Attempted Mass Murder at Family Research Council HQ

August 21, 2012

Last week, a man who volunteered at a “community center for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people” or “support center for the gay community” and “strongly supported gay rights” entered the headquarters of the pro-marriage Family Research Council in Washington, D. C., and shot a security guard in the arm.

The shooter, Floyd Lee Corkins II, upon entering, “told the guard ‘words to the effect of “I don’t like your politics.”’”  Glenn Beck interviewed a first-hand witness to what happened next:

GLENN: . . . you were actually there when the shooter came?

GENERAL BOYKIN: I was. It was about 10:46 on Wednesday morning. He walked in the lobby, set a backpack down in front of the guard desk and then reached in his backpack. Fortunately this guard who was actually the building manager but kind of dual roles as a guard, realized something was up and got out of his chair and approached the man and just as the man pulled a pistol, pointed it at his head, this gentle giant of a guard reached up and grabbed the gun and he shot him — the gunman shot our man Leo Johnson in the wrist but with one arm, Leo wrestled this man to the ground and took his gun away from him and what a hero this guy was. He saved a lot of people and there’s no question, Glenn, this guy’s intent based on the fact that he had about 50 rounds of ammunition and 15 Chick-fil-A bags was this was going to be a mass murder on our — a large scale.

GLENN: You actually talked to the gunman?

GENERAL BOYKIN: I listened as the gunman lay on the floor talking to police and he said, I don’t like the policies here and, you know, he — in fact, he stated that to the guard, as well. So, yeah, it was — there was no question what his motive was. He tied us to Chick-fil-A and I think the scenario is — it doesn’t take much imagination, Glenn. He was going to go through and kill as many people as he could and drop Chick-fil-A bags at every dead body to send a signal that he was reacting to the — our stance on traditional marriage, that being between a man and a woman.

(Emphasis added.)

In addition to his sack of Chick-fil-A sandwiches and enough bullets to kill two thirds of the Family Research Council’s employees, Corkins was carrying the address of another pro-marriage group, the Traditional Values Coalition:

Traditional Values Coalition President Andrea Lafferty said FBI agents visited her group’s Capitol Hill offices hours after the Wednesday morning shooting as part of their investigation. The next day, she said, members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force came by and confirmed that “our information was in his pocket,” including the location of the group’s offices.

“I was stunned,” Lafferty told The Associated Press, adding that she believes her group may have been targeted.

The liberal Southern Poverty Law Center has been calling the Family Research Council a “hate group” since 2010, making itself part of a larger trend of leftist delegitimization of dissent:

Ideologically, the country is divided roughly in half (actually twice as many identify as conservative as liberal, roughly 40% to 20%, but let’s not split hairs).  Conservatives and liberals disagree with each other on any number of substantive questions, but ideally we all agree on certain parameters for how we deal with those disagreements—e.g., you don’t kill people for disagreeing with you.  That is out of bounds.

Conveniently, however, liberals keep defining the terms of this or that issue in such a way that it becomes impossible to disagree with them without also being, by definition, out of bounds—declining to acquiesce in a novel definition of marriage becomes “homophobia”, thinking that we should still enforce some of our existing immigration laws becomes “racist”, wanting to reduce government dependency becomes “racist”, wanting Republicans to win elections becomes “racist”—come to think of it, much of conservatism becomes “racist”.  We can no longer have a national conversation if one side is determined to consider the other side by definition beyond the bounds of civil conversation.

Traditionally, if it has any use at all, a term like “hate group” refers to groups that are out of bounds in such a way—e.g., the KKK murdered their opponents; so they were a “hate group”, out of bounds and not a legitimate participant in the national conversation.

Not only has the Southern Poverty Law Center made the term essentially worthless by throwing it around and applying it to a mainstream conservative organization like the Family Research Council (which does not use violence against its opponents), but the misnomer has even come full circle, as a pro-homosexuality liberal attempted to kill people at the Family Research Council for disagreeing with him.

Pro-homosexuality organization the Human Rights Campaign has also repeated the Southern Poverty Law Center’s reckless use of the “hate group” label.

As Red State’s Erick Erickson says, to be clear,

I noted that if a gunman had entered the Human Rights Campaign’s offices a day after being labeled a “hate group” by a conservative organization, the media would be denouncing the conservative group as inciting the shooting and spend a week on homophobia, etc.

To be clear, I do not think the Human Rights Campaign incited the shooter. I generally don’t think conservative or liberal groups incite violence — the crazy does it all on its own.

But I have absolutely no doubt that the media would engage in handwringing had the situation been reversed.

