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Discovery Channel Hostage Standoff Ends In Shooting

Submitted by on September 2, 2010 – 3:52 pm6 Comments

Another not-so-random act of violence has occurred in the name of a worthy cause. All the drama took place at the Discovery Channel headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland yesterday afternoon. The suspect, James Lee, made several previous threats to the company but had never been taken seriously. Past incidents—including an ineffective protest—had gotten Lee charged with disorderly conduct. He was required to remain 500 feet away from the building in 2008. That order expired August 18. Resolved to take more drastic measures to get his point across. Lee, armed with a gun and a backpack of makeshift explosives, took three hostages in the Discovery Channel building.

When Lee arrived, there were close to 1900 employees inside, including young children who were in the daycare housed there. The children were moved to a nearby McDonald’s soon after the 911 call was made and the building was evacuated. Lee did not physically harm the hostages, only making them lie down on the floor of the building as he communicated with police. He expressed his grievances in a manifesto posted on the Internet, he refers to people as “filth.”

“…stop encouraging the birth of any more parasitic human infants.”

Later in the document, he says “humans are the most destructive, filthy, pollutive [sic] creatures around and are wrecking what’s left of the planet with their false morals and breeding culture.”

Lee demanded the channel create shows devoted to developing thoughts and solutions to the world’s problems, adding that because the media has so much power, it is the responsibility of those who work in media to change the current state of affairs with programming. It is unclear why he went after the Discovery Channel alone when his grievances seem aimed toward the broader television industry.

As Lee continued to communicate his grievances with the network to police negotiators, one of the hostages began to move. Lee aimed his gun at the hostage, and was shot and killed by a sniper. No hostages were hurt, but law enforcement says the building has been cleared of any explosives.

Many thoughts and questions arrive from the happenings at One Discovery Place. We should all realize that any threats made these days should be taken very seriously. We can only wonder if things may have been prevented had Lee’s manifesto been common knowledge within the building.

Next is an age-old question. How effective are people who do immoral things for morality’s sake? This phenomenon occurs a great deal domestically and worldwide, with anti-abortionists killing doctors who perform abortions or bombing abortion clinics, etc. Credibility is lost when one protests the immorality of the human race and proceeds to act immorally himself.

We must ask if James Lee had a point about the degeneration of society. Look around—the world is certainly not what it used to be. One doesn’t have to be a tree hugger to realize the earth’s resources are finite, and if we are not finding ways to create sustainable lifestyles to reduce the damage we do to our Earth, we’ll pay dearly in the future.

Lee’s actions should never be condoned; he seemed to care more about the environment than about human life. However, the biggest tragedy is that it may take a much larger incident or catastrophe for us to make much needed environmental changes for the better.

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