I Feel Alright Tonight

One of my favorite private pleasures is to lift my foot off the gas just as I get to the last gas station out of town so that my car rolls slowly to the edge of the ridge.  Sometimes, I’m not sure if I’m going to make it to the top of the crest without my car stopping.  But I never have, yet–stopped before the decline starts.

And it’s right then, when the car starts to roll down the hill of its own accord, gathering speed, that tickles me every time.

“Hate Crime” or Domestic Terrorism?

I have become more and more convinced that the whole “hate crime” debate has become so heated as to be ridiculous and meaningless and that, in the end, it’s not necessary to have a distinction of a crime as a “hate crime” because such crimes are already covered under the terrorism statute of the Federal code.

Pushing for “hate crime” legislation means we end up having to have these idiotic discussions about how all crime is based in “hate” and that punishing people for committing a hate crime is somehow tantamount to punishing them for their thoughts which is somehow different than any other case in which people pass judgment on why you commit a crime in order to figure out what you should be charged with. And frankly I’m tired of listening to the whining and the crying and the pissing and the moaning.

The Federal Statute dealing with terrorism says that domestic terrorism is

5) the term “domestic terrorism” means activities that—

(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;
(B) appear to be intended—

(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.
And what do we know about Adkisson?
He was involved in acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of our criminal codes. He appears to have intended to intimidate a civilian population and hoped to affect the conduct of the government (he wanted to shoot liberal leaders, but since he couldn’t reach them, looked to the voters) and it occurred here.
I say the Feds should charge him as a domestic terrorist and forget about whether this was a “hate crime.”


In the comments to my last post, Rachel says:

Just another comment, because I feel kind of disjointed about this, too – going to veer slightly from your post here. I understand what people are saying about the hate spewed by those who authored books found in Adkisson’s home. As a librarian, it sort of troubles me for people to be looking at his bookshelf and saying, “See, see, what he was reading explains it.” I know, he did claim that it was about “liberals.” Something about it gives me the willies, though.

And I think I get what’s troubling her–that it’s not such a short walk from “see, that rap music is ruining kids everywhere” to “see, that conservative bullshit is ruining kids everywhere” and not such a short leap beyond either of those things to “so, let’s rid the world of that music or those books.”

But the other thing, to me anyway, is that I’d like folks to have the decency to admit that their ideas matter.  I mean, isn’t that why many of us blog?  Hoping, at the least, to find like-minded people to reaffirm our rightness in the world or people who disagree with us whose minds we can either change or who we can make fun of (again to reaffirm our rightness in the world)?

We know that words matter.

And yet we dance around the idea that words matter.

So, that is what it is.

I, for one, would just like folks to take a second to acknowledge that words do matter, that you can’t sit in your public life for a decade spouting off about how liberals are ruining America, how white guys would be getting what they’re “entitled” to if not for the liberals and the gays and the illegals stealing it from them, and then act shocked and surprised when your words resonate.

I mean, I’m torn.  Do I believe that, say, Bill O’Reilly is directly responsible for what happened in Knoxville?  No.  Adkisson clearly had issues and something out there would have given him a framework for his anger.  If not O’Reilly then, I don’t know, maybe listening to Toby Keith albums for 40 days straight might have done it.

We can’t, as a free society (or what’s left of one), run around trying to anticipate which forms of expression are going to set someone off and quash them.

But on the other hand, I also believe that, if there weren’t an ongoing national monologue about how liberals are ruining America, with our gay-loving, baby-killing multicultural pervert ways, it might have taken Adkisson a long, long time to give shape to his anger and to find a focus for it.

As Myca, over at Alas, a Blog, puts it, “See, it turns out that when you said all that shit . . . people were listening. Jim D. Adkisson was listening.”

But, if you read Katie’s post this morning or this post from Sadly, No!, you’ll see already how this is being explained away.  The Unitarians brought this on themselves or Adkisson wasn’t really conservative or sure, this was tragic, but it wasn’t really that tragic, or this wasn’t about killing liberals, that was just a cover for his true desire to kill Christians*.

And I mean, please, could we have just one break in the clouds?  One moment when the light shines through and people get it?  Just even for one second, that when you run around calling for liberals to be rounded up and shot or when you call us traitors or claim that we’re the greatest threat to America, it might cause some people to feel that we need to be rounded up and shot.

Your words matter.  They have weight.  They spur people to action.

And can you then, therefore, have the decency to stop advocating for people to kill us?

Because, you know what happens when you advocate for people to kill us?

They do.


*Though, as many have noted, there’s something darkly funny about how it’s now that the Unitarians get considered Christian.