UPDATE: Potent video from the aftermath of the shooting at the Knoxville church via Knox News Sentinel reporter Frank Munger.
UPDATE 2: Early investigations indicate the accused killer targeted the church for what he perceived to be the political beliefs of members - being "liberal", being "Democrat", and supporting the gay and lesbian community.
-- More here in discussion of these topics: "Well, this is what happens when you foment hatred in order to win elections."
- A pastor speaks out.
- Framing this event as a politically motivated hate-crime appears to be unavoidable, something sure to set off an internet firestorm in this area of typically Conservative East Tennessee, and it is a key aspect of FBI involvement, especially given the incendiary statements from the accused killer, Jim Adkisson.
I'm wondering today how a shooting spree and some recent events might be linked. Others are too.
Yesterday morning I was reading at a few regular local web sites when at KnoxBlab the news came across about a shooting spree at the Tennessee Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville. The postings were within minutes of the event, and it was at least a few hours before the local traditional media outlets had the reports. Today the story is being well-tracked online and in reports and posts at No Silence Here, and at many other sites too.
I had just been reading one writer yesterday morning at the Blab who had an electrical problem at their house and had asked for some assistance. They community responded quickly, with much help, and it wasn't long before a fellow poster had arrived at the home to effect repairs. As wacky as some might see community boards, I had always noticed a strong sense of emphasis on the word "community." People seek aid on many things, from recipes to electrical problems, and yes, even to just sharing news on a terrible tragedy like a stranger walking into a church service and opening up with a shotgun on the crowd.
I visited some friends an hour or so later, and we talked about the shooting and theorized that the church had recently hosted a Planned Parenthood seminar, that some in the area had voiced opposition to the event. I've received many emails from the church myself over the last few years, via other friends, who see much worthwhile the church's stance on so many issues - a stance of tolerance and building acceptance, building community. And no, that is not the case in every church you might attend, only some.
And by this morning, it was apparent the shooter, tackled by church members and quickly taken into custody by law enforcement, was telling officials about his hatred for "liberal" groups, about how the event had been planned, a 4-page letter left by the killer in his car. I hated to realize our theory of yesterday seems to have been based in fact.
I have also noticed in the last few weeks - at numerous blogs in middle and east Tennessee - a spike in online comments raging with racism and hatred toward anything deemed "liberal" or "non-white". I am not linking to any of them, no. I read them, perhaps you did too. Some were nasty and vicious and all were deeply disturbed and wrong, wrong, wrong. But it helped formulate my theory as I had noticed such a sudden spike in taking these views public - as if they were really wanting more than just to "sound off', a sense they wanted to do something.
The inevitable debate about owning and carrying a gun wherever you go arrives fast on the heels of the story. The use of a gun to kill will sadly occur if someone wants to use the gun for that purpose no matter what the law might be. From reports so far, there were many in the church who sacrificed their safety to end the threat. And anyone can and has used any political belief or religious view to rage and kill against other people. They can also use beliefs to effect change in far more positive ways.
An aberrant event does not equate as "proof" of something, other than the reality that people can do bad things to other people for any manner of reasons or delusions or both.
So while the internet hums with talk of the event and what it means on so many levels of experiences, I can best offer only my deepest sympathies and condolences to all involved in this tragedy. I hope you take a moment to send them your best thoughts as well.