John on September 1, 2010 at 4:06 pm
Here is Max Fisher deploring the politicization of the hostage taking:
Lee, who police say may have explosives, has long protested the Discovery Channel building and has posted a crazed, rambling Internet “manifesto“, calling the human species the “most destructive, filthy, pollutive creatures around” and insisting that the Discovery Channel air his views. Though Lee is clearly sick, and though the hostage crisis is still ongoing as of this writing, bloggers and partisan commentators have not hesitated in using this incident to score political points.
Yes, Lee is obviously unhinged. You don’t threaten to kill people unless you have problems generally. But apart from his actions, there is little in his “crazed” manifesto that represents his own original thought. Most of these ideas have a long, respectable history on the left going back at least as far as Paul Ehlich’s The Population Bomb. Neo-Malthusian ideas have been repeated many times since then by tenured professors around the globe. I’ve written about some of them here on the site more than once. In fact, here’s a description of one lecture by highly respected University of Texas Professor Eric Pianka:
“He recommended airborne Ebola as an ideal killing virus,” Mims said. “He showed slides of the Four Horsemen of the apocalypse and human skulls. He joked about requiring universal sterilization. It reminded me of a futuristic science fiction movie with a crazed scientist planning the death of humanity.”
It’s not all that different than Lee’s “crazed” manifesto, is it?
As for Lee himself, he was a devotee of Richard Dawkins and joined the following meetup groups: The Maryland Science and Skepticism Meetup Group, Washington Area Secular Humanist Meetup Group, CFI-DC Drinking Skeptically. In short, he considered himself a rationalist.
Does Max Fisher think someone who holds Lee’s views is necessarily crazed? Or is he referring to the style and not the content?
Addendum: For the record, here are my thoughts on when it is fair to look at someone’s beliefs in connection to their use of violence.
Not all violence is the result of insanity. Some is calculated for effect in a rational way, i.e. suicide bombings. In those cases, some goal is given a higher value than life. This is certainly not normal, but it’s also not necessarily insane. In cases where the killer’s (or would be killer’s) actions flow rationally from their beliefs, it should be fair to point out that ideas do have consequences.
This post is timely once again: In defense of the blame game
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