Thankfully, Leo Johnson, a victim of the shooting this past week at Family Research Council in Washington D.C. seems to be making a full recovery. His heroism prevented what might have been an even more frightening act of violence at FRC.
The shooter Floyd Lee Corkins II had the “evil intent to kill people who worked for this public interest organization precisely because they believe that marriage is between a man and a woman and have dedicated their lives to defending the family”( Catholic Online). While certainly Corkins is to blame for this serious criminal act, many commentators have noted that this act of extremism and others like it may have been spurred on by a certain public interest group’s inclusion of FRC on a list of “hate groups.” FRC it is committed to the defense of marriage as only between one man and one woman; thus because it specifically opposes gay marriage, it has been labeled a hate group.
Obviously in the process of public discourse, disagreements between political parties, activist groups, and individuals spark heated dialogue. We discredit opponents and ourselves when any organization jumps to label another as a hate group. One of our basic American liberties is the right to free speech; but with this right comes the responsibility to use this liberty wisely.
Dana Milbank’s of the Washington Post writes this of the FRC shooting: “… this shooting should remind us all of an important truth… there are unbalanced and potentially violent people of all political persuasions. The rest of us need to be careful about hurling accusations that can stir up the crazies.”
Read A.W.R. Hawkins’ article on hate speech from Summer 2012 Salvo here.