The price of unabashed vitriol?

I’m a Unitarian which is a bit like the “religion for non-religious” folks. For the most part Unitarians are socially progressive. In general I am a “live and let live” sort of guy (politically I’m libertarian). In July 2008 Jim Adkisson went on a shooting rampage at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, killing two and wounding several others. His motive was simply to kill liberals. Today he was sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to the charge. At his sentencing he smiled and showed absolutely no remorse. Church member John Bohstedt, who helped tackle Adkisson, had this to say:

Unbalanced, yes. Bitter, yes. Evil, yes. Insane, not in our ordinary use of the word… There are a lot of people who hate liberals, and if we stir that around in the pot and on the airwaves, eventually there will be people (like Adkisson) … who get infected by the violent rhetoric and put it into violent action… Do you think there are other Jim Adkissons out there listening to hate speech? I do.

I hesitated in titling this post. At one point I was tempted to exchange the term ‘unabashed’ with ‘unchecked.’ As a libertarian I am fundamentally against controlling free speech and using the term ‘unchecked’ implies I would be in favor of regulating speech, which I am not. So I chose ‘unabashed’ because it nails exactly what Bohstedt is talking about. We have reached the point in this country where people who unabashedly spread vitriolic hate are no longer at the fringes of our society. How long will it be before we end up as fascist as the Nazis we fought in World War II? Perhaps with the Obama administration in place we’ve made a change for the better (regardless of whether or not they’re a generally good administration, they are at least attempting to raise the standards of discourse). But I can’t help but feel that it’s only a temporary change. And that is frightening.


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