not unreasonable to wonder if the far-right base has gotten dangerously out of control.*

* edited

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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.