Another Homegrown Terrorist, This Time in Tennessee

Police: Man Shot Churchgoers Over Liberal Views

Knoxville, Tennessee—An unemployed man accused of opening fire with a shotgun and killing two people at a Unitarian church apparently targeted the congregation out of hatred for its support of liberal social policies, police said Monday.

That makes a lot of sense. This whackjob is unhappy because he lost his job, gets a letter saying he’s losing his food stamps too, and instead of blaming the Republicans who have been in charge of the country for the past eight years, he trots off to the nearest UUA congregation and opens fire during a children’s performance.

Two people are dead, one because he gave his life in an attempt to save others. Five more are injured–no children, at least.

What did those people do to upset the homegrown terrorist?

The Unitarian-Universalist church promotes progressive social work, including advocacy of women and gay rights. The Knoxville congregation also has provided sanctuary for political refugees, fed the homeless, and founded a chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, according to its Web site.

Goodness. How upsetting. Obviously, they caused him to lose his trucking job. Yep. Makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?

Sam Harris’ views on religion make more sense every day.

Cyn is Rick's wife, Katie's Mom, and Esther & Oliver's Mémé. She's also a professional geek, avid reader, fledgling coder, enthusiastic gamer (TTRPGs), occasional singer, and devoted stitcher.
Posts created 4262

5 thoughts on “Another Homegrown Terrorist, This Time in Tennessee

  1. Our friend Jess used to co-run the Spectrum queer youth ministry at TVUUC. The gentleman that got killed was a diligent volunteer and passionate about helping queer youth. There’s a lot of stunned incomprehension here.

  2. I wasn’t coherent enough to put that together with where y’all are. If we can do anything to help, please let us know. *hugs*

  3. I have found this case disturbing at a very fundamental level, perhaps because it is the living example of the problem with free speech.

    The issue of “the only answer to hate speech is more speech” seems to be wrong (despite the fact that I desperately want to believe in it). Our society seems to have a broken political discourse (in addition to the broken health care system, the broken family system, and the broken financial system).

    I don’t think that the killer was religious, or shooting because of religious views. He *said* he was out to kill people for their political views, and targeted a church where people of the political view that has been dehumanized by Fox et al. congregate. However, I noted a couple of other things about him: he was adopted as a newborn, grew up in a churchgoing family (and apparently disapproved of being forced to go to church) and targeted the church to which his ex-wife belonged – the ex-wife whom he had threatened to murder (Google Liza Alexander for more about this; she was his fourth ex-wife, and I did not see any information about any of the others). Moreover, he did this just before his food stamps eligibility was about to run out.

    So he had rage (unemployment, loneliness), fear (no food, coming right up, and rising costs), and a strong societal voice saying that the people he was mad at (his wife, and the community that embraced her when they were divorced) were traitors and should be killed. Moreover, he had military training (Airborne?) which implies another strong voice that shouts “kill-kill-kill” inside his head. And early separation trauma.

    And what’s scariest is that there are many people just as angry, just as desperate, and hearing just the same messages.

  4. You know a lot more about his background than I’ve seen so far, but I’m Googling to catch up now.

    Yes, he had many problems–but, as you say, so do many other people. I believe that the anti-intellectualism of this country, the refusal to encourage critical thinking, contributes to this kind of crime. Did it make any sense for him to lash out at people who had no direct connection to his problems? No. Did his ex-wife cause his problems? I seriously doubt she had anything to do with them. But he lashed out, because they were an easy target and, as you said, those who share liberal views are vilified regularly.

  5. That’s exactly it – there are many other people in this country who have been given tacit societal permission to lash out murderously at a dehumanized, nebulous entity vaguely referred to as “those liberals” by a specific stream of anti-democracy pundits (which are on the right wing side of politics here and now; the left wing has had its share, of course).

    Considering the fact that pressures are rising and the U.S. has nearly zero by way of support net for those who will fail, I am afraid of an epidemic of repeats.

    And of course, his ex-wife didn’t cause his problems. They divorced in 2000, more than eight years ago. (Yes, I’ve been googling this all day). The *cause* of his problems is a broken society, where people become desperate and enraged and have no way to express these feelings that is societally accepted except for the form known as “suicide by cop”.

    Other societies have had other terrible responses to these same sort pressures: killing minorities, going to war, clamping down on various perceived Others. Where in the world is there less of this sort of thing in times of crisis? Can we learn from any part of history how NOT to become collectively hostages of madmen in tough times?

Comments are closed.

Related Posts

Begin typing your search term above and press enter to search. Press ESC to cancel.

Back To Top