Contrast the liberal media’s coverage of this shooting with the coverage of the shooting of Congressman Giffords, which we were told was the fault of conservative rhetoric (and the shooter there wasn’t even a conservative!)—see, e.g.,

See also others’ coverage of and comments on these events:

Mark Steyn, Kathy Shaidle, and the Phantom (warning, language)

National Review editorial:

That the SPLC cannot distinguish between a traditional-family organization and the guys in the white sheets and swastika armbands says a great deal about that organization’s intellectual depth . . . .

Charles Cooke at National Review Online (link in original):

As was noted on the Corner yesterday, the SPLC’s research director, Heidi Beirich, has directly compared the Aryan Nation to the Family Research Council, because “[anti-gay] groups perpetrate hate — just like those [racist] organizations do.”

— Wintery Knight:

— Hot Air:

— Via Hot Air, Gabriel Malor at the New York Post remarked last month,

The media’s habitual blaming of the political right is endemic and incurable. Media figures sincerely believe the right wing is violent, so naturally assume that violent people must be right-wing. This won’t be the last time they make that mistake.

He describes a number of examples.

Dénouement on the hero of the day, Leo Johnson:

GLENN: . . . Our best to the Family Research Council and everybody. How is everybody doing there?

GENERAL BOYKIN: They are doing well. Leo is an extraordinary hero and he’s doing quite well. I was with him when he came out of surgery; and the people at FRC are tough warriors, Glenn.

22 Responses to “Attempted Mass Murder at Family Research Council HQ”

  1. Snoodickle Says:

    I agree with Erickson that no one can be blamed for the actions of a crazy person but the person himself, but I would also point out the following: You, and the right in general, insist on calling our ideological differences a “culture war.” What exactly do you think happens during wars?


    • As a number of conservatives have remarked, both after the Congressman Giffords shooting and after this one, martial metaphors are both ubiquitous (on both sides) and of long pedigree—e.g., Charles Cooke in the piece linked above:

      But martial language and imagery are mainstays of American politics and have been for over two centuries. Think of the words routinely used to describe the current presidential race. The candidates “launch attacks,” “demolish arguments,” and “unleash broadsides.” They “campaign.” In his 2012 State of the Union, Obama went as far as to say that Americans should be more like Navy SEALS, “marching into battle” and ready to “rise and fall as one unit.”

      Do you disagree?

      • Snoodickle Says:

        No, but I asked you once to concede that a political debate is not actually a “war” and your response was something to the effect that the “culture war” is in fact a real war. If it is a real war, don’t act surprised when people get killed. If not, you should admit as much.


      • “No”

        Then you seem to have conceded the point.

        “, but I asked you once to concede that a political debate is not actually a ‘war’ and your response was something to the effect that the ‘culture war’ is in fact a real war. If it is a real war, don’t act surprised when people get killed. If not, you should admit as much.”

        “something to the effect that”—meaning that this is not what I said? If you want to re-open some conversation we had months or years ago, you’ll have to show me exactly what I said, and you’ll have to define “real war”. If you’re trying to ask me some weird “gotcha” question about what I believe now, you’ll have to define “real war”. If all you’re reporting is that there was once another conversation in which you were as confused as you were in your initial comment here (“You, and the right in general, insist on . . .”), then I take it no further response from me is necessary.

      • Snoodickle Says:

        I believe your exact quote was “It’s war.” When I asked you to clarify, you basically stated that it was a real war, not a metaphorical one. Either that, or you didn’t respond.

      • clearly foggy Says:

        Wait, your clarification is that you “believe” he said “It’s war”, and he “basically” either said that it was a real war or didn’t respond at all? Really? I think Chillingworth wins this one.

      • Snoodickle Says:

        I have faith that Chillingworth, dutiful administrator that he is, will find the quote in his archives. For reference, the quote is “It’s war,” and the context, I believe, was gay marriage.

        P.S. Who are you sir, and what exactly did you just add to this conversation?


      • Since you insist, yes, just this once, I will give you the link. For the record, you could have found it yourself.

        The good news is that after Snoodickle was able to remember the quote “it’s war”, I was able to find the conversation he was remembering:

        https://enjoymentandcontemplation.wordpress.com/2011/04/01/the-baroque-period-of-official-multiculturalism/#comment-422

        The bad news is that it doesn’t make him look any better!

      • Snoodickle Says:

        Now that we have found the quote and I have been proven correct, I ask you again – Do you retract your assertion that a cultural debate is “war,” and that one of the sides needs to be wiped out? And if not, do you acknowledge that wars and the wiping out of people involves killing, and that you therefore tacitly approve of the actions taken by crazy person you have denounced in this post?

