In the old days, death threats were made in one of three ways: (1) face-to-face; (2) by phone; or (3) by letter. The advantage of the last two options (for the person making the threats) is that the threats could be made anonymously, and without fear of prosecution.
Nowadays, there’s a fourth avenue: the Internet. But regardless of whether the death threat comes via a dummy email address or an account on Twitter or Facebook, the sender can be tracked down by the authorities.
In the case of the death threats supposedly made against 49ers receiver Kyle Williams after his miscues in the NFC title game, the authorities should track down the information, and prosecute those who made the threats to the full extent of the law. If behavior like that is tolerated, it will be repeated. Conversely, if these threats are made and the only reaction is a shrug and/or an acceptance that indignities like this go with the territory, the threats will continue. And they’ll intensify.
At some point, a failure to prevent these kinds of threats could result in someone feeling sufficiently emboldened to take action, and we could have our own Andrés Escobar situation.