Sooooo … pro-gay violence. What is the deal with that?
Sorry for the Seinfieldian intro. It's a challenge not to lead with a question when trying to explore the case of gay and lesbian community center volunteer in D.C. who walked into Christian conservative Family Research Council's office Wednesday with a gun and a bag of Chick-fil-A sandwiches and shot a security guard.
Let's let the Washington Post dispose of the basics:
The man authorities say walked into the downtown D.C. offices of the Family Research Council and shot a security guard Wednesday morning was charged Thursday with assault with intent to kill while armed and interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition, according to court filings and officials.
Floyd Lee Corkins II, 28, of Herndon, is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in D.C. Thursday afternoon.
According to an FBI affidavit made public Thursday, Corkins walked into the lobby of the conservative group's headqurters shortly before 11 a.m. and encountered the guard, Leonardo Reno Johnson.
A law enforcement official familiar with the incident but not authorized to talk about it, said Corkins asked to see someone Johnson didn't know. Johnson has worked at the Council for 11 years and became suspicious. Corkins said he had the name in his bag, bent down and pulled out a 9mm handgun, the official said.
Corkins said "I don't like your politics," according to the FBI affidavit. He then shot at Johnson, the affidavit said, and hit him in the arm.
The guard wrestled the gun away from Corkins and subdued him. The FBI recovered a (legally purchased) 9mm Sig Sauer handgun, additional ammunition, and a bag with 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches. Way to not honor the boycott, Floyd.
The Family Research Council will no doubt appreciate how some guy with a gun and bag full of Chick-fil-A sandwiches will feed its narrative they are the actual victims of oppression, not the gays. The scaremongering Southern Poverty Law Center (read Jacob Sullum's comments on their efforts to try whip up even more fear following the Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting) declared the Family Research Council to be a hate group in 2010, and now they're being blamed for the shooting. Via The Hill:
The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), one of the nation's leading opponents of same-sex marriage, told The Hill the shooting was a direct result of the Southern Poverty Law Center's decision in 2010 to place the FRC on its list of hate groups for its rhetoric on gays.
Brian Brown, the president of NOM, pointed to a recent blog post by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), one of the largest gay-rights groups in the country. The post, "Paul Ryan Speaking at Hate Group's Annual Conference," called attention to the vice presidential candidate's scheduled appearance at the FRC's national summit next month.
"Today's attack is the clearest sign we've seen that labeling pro-marriage groups as 'hateful' must end," Brown said in a statement issued following the shooting.
"For too long national gay-rights groups have intentionally marginalized and ostracized pro-marriage groups and individuals by labeling them as 'hateful' and 'bigoted.' "
Interestingly, the FRC probably does not want Corkins to be charged with a hate crime. Ryan Reilly at Talking Points Memo notes that D.C.'s hate crime laws include penalties for violent crimes motivated by political affiliation:
While the FRC has specifically opposed expanding hate crimes protections to individuals targeted for violent attacks because of their sexual orientation or gender identity because they believe it "sends the false message that deviant sexual behaviors are somehow equivalent to other categories of protection such as race or sex," the group also opposes any hate crimes law on principle.
"Violent attacks upon people or property are already illegal, regardless of the motive behind them. With 'hate crime' laws, however, people are essentially given one penalty for the actions they engaged in, and an additional penalty for the politically incorrect thoughts that allegedly motivated those actions," the group states on its website.
"We oppose all Thought Crime laws in principle, because penalizing people specifically for their thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes — even ones abhorrent to us and to the vast majority of Americans, such as racism — would undermine the freedom of speech and thought at the heart of our democracy," the group states.
It would also be self-defeating in the group's fundraising efforts. If Corkins were charged with a hate crime, it would undercut their claims that they are the victims of an oppressive, secular Christian-hating culture. (Not that this is an argument in favor of hate crime laws, mind you. Hate crime laws are awful.)
So if this is treated as a weird isolated incident as it should be (and be grateful it wasn't worse than it was), is it too much to ask that this incident brings about and end to all the tiresome rhetoric about angry rhetoric? That is, will both sides agree that combative political speech is being used by unstable people as an excuse to engage in violence and it is not the cause of violence? Can we get to that point, pretty please?