Appearing before reporters alongside House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC), Hoyer expressed concern about the recent spat of incidents targeting lawmakers, and blamed the violent rhetoric surrounding the health care debate for creating a potentially dangerous atmosphere.
"When people start talking in the rhetoric of putting people on firing lines, that if they don't do something they will have physical harm done to them... or they put a target on their faces, with cross-hairs -- that activity aught to be unacceptable in our democracy," Hoyer said, making reference to a Sarah Palin Facebook post that uses cross-hairs to identify members of Congress who voted for health care reform.
Hoyer said "enough" members had complained of incidents to raise concerns, and stated that "Democracy cannot survive unless we have a civil society."
When a reporter asked if Hoyer felt members were really at risk, he responded: "Yes. We've had very serious incidents that have occurred over the last 48-72 hours."
Clyburn, for his part, added: "Many of us have very vivid lessons of history... I think all of us learned some great lessons in the sixties and seventies, and they're lessons none of us want to repeat."