It’s A Hostage Situation, Not A Political Issue

There’s a guy holding an unknown number of people hostage at Discovery Channel’s headquarters in Silver Spring Maryland. He’s apparently published a manifesto that includes complaints about Discovery programming as well as overpopulation and references to a book he’s read.

And, as Dave Weigel notes, it’s already sparked people on Twitter, cable, and the blogosphere to act as if the acts of a crazed loner have political meaning, starting with a three part reaction:

1) Investigation. Who is this guy? Right and left partisans immediately worry that it’s one of their team (defined loosely — a white liberal might worry that it’s a Muslim radical who’ll prove Frank Gaffney right).

2) Revelation. The identity of the perp is discovered — in this case, we find that it’s an anti-human population activist. Everyone pretends that their previous theories about what might be happening were never really serious.

3) Polarization. The people whose ideology most matches the perp cry loudly that he is crazy and has nothing to do with them. The people whose ideology is antithetical to the perp’s — in this case, conservative skeptics of environmentalism — subtly hint that the perp is too representative of the other team. Oh, sure, they’re not saying that. But every time someone goes crazy on the other side, they get blamed, so it’s only fair.

In 24 hours or so, a few articles will be pitched and sold about the political meaning of the story. Everyone else will forget about it and feel vaguely dirty for having thought so hard about it at all.

Here’s hoping the situation ends peacefully and this guy is put away. Beyond that, turning this into the political story of the day while people are still being held hostage is actually pretty sickening.

Update: Police have confirmed that the suspect has been shot, whether he’s dead or alive is unclear. The hostages are safe. The irresponsible political punditry, however, will continue until further notice.

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. DavidL says:

    Al Gore’s chickens come home to roost.

  2. See, that’s exactly what I mean

  3. Steve Plunk says:

    Wait a minute Doug.  If this were a hostage situation at an abortion clinic you know what would be said.  Motives in any crime are an essential part of what’s going on and it’s what the public is deserving of knowing.  It’s not sick to want to know why a nut job is a nut job and what would motivate that man to commit violence.

  4. So because other people do stupid and irresponsible things, we should all do stupid and irresponsible things ?

    Yea, thanks but no thanks

  5. Brummagem Joe says:

    “It’s not sick to want to know why a nut job is a nut job and what would motivate that man to commit violence.”

    Oh goody Steve Plunk and David L have today’s crisis to feed their self righteous, voyeuristic and paranoid fantasies. So the day hasn’t been entirely wasted. 

  6. Steve Plunk says:

    BJ,  What exactly is self righteous, voyeuristic, or paranoid about what I said?  Don’t people have a right to know what might motivate criminal behavior?  There’s an entire science devoted to understanding the criminal mind and I would sure like to know what warning signs might be.
     
    So who’s self righteous?

  7. Brummagem Joe says:

    Steve Plunk says:
    Wednesday, September 1, 2010 at 17:59

    “Don’t people have a right to know what might motivate criminal behavior?  There’s an entire science devoted to understanding the criminal mind and I would sure like to know what warning signs might be.”

    So now you’re a criminal scientist dedicated to expanding the frontiers of human knowledge. And how exactly is the public good served by satisfying your prurient voyeurism about this grotesque, sad little incident where some guy who is clearly crazy, goes overboard, tries to take hostages, and ends up lying in a pool of his own blood after he’s been shot to death? The world and I can’t wait to learn… DR Plunk.    

  8. RWB says:

    He is anti immigration and anchor baby; that makes him a tea partier, right?

  9. Juneau: says:

    @ Mataconis
     

    So because other people do stupid and irresponsible things, we should all do stupid and irresponsible things ?
    Yea, thanks but no thanks


    ‘Cause conservatives are always expected to take the high road don’t ‘cha know, even though the liberals use every nuance and hint to smear conservatives.  The liberal media would, and has, kept  stories alive for weeks – such as the supposed Hutaree “Christian” militia group busted by the FBI – simply because it had ties to a “conservative” agenda (in their eyes).
     
    See, this is why conservatism has been getting its butt kicked for the last 20 years – because so-called “moderate” conservatives, which now is really nothing more than democrat-lite, seem to still feel that it is honorable to not use the same yardstick to evaluate events as the liberals do.
     
    This is a terrible strategy which is akin to the naive way that warfare was conducted early in the 20th century.  There was a famous saying that illustrated this type of naive (and self-destructive) view.    It’s attributed to President Herbert Hoover’s Secretary of State Henry Stimson, who said “Gentlemen don’t read other gentlemen’s mail”  In 1929 Stimson shut down the office in the US State Dept. responsible for breaking codes to read the messages between other countries embassies and their capitals.
     
    Even more revealing is the language used by our current President in relation to the power of response, and I quote ” If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.”  Of course, he is discussing verbal response and the attitude of combat when challenged and opposed.
     
    Conservatives should respond in kind…  Mr. Mataconis’ reservations notwithstanding.
     

    the office in the US State Department responsible for cracking

    the office in the U.S. State Department responsible for breaking codes to read messages sent between embassies of other countries and their capitals.

  10. Brian Knapp says:

    ‘Cause conservatives are always expected to take the high road don’t ‘cha know, even though the liberals use every nuance and hint to smear conservatives.

    When you walk and talk and fight like your opponent…

  11. Steve Plunk says:

    BJ,  Take a breath and calm down, think a bit.  Did I claim to be a scientist or doctor?  Of course not so quit building that straw man and understand I am defending the people’s right to ask questions about crimes and criminal behavior.  Read my posts and try to understand I am countering Doug’s position that we shouldn’t even be asking what motivated this crime, we should just accept it as criminal behavior and not ask what the motives were.  I heartily disagree and it’s not about morbid curiosity or voyeuristic pleasure.
     
    It appalling to think you feel those who disagree with your view are prurient voyeurs.  That fundamental unfairness and rush to judgment of people you don’t know strikes me as rather sanctimonious and arrogant.  Your incivility is showing.

  12. G.A.Phillips says:

    He is anti immigration and anchor baby; that makes him a tea partier, right?

    No he was a crazy as anti human abortionist liberal planet worshiper like Obama’s science Czar and his hero ALgore…..