Time to amend that old saw. Perhaps something along the lines of, "it's all just politics and freedom of speech until someone loses a life."
Whadaya say, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Sharron Angle, Fox News, the Tea Party, and to a lesser extent but not really different in kind, Stephen Harper? (...not to mention countless others on both sides of the political spectrum, spanning issues throughout the world, who believe that throwing epithets is productive and does not lead to throwing bullets and bombs.)
To be clear on my position: inflammatory, partisan rhetoric is contrary to the ideals of freedom of speech, and destroys, rather than supports, democracy and citizen engagement. Let us collectively resolve to respond in a loud voice as follows when next we are confronted with someone spouting hyper-partisanship and demonizing rhetoric : "WHY DO YOU HATE DEMOCRACY AND PEACE SO MUCH?"