Monday, July 28, 2008

Hate Crime

The Knoxville police are giving a press conference on the church shooting. It appears Jim D. Adkisson targeted this particular church because of its progressive stance regarding gays and its liberal positions in general. Apparently the church had been in the news recently where its progressive attitudes were highlighted.

Via CNN (I’m transcribing it from the broadcast):
“It appears what brought him to this horrible event was his lack of being able to obtain a job, his frustration over that, and his stated hatred for the liberal movement. We have recovered a 4 page letter in which he describes his feelings and the reasons he claims that he committed these offenses.

“He indicated also in that letter that he expected to be in there shooting people until the police arrived and he fully expected to be killed by the responding police.”

I guess he didn't think the liberals would fight back. Now he will have to live with what he did, a punishment far worse than if he had got his wish and been killed by the police.

What a profound tragedy. I hope the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist congregation of Knoxville knows that we in Nashville mourn their loss, and pray that they may find healing and peace of mind.

I know there are conservatives out there who don’t understand why hate crimes are different from other crimes. They don’t understand that a hate crime, which targets individuals because of the class of people they represent--people of color, liberals, gays, immigrants, Muslims, Christians, etc.--is designed to intimidate an entire group of people. They don’t see the difference.

The difference is very obvious to me. As a liberal, and a member of a progressive church known by the community to be liberal, and which welcomes all people regardless of sexual orientation, I feel like this crazy person could have just as easily have targeted our church.

CNN has also reported that the State of Tennessee had recently cut off Adkisson’s food stamps. He was unable to find a job and had his assistance cut off, and for some reason he blamed all that on liberals. You can’t make sense out of that except to say: public policy affects people’s lives. And people in desperate situations do desperate things. They go off and shoot people who in their twisted minds symbolize the source of their problems. They fly planes into buildings. They lash out because they don’t feel like they have any other alternatives. And innocent people get killed.

We live in troubled times. People are scared and insecure. They can’t find jobs or healthcare, and our safety net that once helped people in times of financial trouble has huge holes in it. And instead of talking about these issues, right wing wackjobs like Michael Savage and Glenn Beck create scapegoats. Even worse, our “responsible” media falls into the trap by urging these people along, giving them the microphone to broadcast their hatred, or covering their spew as if it were news. It’s not news. The news is that people don’t have jobs, healthcare, food stamps, housing.

I close with Matthew 5:9-12:

 9Blessed are the peacemakers,
      for they will be called sons of God.

 10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
      for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 11"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.

12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.