Police charged Floyd Lee Corkins II, 28, with assault with a deadly weapon on Wednesday after he allegedly walked into the Washington, D.C., lobby of the conservative Family Research Council (FRC) and, when confronted, shot a security guard in the arm. The local police and FBI are trying to discern Corkins' motive to see if federal hate crime, domestic terrorism, or other charges apply. But the commentariat, especially on the Right, has decided that the shooter was driven to violence by his opposition to the FRC's outspokenness against homosexuality and gay marriage: Corkins was reportedly carrying promotional materials for anti-gay-marriage touchstone Chick-fil-A with him, volunteered at a D.C. center for gays and lesbians, and reportedly said in the FRC lobby that his assault was about the group's "values." Even as dozens of LGBT groups jointly denounced the attack, conservatives were vengefully "gathering behind two narratives," says David Sessions at The Daily Beast: "That the media was ignoring the shooting, and that liberal groups that have called FRC a 'hate group' were somehow responsible for the violence." Should the Left have to answer for the FRC shooting?
By the standards of the "culture war," the Left is guilty: "Nobody knows what thoughts were swirling through the suspect's head," says W. James Antle III at The Daily Caller. But it's a fact that the Southern Poverty Law Center and Human Rights Campaign have smeared the FRC as a "hate group," and when you name targets in a "culture war" against gay rights, "should we be surprised to see violence?" We should all agree that "disagreement isn't a hate crime," but by liberals' own standards, the FRC shooting is.
"Who's a hate group now?"
Conservatives are milking this too hard: "For the record, the shooting attack at the Family Research Council is awful, and I totally condemn it without reservation," says Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs, but that doesn't mean criticism of the group is invalid, as anti-gay groups are shamelessly asserting. "The Family Research Council is, and remains, a far right hate group, trafficking in bigotry and religious fanaticism in order to deprive gay people of human rights."
"President of NOM... demands free pass on hate"
The shooter is the one to blame for a possible hate crime: It's up to the police and FBI to decide whether to charge Corkins with a hate crime, but "they would be well within their rights to," says Adam Dawson at WNYC. If the reports are right, he walked into the FRC office and "tried to kill people based solely on the religious beliefs of those who worked there, and that is absolutely a hate crime." The thing is, the FRC opposes hate crime laws, calling them "thought crime laws" and a violation of the First Amendment. We'll see if this changes their minds.
"Hey Family Research Council, hate crime laws are for Christians, too"