You may recall the horrific shooting that took place last August at the Washington D.C. headquarters of the Family Research Council. The conservative political organization was the target of Floyd Lee Corkins, who came in and shot the guard (who survived) before being arrested. This past week, Corkins pleaded guilty to three different charges, including an act of terrorism.
It had already been reported that Corkins said “I don’t like your politics”, or words to that effect, at the time of the crime. An interview with the FBI reveals he in fact said much worse—Corkins told the feds he intended to “kill as many as possible and smear the Chick-Fil-A sandwiches in victims’ faces, and kill the guard.”
No one can say Corkins lacked a clear sense of philosophical purpose, and the FBI confirmed that the investigation showed he identified his targets by searching the website of the radical left-wing group, the Southern Poverty Law Center, which identified the Family Research Council as a so-called “hate group.” FRC president Tony Perkins minced no words last August in saying that while Corkins was the one who was guilty, the Southern Poverty Law Center bore some responsibility for its free and easy branding of political opponents as hate groups.
I’ll admit to mixed feelings about whether the SPLC bears some level of culpability. It’s easy to say yes, because this is an organization that has thrived on fomenting hatred against social traditionalists. We can extend this to media outlets like The Daily Kos, where the editor recklessly called a proposed constitutional amendment to define marriage between a man and a woman as a “the hate amendment” and was almost gleeful in his attempt to tie Sarah Palin to the shooting of former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
Is it then so unthinkable that a like-minded foot soldier would decide to get and gun and take it those guilty of such abominable hate?
This line of thought becomes more appealing when you consider that these secular left-wing outlets have made a living (quite literally) by taking violence against abortionists and applying it across the board to the pro-life movement. It didn’t matter how often pro-life leaders denounced the violence, the opportunity to make political hay was always seen by the secular left as the highest value worth striving for. They hurt a lot of people and damaged any real dialogue that might have taken place between the opposing sides.
We’re told in the Gospel that we’ll be judged by the same standard we apply to others, and by that standard it’s eminently fair to take the Family Research Council tragedy of August 15 and hang it squarely around the neck of the Southern Poverty Law Center, The Daily Kos and all who contributed to an atmosphere defining anything short of complete surrender to the left-wing social agenda as “hate.
It’s fair to hang that around their neck, but is it wise? Or is it a standard best left to God Himself?
If one can clean out the justifiable anger that exists at the tactics of the hard Left, is it really serving any good purpose to take the irresponsible use of free speech and link it to attempted murder? Aren’t the individuals who actually pick up the gun still the ones who are guilty—no excuses? Aren’t we on an extremely slippery slope if we make the linkage between rhetoric and murder too casually?
Ultimately, the victim of Floyd Corkin’s violence and the victim’s family deserve better than to be pawns in a political war, just as the parents and kids at Sandy Hook deserved better. The people at the Family Research Council today deserve better.
And ultimately, all of us deserve more than to get into a wrestling scrum with people like the leadership of the SPLC and The Daily Kos. After all, when you wrestle with a pig, the only result is you get as dirty as the pig.
Dan Flaherty is the author of Fulcrum, an Irish Catholic novel set in postwar Boston with a traditional Democratic mayoral campaign at its heart, and he is the editor-in-chief of TheSportsNotebook.com