August 28th, 2015

Mere words

Now we know what the Virginia killer alleged were the racist words that had supposedly been uttered three years earlier by Alison Parker, whom he decided to finally murder:

The 24-year-old white reporter, who was murdered on live TV along with her cameraman, used the phrases as an intern at ­WDBJ TV in Roanoke in 2012, according to an internal complaint filed by Flanagan, who was black.

“One was something about ‘swinging’ by some place; the other was out in the ‘field,’ ” said the Jan. 21 report by assistant news director Greg Baldwin, which refers to Parker as Alison Bailey (her middle name).

Parker was never disciplined over the remarks, but Flanagan never forgot them.

On this and other blogs on the right, you know how we sometimes joke about the fact that during the Obama era every other word seems to have drawn an accusation of “racist!!”? (I’ve written posts on the subject, such as for example this one back in 2008 where I talk about allegations that “socialist” is just a code word for “black.”) The left has been overreacting—and encouraging people to overreact like this—for years, even before Obama became became president but even more during his candidacy and presidency. It got to the point where literally any criticism of Obama was racist by definition.

So although Flanagan’s allegations read like a Saturday Night Live script or something out of The Onion, they were not. His starting point was the program set by the left in their definition of what’s racist, and in his anger and paranoia he took it many steps further. “Swing,” “field,” racism? No wonder he was making accusations of racism virtually everywhere he went. No wonder he felt angrier and angrier, if he had defined provocation down to that extent.

So, was Flanagan “crazy”? I haven’t a clue, really, but it doesn’t sound it to me. He was angry and paranoid (although there’s no evidence that he was a paranoid schizophrenic), and certainly violent at the end. Would treatment have helped him? Again, I haven’t a clue, but my guess would be “no.” And although everybody knew that he was the first two (angry and paranoid), and he had threatened people in various ways, I don’t think it was fully appreciated that he would become murderously violent. But even had it been foreseen, what could anyone have done? The rules for civil commitment in Virginia don’t seem to cover a case such as his, and in any event the police who witnessed what was previously his worst outburst (years prior to the murders) didn’t seem to think further action was needed.

People can rail all they like about how this guy was an explosion waiting to happen, and it’s obviously true. But that doesn’t mean there’s a solution. You can’t lock him up when he hasn’t committed a crime and is merely weird and angry rather than obviously crazy.

As I wrote yesterday, I think that people at the station who had been threatened should have taken out a restraining order against him, and that should (if still active) have kept him from the legal purchase of a gun for the duration of the protective order (although in Virgina it seems it wouldn’t have, because non-domestic restraining orders don’t seem to be covered). However (and it’s a big “however”), even all of that, if working smoothly, wouldn’t have kept him from getting an illegal gun or from using a different sort of weapon to hurt or kill, and any restraining order would have expired and needed to be renewed indefinitely to be effective. Restraining orders are a very weak tool, and I don’t know that we have another one.

[NOTE: The story of the victim who lived, Vicki Gardner, here:

“Then he shot three times at my wife, and she was trying to dodge everything,” Tim Gardner said, recalling what his wife told him. “He missed twice, and then she dove to the ground and curled up in a ball, and that’s when he shot her in the back.”

Vicki Gardner was unlucky, and then she was very very lucky. Unlucky to be there in the first place. Lucky that Flanagan missed twice (I heard on some news station that she was purposely ducking and moving around in order to avoid being shot in the head, where he was aiming), and then lucky that the shot in the back was no worse than it was.]

[ADDENDUM: Much more here, from Ace.]

22 Responses to “Mere words”

  1. Oldflyer Says:

    This seems to be one of those cases where our societal structure hits the wall of personal liberty. The jails, asylums, or whatever is available, would be overflowing if everyone who was prone to public rants were committed. Not to mention that the courts would be even more clogged than now with litigation. It is a conundrum.

    On the other hand, if specific threats of violence are made against individuals, or groups, sufficient action to nullify the threat is in order.

    As you say Neo; the type of weapon used here is essentially irrelevant. Once he committed to killing, a knife, an axe, a baseball bat, or a golf club would have sufficed. That fact does not fit the political template, however.

