Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Monday, February 16, 2009

"Liberals Are a Pest Like Termites"

The Knoxville News Sentinel has received some criticism for posting the five page manifesto from Jim Adkisson. Adkisson was the man who went into the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church this past summer with a shotgun, wounding six people and killing two during a children's program at the church.

He was convicted this past week and he will spend the rest of his life in prison. Here is that story. Why did he do it?

“This was a hate crime,” he wrote. “Liberals are a pest like termites, millions of them … the only way we can rid ourselves of this evil is kill them in the streets, kill them where they gather.”
Here is a copy of his manifesto on pdf.

Adkisson showed no remorse for his actions.

Some criticized the News-Sentinel for publishing his manifesto. One commenter wrote:

"By posting that letter and reporting that Adkisson has called upon others to do the same, you could have planted the seed in other mentally unstable people who share his views. This phenomenon has occurred since the Colombine shooting, where other shooters or would-be shooters cite Eric Harris and Dylon Klebold as inspiration. This manifesto could instigate another massacre by an unstable person with misguided anger. I plead with you to remove this pdf from the internet so that it does not fall into the hands of the wrong person."
The newspaper responded:

Thank you for your note. I take the concern very seriously. I must say, however, I have a very different view of the publication of the manifesto, and of the way our community and society might react to it.

Sadly, it may be true that some rare, disturbed individual might take the manifesto as a call to arms and be inspired to emulate Jim Adkisson. I can understand that those closest to the tragedy at the TVUUC might especially hold that fear. It is a legitimate concern.

I firmly believe, however, that a much, much greater majority of readers will react otherwise. Some of them may be politicians, preachers or commentators who have engaged in overheated rhetoric, and the manifesto might force them to confront the impact of their intemperate words. Others may be people who have slipped too easily into stereotyping and categorizing; they will see the results of their attitudes taken to a horrifying extreme and may re-evalute them. Still others will be people who have listened casually to the venomous speech of others, and they may be moved to speak up and challenge what they are hearing.

That is my hope as well.


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