Sure, the guy is nuts, but this is what inevitably comes from violent, eliminationist rhetoric:
The shotgun-wielding suspect in Sunday’s mass shooting at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church planned to shoot until police shot him, Knoxville Police Chief Sterling P. Owen IV said this morning.
Jim D. Adkisson, 58, of Powell wrote a four-page letter in which he described his feelings and why he committed the shooting, Owen said.
Adkisson said he was frustrated about not being able to obtain a job and how much he hated the liberal movement, Owen said.
Adkisson hated liberals… and so he shot up a Unitarian church. During a children’s play.
Committing suicide by going on a shooting rampage in a Unitarian church is like shooting fish in a barrel and expecting the fish to shoot back. The Unitarians I’ve known are about the most peaceful and harmless folks I’ve ever met; indeed, the only church less likely for Adkisson to find armed resistance would have been a Friends meeting house. (And even then, only maybe.)
So of course this guy was crazy. Sane people don’t go on shooting rampages.
But hatred like his doesn’t grow in a vacuum; it is nurtured, shaped and focused by hate-mongers like Ann Coulter and Bill O’Reilly, who cheer at the notion of killing a few liberals to keep us in line, or who have made careers out of vilifying the political opposition as terrorists or traitors or worse. No, neither Coulter nor O’Reilly nor any of their cohorts pulled the trigger, but they surely understood that their words might feed the insanity of someone who could. If these are the mullahs of the extremist right, then the liberal-hating homicidal Adkisson is a suicide bomber of their own creation.
Say what you want about the aggressive rhetoric of netroots activists like me, but we don’t advocate violence, because we understand that ultimately, the sole purpose of advocacy is to incite action.
Sam Smith at Scholars and Rogues weighs in:
Jim Adkisson was an unbalanced man, and perhaps it was only a matter of time before he snapped. But two questions to ponder: first, who created the conditions that hastened the snap? And second, when the train jumped the tracks, who created the bogeyman that the diseased brain latched onto as the cause of all the pain?
I can’t tell you who to point to specifically if you need to blame somebody. But I can tell you that yesterday’s tragedy at Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church occurred in a context, a known and knowable context. His reasons strike us as familiar because they are. Every day for the past 30 years we’ve heard words like these – on talk radio, on right-wing propaganda outlets like FOX, on blogs aimed at dividing and conquering we the people, from the mouths of sub-human politicians who’ll do anything to assure their spot at the trough. And eventually, from the mouths of ordinary citizens who have been systematically denied the kinds of educational programs necessary to inoculate them against these obscenities, which to the genuinely critical mind are so transparent as to be invisible.
I can tell you that while there’s no way to point at one person, it’s easy to point at those who worked together to poison the well from which Jim Adkisson drank. Limbaugh. Rove. Savage. Schlesinger. Murdoch. Helms. Falwell. Robertson. Dobson. O’Reilly. Phelps. Matalin. Ingraham. Hannity. Beck. Bush. The list goes on for quite awhile, but these are some of the bigger names.
There’s also ample blame for the dolts in charge at CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, USA Today, and hundreds of local papers and stations around the country, because you ignorantly parroted their lies in the name of “balance.”
Adkisson is on you. All of you. And while yesterday might prove, mercifully, to be the last event of its kind that we ever see, only a moron would bet on it.