    I have long felt that our society has become dangerously inured to violence by our entertainment media. Lives are often portrayed as very cheap; and troubled minds may tend to accept that. I happened to catch an O’Reilly segment last night (which I do infrequently of late) in which he debated with a Psycho-therapist, who was clearly atheistic, about a nexus between the general loss of spirituality (of all types) in society and the increase in random murders. She wasn’t buying; but, he was not backing off either.

  2. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “The left has been overreacting—and encouraging people to overreact like this—for years, even before Obama became president but even more during his candidacy and presidency.”

    There’s a lot of blood upon their hands and there will be far more before they’re done. “Micro-aggressions”, racist ‘code words’, the rise in antisemitism, the crucifixion of the police… all may be laid at their feet. The 21st century is likely to be so bloody as to make the previous 20th century’s gore, pale in comparison.

    And that doesn’t even count the abortions.

  3. neo-neocon Says:


    Do you have statistics to indicate that there actually has been an increase in “random murders”? I’m not at all sure that’s the case. We certainly hear more about them, though. And of course, with video and social media and the internet, we see footage of them much more.

  4. AMartel Says:

    I saw a report where Mrs. Gardener’s husband said that she told him the shooter stood over her and shot her. That could be purposeful, not just unfortunately being in the line of fire. Was she also gunned down because she was an object of hatred?

    In addition, the shooter murdered the camera man. No word on whether the camera man supposedly said racist things. Was he also gunned down because he was an object of hatred?

    So that’s two people shot down with no specific racial excuse.

    In addition, the shooter’s presumption that regular words uttered by the female reporter (swinging by, field, etc.) had racist substance show he was fully influenced by the left’s fascist appropriation of language and meaning to suit political purposes.

    The left is super quick to accuse the right of vile and violent racist paranoia. As usual, this is projection on their part. Far more vile and violent racists reside on the left which openly nurtures their rage, resentment and paranoia for political gain. For every misbegotten Dylann Roof there are hundreds of raging lefties.

  5. AMartel Says:

    Also, portions of the shooter’s “manifesto” are being withheld, unaccountably, by ABC News (not the police), so we still don’t know the whole story on this POS.

  6. neo-neocon Says:


    There is little question that Gardner was intentionally shot. The only question is whether she was shot merely because she was present (and, I suppose, because she was present and white) or whether the shooter had some beef, or some imagined beef, with her too.

    My guess is that he had no particular knowledge of her or quarrel with her except that she was there and she was white. He didn’t try to kill her because she was a witness and could identify him, because he indentified himself to the world via the internet.

  7. Ray Says:

    Years ago I read a book on the psychological origins of political correctness. The author pointed out that the PC believe that they are the victims of oppression or persecution. People that believe they are being oppressed or persecuted are typically called paranoid. The left encourages paranoid thinking by telling people they are victims of, for example, the evil white male patriarchy. When people claim to be victims what they are implicitly claiming is that they are unable to cope with and overcome adversity. They are admitting that they are hapless, even helpless losers. I wouldn’t be so eager to admit that.

  8. Sarah Relyea Says:

    According to today’s NYT, the killer wrote of having slain his pet cats after losing a job in 2013: “So angry one day after what he called ‘an awful chain of events,’ he writes that he killed his two cats and drove to a forest, where he dug a grave and covered the bodies with leaves and a flower.” Predictably enough, the NYT reporter moves on without further comment; but a man who kills small animals (his own pets!) is deeply disturbed and dangerous.

  9. Mark30339 Says:

    Neo, I follow the plausible logic, but this case isn’t one crying out for all sides to tone down their relentless agitations on perceived race bias and perceived race privilege. I categorize this tragedy as “disregarded impotent guy getting his moment of infamous potency.” If society’s race sensitivities had not been in vogue, he would have found some other prominent rationalization for erupting from his misery in murder/suicide. Had people in his circle intervened on his isolation and stopped his downward spiral into madness, maybe then this tragedy never happens — but that’s a tall order.

