If I had to guess, I'd imagine that we'll see most news-outlets calling James Lee's armed takeover of the TV studio as an isolated incident.
And while that's absolutely correct, I have to point out the last few years of hyperbole in the media fear-mongering about potential home-grown terrorists produced by "conservatives" stoking the flames of anti-government sentiment. For a long time now, much of the media has been warning of increased attacks coming from Tea Party protesters and from other "right wing" extremist groups (often inaccurately including libertarians).
Last year, the Department of Homeland Security released a report highlighting the possible increase in extremist groups as a result of the recession, focusing - of course - mostly on those from the right.
In April of 2009, the Huffington Post unsurprisingly ran with the report, claiming:
"If you think the conservative "Tea Party" movement is daunting, take a look at a new report issued by the Department of Homeland Security that says right-wing extremism is on the rise throughout the country.HuffPo goes on to quote some even more hyperbolic nonsense from ThinkProgress (because they're obviously such an unbiased source for analysis of "conservative" thought, right?), highlighting passages from the DHS report about anti-immigration sentiments and of course, racism against President Obama.
In the report (a full copy of which is below), officials warn that right-wing extremists could use the bad state of the U.S. economy and the election of the country's first black president to recruit new members to their cause."
Now... CNN reported on the DHS release as well, and oddly enough, they included some information that the Huffington Post decided to leave out.... Here's a significant point:
"...the nine-page report said it has "no specific information that domestic right-wing terrorists are currently planning acts of violence"..."Oh... And... That the Southern Poverty Law Center (which tracks extremist groups):
"...has documented "a steady, not dramatic," growth of extremist groups -- from 602 in 2000 to 926 in 2008, an increase of more than 50 percent.So... Let's see... HuffPo takes the DHS report and instantly pushes ahead with the narrative that conservative thought and conservative issues are propelling an increase in extremists - and the idea that there is some kind of imminent danger associated with that - even though the original report made special effort to moderate such fears.
Though "there has been a lot of talk about the country being stolen," it is "a little early" to conclude that Obama's election has driven massive growth in such groups, he said.
A DHS official said the department was not trying to squelch free speech by issuing the report. "There is no link between extremists being talked about in that report and conservative political thinkers, activists and voters," the official said."
But when that report came out, we were in the middle of national "debates" about health care and other issues and day after day I was told by one talking head or another that the likes of Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh were inciting their viewers/listeners to potentially extreme or violent action.
Again at the Huffington Post, in an article titled "Did Rush Limbaugh Try to Incite Violence?", Jeffrey Feldman wrote:
"When a prominent radio figure begins systematically calling for his listeners to engage in acts that intended to bring about political violence, citizens have a responsibility to examine the implications of such a development.And then there was Senator Nancy Pelosi's comments in response to Joe Wilson's infamous "You Lie!" outburst in Congress...
In Limbaugh's case, the comparison to Rwandan hate radio shows the right-wing pundit's differences and similarities to past uses of broadcast media to incite violence. Limbaugh does not call for direct violent action, but he defines the American Left in ways that suggest violent action against them may be warranted.
Moreover, Limbaugh specifically claims that calling for citizens to create chaos leading to violence is a healthy part of the Democratic process, but that holding Liberal political views is a threat to democracy's survival--thereby leading his listeners to see the political opposition as a civil enemy."
"...Democrats have become increasingly concerned by the ratcheting up of rhetoric on both sides — and particularly alarmed by the recent hanging in effigy of Rep. Frank Kratovil (D-Md.) by a tea party activist on the Eastern Shore.So yep... Right wing extremists... Radio hosts inciting violence... Civil unrest being fueled by the rhetoric of conservative law-makers... Indeed.
"I have concerns about some of the language that is being used because I saw this myself in the late '70s in San Francisco, this king of rhetoric. ... It created a climate in which violence took place. ... I wish we would all curb our enthusiasm in some of the statements and understand that some of the ears that it is falling on are not as balanced as the person making the statements may assume.""
We spend a lot of time listening to people in the media talking about guys like Timothy McVeigh and others, but what about the Ted Kaczynski's of the world? What about PETA funding arsonists and murderers? What about the Animal Liberation Front or other eco-terrorist outfits? And of course, what about James Jay Lee?
The "left" has more than its share of violent extremists - and far more than its share of murderous revolutionaries - but unlike the cases of extremism coming from the so-called "right", we seem to ignore all of those or isolate them from their ideological roots.
Lee had a list of 11 demands he wanted the Discovery Channel to comply with - though I have to say, it gets pretty repetitive. Check out the first two demands (emphasis mine):
"The Discovery Channel MUST broadcast to the world their commitment to save the planet and to do the following IMMEDIATELY:Filthy human children... Like that one?
1. The Discovery Channel and it's affiliate channels MUST have daily television programs at prime time slots based on Daniel Quinn's "My Ishmael" pages 207-212 where solutions to save the planet would be done in the same way as the Industrial Revolution was done, by people building on each other's inventive ideas. Focus must be given on how people can live WITHOUT giving birth to more filthy human children since those new additions continue pollution and are pollution. A game show format contest would be in order. Perhaps also forums of leading scientists who understand and agree with the Malthus-Darwin science and the problem of human overpopulation. Do both. Do all until something WORKS and the natural world starts improving and human civilization building STOPS and is reversed! MAKE IT INTERESTING SO PEOPLE WATCH AND APPLY SOLUTIONS!!!!
