This is now the national equivalent of a brawl breaking out in the stands at a Little League T-ball game because Joey’s dad thinks he was safe and Billy’s dad says he was out. Except instead of headlocks and punches, there’s fake anthrax and professional security involved.

Are we sure this is still a “liberals hate the Palins” story and not a story about DWTS fans investing psychologically in this moronic show to a near-psychotic degree?

We’re told the threats began to come in last week, after Bristol and Mark made the finals. Execs on the show told Mark to stop tweeting because it was inciting people. Mark complied.

Sources connected with the show tell us extra security will be on hand tonight for the show. And, if Bristol and Mark head to New York, execs are talking about breaking format and not doing their interview outside in Times Square — but rather in the studio, where it’s more secure…

As one source said, “Everyone is genuinely worried. This is a dance competition, and it’s just gotten crazy.”

Ballas did stop tweeting last week, curiously signing off for the season despite having just made the finals. Four exciting possibilities for tonight, then. One: Bristol shocks her critics with an amazing performance and wins the title. Her detractors, while unhappy, grudgingly accept the verdict on account of her clutch dancing under pressure. Two: Bristol performs horribly, tripping and falling during her routine — and wins anyway. Riots ensue. Three: Bristol taunts her critics by wearing a yellow Gadsden flag dress for her routine. Riots erupt even before the winner is announced. Four: Bristol loses, either because DWTS producers “tweak” the results or because the Palin-hating viewers at home decide to unite behind one of the other candidates in hopes of defeating her. A sneak preview of the 2012 primaries, starring Jennifer Grey as Mitt Romney!

Actually, there’s a fifth possibility. Hmmm…

It’s similar to the situation “Strictly Come Dancing” — the original U.K. version of the ballroom bash — was in two seasons ago.

After casting retired political correspondent John Sergeant, the competition took an unexpected twist. Despite the fact the then-64-year-old took to dancing like zombies take to walking, his fans never let him down. The judges, including “Dancing’s” moonlighting panelists Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli, consistently gave Sergeant the lowest marks to no avail.

From there, Sergeant’s story splits from Palin’s. Nine weeks into the contest, the dance-impaired celebrity stepped down for the good of the show.

“I was hoping to stay in as long as possible,” Sergeant said in a statement. “The trouble is that there is now a real danger that I might win the competition. Even for me, that would be a joke too far.”

She’s not going to drop out at this point, obviously, but if she wins and the consensus is that Grey and/or the other guy danced better, it’d be classy of her to acknowledge it somehow. And, of course, it would scramble the media narrative, which is all set to run embittered navel-gazing “What It All Means” pieces in the aftermath about DWTS being a metaphor for 2012 and Palin and meritocracy and tea party fever and blah blah blah. Kill ’em with kindness, Bristol! Exit question: My Gadsden dress idea is genius, no? It’s okay to admit it.

Update: You don’t have to read the whole thing but at least have a look-see at how long Sally Quinn goes on about Bristol and DWTS. Like I said up top: Near-psychotic. And here’s that “What It All Means” conventional wisdom now…

This could be a metaphor for things to come. Sarah Palin is a force to be reckoned with and if her supporters can influence a TV show of 23 million viewers they can have more serious influence on elections. And if they can mobilize the religious right then the Democrats better pay attention and start dancing as fast as they can.

And as for the people who cheated when they voted, all I can say is, “Lord have mercy!”