  10. AMartel Says:

    But isn’t that how you would describe Dylann Roof (Charleston), Jared Loughner (Tucson), James Holmes (Colorado), Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris (Columbine), Anders Brievik (Norway), the recent cop killers (why do we not know them by name?), and every single loser Islamist killer ever? Disregarded impotent guy getting his moment of infamous potency? But when we hear about the loser impotent white killers we hear their names and that they were motivated by racial or some other hatred. Shame! (Which doesn’t seem to have slowed any of them down, BTW.) Why tone it down for this disregarded impotent guy? How do you know that if society’s race sensitivities had not been in vogue he would have found some other rationalization for killing?

    And actually, the racial angle IS toned down on this one, at least in the media, because it’s not convenient to the MSM narrative that only whites can be vile racist killers. Also, to redirect topical outrage to guns. Only problem is that if you consider the unreasoning racial rage that had built up in this man, for years, he was going to kill some white people regardless of methodology. Lack of gun availability seems a very unlikely stopper. Maybe we should be grateful it was only a gun and not a bomb.

  11. Fred Says:

    “he was the victim of long-standing racism, sexual harassment, and discrimination due to his status as a gay black man. He also said that God told him to commit the shooting, and expressed his admiration of other mass shooters, including the perpetrators of the Columbine school shooting.”

  12. Sgt. Mom Says:

    Not certain what all to add to the above — especially what AMartel said. He must have been a totally horrible person to work with. Through being a military broadcaster, I have had a filtered taste of what it is like to be working TV news. It is such a collaborative team effort – you need to trust each other, you need absolutely to work as a team … and he was just this awful, disruptive, prickly obstacle. His resume should have been a warning sign to every employer — and perhaps it was. Hopscotching through all these local news markets, never remaining very long … He must have looked like gold, on first glance to every TV station’s HR department.

    It’s sad, really. He just was not all that good at TV news, could not endure working in close cooperation with people — any people, and I think likely either black or white.

    Two years and more, simmering about where he was fired from; not certain what the station could have done about that.

  13. charles Says:

    Sgt. Mom: “His resume should have been a warning sign to every employer”

    Perhaps, most hiring managers did not look beyond his race? If so, it wouldn’t be the first time that race was THE deciding factor in hiring someone.

    And he may have “festered” for two years precisely because no one else would hire him after that. I don’t know – I haven’t read enough about him to know if he was hired elsewhere or not; and I’m not about to waste any of my time to find out more about him.

    It is such a shame because he clearly needed help, and didn’t seek it out (and as Neo says, it may or may not have helped), so now two people have had their lives ended. Two more people are now a widow and widower before they even got to marry. Another woman has had her life turned upside down. And those families will never be the same; not to mention the rest of their co-workers.

    So much of this news story reminds me a bit of the LIRR shooter, Colin Ferguson. He, too, gunned down white people simply because they were white (although, unlike this case Colin didn’t know his victims). He ranted against white people all the time according to folks who knew him. Yet the MSM treated his bigotry as an example of his craziness, not something that was influenced by others.

    In fact, Sharpton and the like were more concerned with Colin’s shooting making all black folks look bad – thanks for your concern Al!

    This is why I suspect the MSM plays down black racist violence; they think only white folks react badly to racist attacks. But, they don’t seem to see that always portraying whites, especially cops, as racists has a huge impact on some folks. And it DOES lead to more violence; even if it only giving an excuse to the thugs.

  14. Amartel Says:

    At least in Cali, an employer can be sued for a referral regarding a former employee. By the employee for a bad referral (when the employee feels s/he deserves a good referral) or by an employer and third parties for a good referral of a bad employee. No win situation for the former employer so most businesses just acknowledge the employment and dates of employment.

  15. parker Says:

    It seems to me Flanagan lived many years in emotional turmoil. The vast majority of blacks view male homosexuals as beyond the pale, so in his orginal identity group he was a pariah. I think he sought acceptance from liberal whites simply because he was a homosexual black male. When liberal whites did not give him the respect he desired, but judged him on his performance, his fragile ego was destroyed.