      • Snoodickle Says:

        P.S. Did you really expect me to find a comment from April 1, 2011? And did you really think that you could reach me at larryking@cnn.com? (For those that don’t know, the latter question refers to the time that Chillingworth lied and tried to say that he didn’t have my and another of our classmate’s real email addresses, and then intimated that he actually attempted to reach me at the email address larryking@cnn.com. Why I bring this up I have no idea, but it seemed relevant to the intentional misremembering that seemed to be going on before I pointed out the exact quote and context of the war comment.)

      • Snoodickle Says:

        http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/29/bright-lights-small-tent-at-homocon-2012/?hp

        Homocon? Priceless. As I’ve told you before (see link), brace yourself.


  2. Formal-enough definitions of the term “hate group” from the director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, interviewed on NPR’s Talk of the Nation:

    “So for instance, our definition of a hate group for our center deals with groups that promote some or all of the following: bigotry, violence or an undermining of the institution, the institutions and processes of our domestic society and democracy.

    So that’s how we would list a hate group, also one that maybe promotes conspiracy theories. Southern Poverty Law Center, similarly, has a definition like that, although not – criminality is not a part of the definition. So a group can be listed by us or the Southern Poverty Law Center, for instance, and not be engaged in criminality, but they might be engaged in promoting bigotry and violence without actually orchestrating it themselves.”

    And a link:
    http://www.npr.org/2012/08/14/158778047/the-anatomy-of-a-hate-group

    It occurred to me as I was listening to this a couple weeks ago that they’ve really just redefined dissent from their own views and values as hate. On the other hand, don’t some argue that the agenda of the pro-homosexuality groups in some sense undermines some institutions and processes of our domestic society? Their words only work if we are willing to assume their opinions are the only moral options. The hate-group rhetoric comes from one side of a cultural divide, and is directed at the other side. I agree that it de-legitimizes dissent.

    • Snoodickle Says:

      If your goal is to have your stance on gay marriage win out in the court of public opinion, shouldn’t you be encouraging the left to haphazardly throw around terms like “hate group.” If, as you claim, calling a group such as the FRC a “hate group” is not a legitimate description of the group’s mission, but rather is a method entirely underserving of any place in the sphere of healthy public discourse, then the groups that employ such tactics are undermining their own message by doing so. In my opinion, the only reason that anti-marriage equality groups abhor being called “hate groups” is because there is truth to the assertion.

  3. rkeefe57 Says:

    “Formal-enough definitions of the term “hate group” from the director of the Center for the Study of Hate…”

    Couple of quick points. There is no legal definition for “hate group,” which is why even the FBI does not, cannot, designate “hate groups,” but somehow a private fundraising group like the SPLC can?

    The SPLC uses the deliberately subjective term “hate group” to agitate its mostly elderly donor base by dehumanizing those groups it disagrees with, without having to accuse them of any actual crimes.

    The SPLC has no more authority, legal or moral, to designate “hate groups” than does the SPCA. “Hate group” is not a legal term… it’s a marketing ploy.

    “Formal-enough” is not good enough to deny people their legal rights no matter how odious some people find their beliefs. Once you start doing that it’s just a matter of time before YOUR group becomes a “hate group” on somebody’s list.

    Until these people actually break the law they’re not actually breaking any laws.

    Second, Brian Levin’s “Center for the Study of Hate” is a one-man band. There is no staff there for the “Director” to direct. The “Center” has no budget, produces no peer-reviewed studies (what few papers it has produced have been authored by “B. Levin), the “Center’s” phone number goes to Levin’s desk and its only e-mail address goes to Levin’s free AOL account.

    This is NOT how real academic research centers operate.

    To his credit, Mr. Levin is generally more even-handed than his mentors at the SPLC, his work on the plight of the homeless is truly commendable, and unlike the SPLC, Mr. Levin’s “center” is not a money making operation. Mr. Levin has the goods. He doesn’t NEED this letterhead “center” to establish credibility.

    Mr. Levin… tear up this paper “center”

    http://wp.me/pCLYZ-J


  4. […] agree.  I have been concerned for some time (see, e.g., here, here, and here) about poisonous attempts to silence one’s opponents or delegitimize dissent.  […]


  5. […] or otherwise beyond the pale.  (I discuss this dynamic a little more here and here.)  Demonstrating that it’s never too early, too late, or in too bad taste to call […]


  6. […] “Attempted Mass Murder at Family Research Council HQ” […]


  7. […] That said, of course most people will say they want to change the definition of marriage, when the culture (including but not limited to the entertainment media) tells them over and over again that anyone who thinks otherwise must be a bigot or motivated by irrational fear or hatred. […]


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