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A Pennsylvania newspaper is very sorry it printed a letter calling for Obama’s execution

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Libby Nelson is Vox's policy editor, leading coverage of how government action and inaction shape American life. Libby has more than a decade of policy journalism experience, including at Inside Higher Ed and Politico. She joined Vox in 2014.

The Daily Item, the newspaper in Sunbury, Pennsylvania, wants you to know it is very sorry for printing two paragraphs of a reader letter that called for President Obama's execution.

"The straight forward reason the letter headlined 'What is a Ramadi?' appeared is no bells went off when the editor handling the letter read it and placed it on the opinion page," the editorial board wrote, saying that years of "divisive rhetoric" made the violent phrasing seem normal.

The letter, published Monday, castigates Obama for the fall of the Iraqi city Ramadi to ISIS. Most of it is pretty standard, until the end, when it takes an abrupt turn into calling on the families of veterans to violently overthrow the government:

To the families of those fallen heros whose blood lies on the sands of Iraq; don’t you think it might be time to rise up against an administration who has adequately demonstrated their gross incompetence?

I think the appropriate, and politically correct, term is regime change. Forgive me for being blunt, but throughout history this has previously been accompanied by execution by guillotine, firing squad, public hanging.

I have absolutely no reason to expect that current practice should be any different. The end result is elimination of the problem, the method is superfluous.

The paper isn't apologizing for printing the letter — just for not removing the final portion. "The final two metaphorical paragraphs of the Ramadi letter were inescapably an incitement to have the chief executive of our government executed," the editorial board wrote. "They should have been deleted."

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