2. All programs on Discovery Health-TLC must stop encouraging the birth of any more parasitic human infants and the false heroics behind those actions. In those programs' places, programs encouraging human sterilization and infertility must be pushed. All former pro-birth programs must now push in the direction of stopping human birth, not encouraging it."
Apart from advocating human sterilization and pushing mass infertility, Lee goes on to rail against war, which I find kind of ironic since he definitely wished for the destruction of humanity and lots of war is a great way to reduce populations. But whatever... The man certainly makes no sense in any other context, so why expect him to be consistent?
At any rate... The whole set of demands can largely be summed up by Lee's request that people be wiped off the face of the earth in order to preserve his bizarre concept of "nature"... Number 8 pretty much says it all:
"8. Saving the Planet means saving what's left of the non-human Wildlife by decreasing the Human population. That means stopping the human race from breeding any more disgusting human babies!You're the media, you can reach enough people. It's your resposibility because you reach so many minds!!!"Saving the Planet = No humans. Got that?
This is the ultimate consequence of the classic environmentalist's separation of man & nature, and their persistent and utterly idiotic devotion to the logical fallacy, Appeal to Nature, in which the argument is made that because something is "natural", it must be ideal.
Global Warming alarmism is always a fine example of this.
The assumption that average global temperatures today (or perhaps 50 years ago) are "correct", and that any deviation from that average is a problem. Why? Why is one temperature correct and another temperature incorrect?
Many environmentalists will say that the change in temperature will be a problem for humans, so that is a potentially legitimate reason to be concerned - though it's also a problem best solved by technology and wealth, not by policies that destroy wealth and inhibit development... But if it's just a question of bio-diversity and animal populations, even human population distribution for that matter, why is the current distribution ideal and a different one less ideal?
The Earth has seen all types of really immense climate changes over even the last 1,000 years - not to say anything of the last hundred million... And each time, plant & animal life survives, albeit often in a completely different form... But it remains a fallacy to presume that the form life exists today is the one that should be.
Aside from Appeals to Nature, Is-Ought Problems and the classic Naturalists Fallacy, the further problem with not only James Jay Lee, but in fact with most environmental activists, is a patently insane devotion to the idea that the planet is "over-populated" and other - as Ronald Bailey put it - Malthusian twaddle. This is complete, and utter nonsense which has been demonstrably false time & time again... But it's based on one of the most common misconceptions - that of the zero-sum world.
As Lee's favorite book ever, Ishmael, put it:
"The biological community is an economy, isn't it? I mean, if you start taking more for yourself, then there's got to be less for someone else, for something else. Isn't that so?" Ishmael answers, "Yes,"Sorry Ishmael... Your dumbass Gorilla brain (oh yeah... Ishmael is a telepathic Gorilla... Blech!) failed you.
Quite in opposition to such an idea, and easily demolishing Malthusianism on its face, humanity has used our considerable mental powers to greatly expand food and other resource production while needing less space and less energy through technological advancement. This means that Malthus' claim that population grew exponentially while resources are produced linearly is actually incorrect and can be/has/will be overcome through ingenuity. In Malthus' time, to produce the amount of food needed to sustain one human life required a hell of a lot more space than it does today - but humanity has this cool tendency to use intellect to solve problems like that - and this is why all of Malthus' predictions were wrong.
It's also why modern-day Malthusian idiots like Paul Erlich get their asses handed to them in the prognostication department repeatedly.
But these ideas are actually pretty mainstream for environmentalists!
The vast majority of self-described environmentalists who I've met, who I've seen on television or in the media or even who's books I've read or been exposed to hold all the basic premises that Lee used to create his idiots screed.
The world is over-populated! It's humanity vs. nature (rather than humanity as part of nature)! The way the world is right now is the way it ought to be. Blah blah blah.
The only difference is, many more sane people don't actually take guns & bombs into populated areas and threaten TV executives in order to promote their ideas... And fortunately most stop a little bit short of calling for mass human sterilization... At least... Not publicly.
But I often wonder - if you believe that mankind is a blight on nature, and that there are far too many people living on the planet... And especially if you take on even more ridiculous beliefs (as Lee did), such as the idea that " food production leads to the overpopulation of the Human race" - what alternative is there for you but to want a huge percentage of the human population of the world to either die or not ever reproduce?
Humanity is the problem, and there are way too many of us, right? So how can you not advocate for the eradication of a significant number of us?
What other conclusion can you draw?
There is a lot of danger in accepting the inevitable conclusions of a lot of ideas, and when you believe - fundamentally - that humanity is evil and that it is something that harms the way the world is "supposed" to be, you're not actually that far off from a guy like James Lee. Hopefully you're not a psychopath and you value specific human life more than your bad ideas - but if you are criminally insane, bad ideas have a lot of harmful consequences to those around you. Of course, if you're not criminally insane and you still hold a lot of bad ideas - with the right amount of force behind them, those ideas can harm a lot of people too.
Drawing hyperbolic conclusions about Al Gore's movie or books inciting people like Lee to crazy behavior is... well... crazy. Just like blaming Rush Limbaugh or Congressman Wilson for any potential "right wing" craziness would be completely incorrect... Just like blaming Catcher in the Rye or J.D. Salinger for the assassination of John Lennon would be an idiotic thing to do.
But recognizing the end-of-the-line logical conclusions of some people's horrific premises is worth doing and especially worth noting at times like these.