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The Conservatives
Made Me Do It

The Conservatives
Made Me Do It


Right-wing rhetoric may have inspired one man to violence in Tennessee. Thanks, Ann Coulter!

Jim David Adkisson and I may share two names, but I'm fairly certain he's not a gay Sondheim fanatic distressed about the state of the American musical. That other Jim David is a 58-year-old man who entered the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville on July 27 and opened fire on a group of parishioners watching a performance of the children's musical Annie Jr. He killed two people and wounded six others. I confess to wanting to open fire during a road company production of Mamma Mia! But I didn't do it.

Adkisson attacked the church, according to Knoxville police, "because of its liberal teachings and his belief that all liberals should be killed because they were ruining the country." He was motivated by his hatred of "liberals in general as well as gays."

If there were Taliban meetings in Knoxville, perhaps Adkisson would have sat in a circle and shared his frustrations with like-minded wackos. Instead, he found like-minded wackos at the bookstore. In his home police found copies of Liberalism Is a Mental Disorder by Michael Savage, Let Freedom Ring by Sean Hannity, and The O'Reilly Factor by Bill O'Reilly. Thank God they didn't find gay porn.

America is filled with nuts who commit insane acts for whatever reason. But Adkisson -- who, I'm guessing, doesn't personally know many liberals or gays -- could not have acted in a vacuum. An unemployed hick with too much free time, he read right-wingers who regularly rage against liberals for a living. These goons don't inform or enlighten; they just make you tear your hair out. I've listened to them and read their books, and they make me want to kill liberals and gays -- until I remember that I am liberal and gay.

They use violent rhetoric against liberals, earn millions, and call it "entertainment." In one of her speeches at a conservative conference, Ann Coulter said, "We need to execute people like [American Taliban] John Walker [Lindh] in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed too." She also "joked" that the best way to talk to liberals would be with baseball bats. Michael Savage told a caller to his former MSNBC television show, "Get AIDS and die, you pig." Commentator Dick Morris, on a break from sucking prostitutes' toes, wrote a book that labeled liberals as "traitors" who should be decapitated. When the public cries foul, they backtrack with "Just kidding."

Conservatives are the first to attack liberal Hollywood for poisoning the culture -- they blamed the Columbine massacre on the 1995 film The Basketball Diaries and a slew of murders on Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers. They charge rappers Ludicris and Eminem with spawning urban violence. Bill O'Reilly begins nearly every program with a rant against the "far left," which he routinely compares to the Nazis. (Of course, if you flip through the oeuvre of any conservative commentator, you're bound to find Nazi comparisons. For the last time, people -- no one is like the freaking Nazis, except the Nazis. And Bill O'Reilly.)

Now the shoe is on the other foot, but don't expect the right-wing pundits to acknowledge any complicity. While it's possible that this mental case lifted his very rationale from the pages of their books and that their rhetoric encouraged his violence, he'll be the one called a "fanatic." The pundits remain "conservatives."

Whatever the right wing would like us to believe about the evils of popular art, the truth is, conservatives are more prone to resort to violence than liberals. Liberals never bomb abortion clinics, bash gays, or drag blacks behind trucks. We're too busy partying.

We're grateful to the good people of the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church for their decades of work on desegregation, racial harmony, fair wages, women's rights, and gay rights and for providing a gathering place for gay youths. It was, sadly, only a matter of time before some twisted maniac, egged on by toxic right-wing blather, objected.

It's enough to make you want to bomb Fox News. Just kidding.

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