    Poor, poor, pitiful me.

  16. Liberty Wolf Says:

    I think you are right that Flanagan was not legally insane and could not have been committed. Or even schizophrenic from what we know. Though I did read that he also thought Jehovah told him to commit the murders? But it seems, from most of what I’ve read, that he probably had a personality disorder and not psychosis. Would you agree that a personality disorder is there Neo? Of course, if it is, that is not the case for locking someone up.

    Maybe a restraining order would have been a good idea, as you state. But even that is not foolproof and yes, needs renewal.

    What is remarkable also is how he came back to do this after two years! He kept this resentment burning for two years. He did have that lawsuit and it failed last year so really after that, he must have made this decision.

    He was obviously unstable if not nuts. But yes, finally the LEFT with its emphasis on micro-agressions and finding racism in every little remark, to an extreme… is at fault. I see this mindset all the time in people I know. White people too, blaming other white people of racism based on innocuous remarks like “swing by” or “out in the field”. It is absolutely insane. I see huge battles fought online in these left circles about these “code words”, it is called “calling out”. Most of them, of course, are not murderous people, but for the unstable ones…

    Tonight, a deputy was killed. I believe the murderer was black. He was executed in cold blood. I really don’t have a good feeling about this violence we are witnessing springing up.

  17. Liberty Wolf Says:

    Oh, let me amend what I said above a bit… the left is not really “at fault” since I believe in individual responsibility for actions taken. However, the left, the far left — are definitely at fault for creating these wacky ideas about racist code words and for seeing racism under every nook and cranny. I see it all the time in my world online, on FB say — and sometimes when I talk to these folks in person (though I talk to them less and less even on FB). That odious worldview which is striken with paranoia from its foundation, certainly had an influence here.

  18. Amartel Says:

    If Obama had a son he’d look, and think, a lot like Vester the Protester.

  19. rickl Says:

    Yesterday Instapundit linked this post asking why the full manifesto has not been released, causing numerous commenters to speculate that it might be filled with leftist ranting.

    Since to my knowledge he was never diagnosed or treated for mental illness, I think we are just assuming that he was mentally ill.

    What if he did not have a clinical mental illness, but his head was filled with toxic sludge from the Left? We know that bad ideas can cause people to kill without remorse, believing that they are doing what is right and necessary. Look at the 20th century for about 100 million examples.

    The frightening thought for me is that there are far, far more people in America who have been thoroughly brainwashed by the Left than there are schizophrenics.

  20. Ymarsakar Says:

    Would you agree that a personality disorder is there Neo? Of course, if it is, that is not the case for locking someone up.

    It’s the combination of weakness and being indoctrinated by the Left. If a person that is suicidal and angry goes into a cult, you might want to do something about that before something happens.

    But if a person is weak, suicidal, or angry, that alone isn’t enough. Because that alone isn’t enough motivation for extreme acts. Combine Leftist indoctrination and you get many good results war wise. Even the Islamic Jihad knows how to program suicide bombers when they lack volunteers.

  21. Ymarsakar Says:

    The frightening thought for me is that there are far, far more people in America who have been thoroughly brainwashed by the Left than there are schizophrenics.

    They are waiting for the Trigger. Whether people call it brainwashing, mind control, Neuro Linguistic Programming, hypnosis, or ideological fanaticism, doesn’t really matter in the end.

    Results are what matters. Death squads produce results so they matter.

    When the Left are given their Orders by their Authority, nothing will stop them short of results, that is. No amount of mercy, no amount of pleading, no amount of bullsh bipartisan American let’s get along syndrome, will be enough. They will Obey their Orders.

  22. Ymarsakar Says:

    When people claim to be victims what they are implicitly claiming is that they are unable to cope with and overcome adversity. They are admitting that they are hapless, even helpless losers. I wouldn’t be so eager to admit that.

    If it was a social loss like that, then few people would want that status. However victim status provides them a power that they can abuse. People make way for victims, they silence themselves in favor of the victims. It’s a power victims have over society, and they like that power precisely because they are weak and helpless.

    The Left gets them into the cult with that lure.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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