On Wednesday, August 15, upon first hearing news of the shooting of a security guard at the DC headquarters of the Family Planning Council, my reaction was "How ironic." This was shortly followed by "Chickens coming home to roost."
I stand by both thoughts, now committed to typeface. This is not to be construed that I was happy to hear the news, nor to learn it was only the tip of another iceberg, that it might have been another mass-killing had it not been for the actions of a very brave and adept security guard who, despite having taken the only bullet, managed to take down the shooter, a guy named Floyd Corkins, who apparently showed up to critique the anti-gay politics of The Center by shooting up the place.
I hope Corkins bears the full brunt of the law for what he did and for what he intended to do.
I also hope people do not feel this was somehow justified, this aborted radical violence, simply because it came from the left and was aimed at the right.
And I also hope people can get past the notion that The Family Planning Council does not deserve to be listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as a hate organization.
There has been a lot of controversy in the short few days since the shooting and aborted massacre. Part of it has been fomented by well meaning liberals, much of it by spokespeople for the Center itself. The gist of the controversy is that the Center should not be classified as a hate group and that this very labeling may have contributed to Corkins having shown up at their door armed to the teeth. They feel they have been wrongly painted as hateful when they are actually simply sharing a set of beliefs about how society ought to be organized - according to a given religious interpretation. According to The Washington Examiner: "The organization strongly opposes gay marriage and abortion and says it advocates 'faith, family and freedom in public policy and public opinion.' The conservative group maintains a powerful lobbying presence, testifying before Congress and reviewing legislation."
The organization has suggested that being labeled a hate group by the SPLC helped make it a target.
Let us bring my scorecard up to date:
I do not approve of shooting people with whom I disagree, regardless of how wildly wrong I may believe them to be.
I do not believe groups such as The Family Planning Council are made targets of left-wing lunatics by being listed as hate groups by the SPLC or anyone else.
There will be further updates. Onward...
Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the SPLC, had this to say about the Center:
"The FRC routinely pushes out demonizing claims that gay people are child molesters and worse -- claims that are provably false. It should stop the demonization and affirm the dignity of all people."
Does Potok make the case for listing TFPC as a hate group?
Were the writers of the false and inflammatory "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" acting out of hate when they promoted false information about Judaism and Jews? Would anyone deny The Protocols were cited numerous times as rationale for the persecution and murder of Jews? Would sane person deny that unholy screed contributed, ultimately, to the murder of millions of Jews, Romanians, Poles, and, yes, homosexuals?
I fail to see any difference between the misinformation spread by TFPC and the authors of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. In fact, upon closer examination, one would find the two are rather similar in that they each ascribe evil, sinister, anti-social, anti-Christian agendae to gay and Jewish people respectively.
This is, at the very least, comparable to yelling "FIRE!" in a crowded theater. It is, at worst, comparable to incitement to lynching or, worse, genocide.
Throwing lit matches on gasoline is hazardous to those in the vicinity of the gasoline. Gay and lesbian people, like Jews, have lived in a gasoline-soaked mileiu for centuries. For that matter, so have African-Americans and, at one time, Freemasons (there was even once an Anti-Masonry political party extant here in the Republic). We can now add to that growing list atheists, free-thinkers, abortion providers, Muslims, etc.
Our climate is volatile. It is, in fact, explosive. Recent events should make that clear, as does our history as an extremely violent people.
With hate, intolerance, violence and irrationality spiking over the past four years, defining what is hateful becomes not only more complex, but more necessary.
Does that make the SPLC a hate group?
Is the Pope Jewish?
The fact that spokesmen for The Family Planning Center tried to portray themselves as victims of the SPLC suggests they are not nearly as ignorant as they might at first appear. Their argument was a clever semantic bit of jiu jitsu. It doesn't work for one simple reason: Hate is not the same as love, and persecution is not the same as protection.
Now to update my list of apostasies. Add this to my list:
I do not wish groups like The Family Planning Council to be silenced by fear or by guilt (of which latter they are incapable anyway). I want them to be allowed to do what they do. And I want them monitored by independent groups like the SPCL. The two might well monitor each other. I'm fine with that.
We need to know what the ignorant believe, what the hate-filled are saying among themselves, what is being written on the tabula rasa of the innocent, uninformed, ignorant or hateful minds in our midst.
We need to know who has the matches, who has the gasoline, and who is trying to set the fires. We need to know how.
We need to know in order to avoid a state of ignorance.
We need to know, not simply believe.
We need to know.