Before you say ‘I told you so’…

Over at Slate, Dave Weigel has some words of caution for anyone looking to make too strong a connection between yesterday’s Discovery Channel hostage-taker, James Lee, and any particular political movement. In a post titled “This Crazy Man With A Gun Proves That Political Point I Was Making!,” he notes that these types of stories inevitably go through three stages:

1) Investigation. Who is this guy? Right and left partisans immediately worry that it’s one of their team (defined loosely — a white liberal might worry that it’s a Muslim radical who’ll prove Frank Gaffney right).

2) Revelation. The identity of the perp is discovered — in this case, we find that it’s an anti-human population activist. Everyone pretends that their previous theories about what might be happening were never really serious.

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3) Polarization. The people whose ideology most matches the perp cry loudly that he is crazy and has nothing to do with them. The people whose ideology is antithetical to the perp’s — in this case, conservative skeptics of environmentalism — subtly hint that the perp is too representative of the other team. Oh, sure, they’re not saying that. But every time someone goes crazy on the other side, they get blamedso it’s only fair.

It’s funny because it’s true — every. single. time. Remember the backlash against the pro-life movement after the George Tiller murder? Anyone tempted to lump all environmentalists in with Lee might do well to consider that first.

Make no mistake: There is absolutely a movement in some environmentalist groups that supports contraception, sterilization, and abortion as effective “population control” measures. The position is almost the more insidious for being held by otherwise rational people who don’t consider the human race “parasites” or follow the teachings of a telepathic gorilla. Let’s engage that debate, and leave the crazy people of the world out of it.

  • Margaret Cabaniss

    Margaret Cabaniss is the former managing editor of Crisis Magazine. She joined Crisis in 2002 after graduating from the University of the South with a degree in English Literature and currently lives in Baltimore, Maryland. She now blogs at

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