The Green Gunman


Three comments about the Discovery Channel gunman James Lee:

1. Yes, he's an environmentalist. Lee's brand of environmentalism may be quirky—not many green manifestos contain the words "a game show format contest would be in order"—but his politics clearly center around the environment. That's a change from the spate of George Metesky types who have carried out most of the other recent acts of private political violence, whose ideologies are hard to fit in any conventional category at all. Lee is more like Scott Roeder, the anti-abortion assassin who killed George Tiller.

2. Other environmentalists are not responsible for what he did. As I wrote when Tiller was killed, words do have influence, but that doesn't mean people are morally responsible for all the ways their words can be received. The pro-life movement's rhetoric is not to blame for Roeder, and the green movement's rhetoric is not to blame for Lee. I can't endorse James Delingpole's view that "there is not a cigarette paper's difference" between the ideologies of James Lee and the Prince of Wales. The two men may agree about the virtues of population control, but there's no sign that they agree about the virtues of kidnapping people and threatening to kill them.

3. It's terrorism, but it isn't a particularly menacing kind of terrorism. In The Washington Examiner, Mark Hemingway pivoted from quoting Lee's misanthropic manifesto to suggesting that eco-terrorism is "America's biggest domestic terrorist threat." Well, unlike some of the people who get saddled with the "eco-terrorist" label, Lee really does fit the bill. But consider the small number of lives that were endangered yesterday, and the fact that the only person who ended up dying was the thug who took the hostages in the first place. If eco-terror is the biggest threat, then this couldn't be a good example of it—or else the other sorts of domestic terrorists are really pathetic.