Wednesday, August 13, 2008

For Once, I Hate Being Right

Last month, I wrote a blog about how a Unitarian Universalist church in Tennessee was attacked by a loon who blamed liberal and gay people for his woes, including job loss, killing several peace-loving people. In his personal library was a copy of Michael Savage's book, "Liberalism is a Mental Health Disorder," along with Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly's 'work.' While I wouldn't suggest it's their fault that this man went unhinged, certainly their work impacted who he decided to go all looney tunes against. Except, unlike the cartoons, these people don't come back when anvils are dropped on their heads in the form of a bullet through their heart.

Well, it's happened again.
A man barged into the Arkansas Democratic headquarters and opened fire Wednesday, fatally shooting the state party chairman before speeding off in his pickup. Police later shot and killed the suspect after a 30-mile chase.

Little Rock police spokesman Lt. Terry Hastings identified the suspect as Timothy Dale, 50, of Searcy. Police said they don't know a motive. However, they said that moments after the shooting he pointed a handgun at the building manager at the nearby the Arkansas Baptist headquarters. He told the manager "I lost my job," said Dan Jordan, a Baptist convention official.

Right now, we have a lot of fanatics who are listening to the Michael Savage and Bill O'Reilly types. Many of these people are desperate, poor and unemployed. They're spurned on by a worsening economy and the buzz of an election. They're dangerous, quite frankly, especially when they're told (and believe) the hate speech that passes on the public airwaves every day as 'right-wing commentary.' They're told that liberals and gays are the cause of their problems and they're out to cleanse us.

Of course, most of the people who hear this speech and like it aren't quite so crazy as this most recent murdering scumbag. However, even in those cases there's still a major effect. It's effecting policy, it's effecting the intellectual curiosity of this country and it's effecting civil rights. The fact that the economy is going bad is only exacerbating these problems. A stronger economy will do a lot to solve these problems across the country, as will a purging of the hate speech over the public airwaves (hopefully by corporations that realize the damage they're doing to this country). However, unless we own this problem and realize that hate speech leads to hate-inspired attacks against groups of people, then these problems will get worse before they get better.

There will always be mentally unhinged people in this country, but the current policy setters aren't doing society any favors, and the current tone of this country and its corporate media owners are exacerbating the problems and feeding the hatred. Something's gotta give, or we're only going to see more examples of this Little Rock shooting - and those will only be the obvious examples.


Anonymous said...

It's horrifying when I hear people I know praise Bill O'Reilly's wisdom or tell me how wonderful Rush Limbaugh is. They have listened so long to the right wing rhetoric, they think it makes sense.
And they know so little history, they don't even know that it's been done before.

tblade said...

Although I share your suspicions, it's too early and there aren't enough public facts to categorize this guy as right wing and/or religious nut job.

For all we know he's a registered Democrat. Not that I'm holding my breath, but taking a tragedy to support an opinion can bite you in the rear if the facts play out different then our first assumptions. Be cautious.

But today I'm going to play the role of hypocrite and add more fuel to the speculation fire: It seems the suspect left his job/believed he was fired from a Target store. Just a couple weeks ago, Arkansas-based Walmart, a department store competitor of Target, called meetings to discourage employees from voting for Democrats and Obama because it would cause massive Wal-Mart job losses.

There's no evidence that connects the suspects motives and the Wal-Mart story, but it's an interesting coincidence. Add that to the milieu of Savages and Rushes and perhaps you don't make a psycho killer, but stoke the "blame the left" flames.

Joel Patterson said...

So, tblade, about the killer's politics, the Arkansas Times writes: Is there any chance political passion played a role? It is far too early to say. But, for the record, we obtained Johnson's voting record in White County. He was a regular voter, casting ballots 13 times since November 2000. He voted Republican more often than not in primary balloting. He voted Republican in 2002 and 2004 primaries and the 2008 presidential primary. He voted in the Democratic primary and Democratic runoff primary in 2006. There was no record of a vote in this year's May primary on either side.

The Democratic Primary in 2006 was only a contest in downballot races like Lt Gov and Supreme Court positions.

tblade said...

@ Joel

Yikes. I hadn't seen that yet. It will be interesting to see if our immediate suspicions manifest themselves.

There are definitely troubling aspects in certain areas of masculine ultra-conservative culture, as with any American sub-culture that is connected with violent outbursts. In this respect, I thoroughly agree with what Ryan wrote.

Anonymous said...

I bet it was a disgruntled customer that the victim screwed at his car dealership business, not everything is always about politics.

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