Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The shooter at the Family Research Council

A man named Floyd Lee Corkins II was arrested for showing up with a gun last week at the Washington office of the far-right Family Research Council (FRC) and wounding a security guard with a handgun. Peter Hermann and Keith L. Alexander reported for the Washington Post in Floyd Lee Corkins charged in Family Research Council shooting 08/16/2012.

As in all these cases, initial reports can and often are misleading or mistaken in some notable fact claimed in the case. And so far as I'm aware, the FBI and prosecutors have not yet released any details on their theory of his motivation. From the Post report:

The man authorities say was angry with the conservative stance of the Family Research Council and shot the group’s unarmed security guard in a downtown D.C. office was ordered by a judge Thursday to undergo a mental evaluation.

An FBI affidavit quotes 28-year-old Floyd Lee Corkins II of Herndon telling the guard, “I don’t like your politics” as he pulled a 9mm Sig Sauer pistol from a backpack he had carried with him on Metrorail from East Falls Church. ...

In his bag, court documents say, police found 50 rounds of ammunition and 15 sandwiches from Chick-fil-A, which combined with the suspect’s statement added a political dimension to the shooting.

The head of the Atlanta-based fast-food chain has spoken out against same-sex marriage, a stance embraced by the Family Research Council. Corkins had been volunteering at a U Street NW support center for the gay community. ...

No one answered the door at Corkins’s home Thursday. The FBI affidavit says agents interviewed Corkins’s parents, who said their son "has strong opinions with respect to those he believes do not treat homosexuals in a fair manner."
So it may be that finally, there is someone of left-leaning sentiments that is implicated in an attempted violent political crime, after years of attacks by far-right zealots, who are typically written off by the press as "deranged individuals" or something similar.

FOX News and the Republican echo chamber have tried to label some of these shooters lefties. But in their world, neo-Nazis count as left-wingers.

The FRC fairly quickly set about blaming the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) for provoking the shooting by having labelled them a hate group for their venomous descriptions of gays. I've never seen anything from the SPLC that even suggested they were encouraging violent attacks on the FRC or other hate groups. It's notable that the right has been especially scornful of any suggestion that far-right groups and media figures that have spent years, even decades, demonizing liberals as traitors, enemies of God, destroyers of the family, friends of terrorists, baby-killers and the like might bear any moral responsibility whatever for encouraging violent attack by far right types on targets they view as representing The Enemy.

Rachel Tabachnick of Talk to Action has done some research into the accused man's background: Shooter That Targeted FRC Attended Conservative Christian School with Anti-Gay Policy 08/19/2012. She discusses the school he attended up until he was 18 or so. She's careful in not drawing pop psychology conclusions. She doesn't provide any information about his life or group affiliations since finishing high school.

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