We had a “Parent Night” at my school last night, so I haven’t had too much time to read about the Discovery Channel Hostage Situation… but the short of it is that James Jay Lee went to Discovery Channel headquarters, took hostages, and was shot and killed by a police sniper after he appeared to take aim at a hostage. The hostages are safe and the crisis is thankfully over.
He had a list of strange demands for Discovery, and they’re now circulating the web.
Lee was also an atheist. I’m sure it won’t be long before certain groups latch onto that fact as if it’s his defining characteristic and what prompted him to act this way.
My friend Shelley Mountjoy works with a number of atheist groups based in Washington, D.C. and she had met Lee (albeit briefly) before.
In one of my first conversations with Lee, he informed me that he moved to the DC area to be involved in political activism… that this was where everything was supposed to be happening and he was disappointed that more was not going on. He certainly did not hide the fact that he thought he could save the world but he never made any statements about breaking the law or using violence to obtain his objectives.
In short, he said he was staying here until he ran out of money — probably this year. (He was not employed.) I was suspicious that he was planning to commit suicide when that time came.
… As I read the media reports now, many of the pieces are coming together and I’m now realizing that today’s events were Lee’s plan for quite some time. I also went back and searched my e-mail and I noticed he used the name “Mister Guerilla” on his account… I hadn’t paid any attention to this earlier.
Shelley will write more today, but I think she perfectly sums up my initial thoughts after hearing about this story:
Atheism is only a statement about one thing — a lack of belief in god. It says nothing about what else you may or may not believe or how you came to lack belief. Some people do not come to atheism through critical thinking and other times those who do, fail to apply critical thinking to aspects of their life outside of religion.
The atheists aren’t to blame. Lee alone is to blame. And good riddance now that he’s gone.
One of the main reasons many of our groups exist is to provide safe havens for atheists who have nowhere else to go. Even if Lee was loosely associated with these groups, there’s no reason to think that any of the members condone his actions.