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Environmental debate flows from Discovery hostage crisis

Strong reader reaction to the Discovery Channel building hostage situation has devolved into a raucous right-left argument on whether liberal concerns about the environment inspire mentally disturbed people to take strange actions.

A number of readers praise the Montgomery County police for their professional handling of the situation Wednesday afternoon, but the majority of the comments this morning concern the environmental debate and worries about overpopulation that apparently drove James J. Lee to the actions that ultimately led to his death.

Such a conversation would not be complete without an attack on former Vice President Al Gore and the scientists who have warned about global warming and overpopulation. Those attacks, of course, bring responses. Meanwhile, the complex questions about how best to treat the mentally ill and protect the rest of us from those very few who become violent wait for another day. Over 1,000 comments have been filed since the situation began yesterday.

We'll start with davidmweiss1, who wrote, "World class job done by the Montgomery County Police. Everyone was returned safe except for the gunman. Real fine job."

randysbailin agreed, writing "Kudos for excellent work on the part of Montgomery County Police and other law enforcement on the scene. Once someone takes hostages, the safety of the hostages becomes the paramount concern. If that means fatally shooting the hostage taker, that's just the way it goes."

glenmayne said, "Kill your television. Who would have thought the wholesome Discovery Channel would set off a nut."

But miketodd1 wrote, "I feel the same frustration Lee does, especially the inability to do anything about global warming. I'm extremely disgusted watching all the news stories about ice sheets and glaciers melting, and our inability to change the way we live. The Republican approach to this is sickening. More and more denial about global warming. Guess they want to continue to funnel more profits to Exxon Mobil, as if gas prices aren't high enough already."

allenridge said, "....... Thanks Al Gore for creating "green nuts" like this guy. Let's take the politics out of 'being green'. It's not helping its hurting......."

biggirl90 wrote, "I knew when I clicked on the comment section that this would be a bashing of anything "liberal" and "environmentalist". How predictable."

andrew23boyle asked, "Environmental militant? [a term used in the story]... The man was a TERRORIST. Terrorism (n): the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, esp. for political purposes... That whole thing, "freedom fries" and other such drivel pale in comparison to some of the new-speak nonsense and spin we've heard from the other side recently... Quit with the PC nonsense and call him a terrorist. Or at least a "causer of man-caused disasters", if you need to be a mealy-mouthed weakling about it."

RoboFlop agreed, writing, "Congratulations on one of the most reasonable posts I've seen here. As a conservative, I reject the posts of the right-wingers who want to paint all "greeners" as terrorists. There are nut-cases on both sides of the aisle."

huntsf said, "I agree that Lee's approach was extreme...but his beliefs have some truth to them. We ARE killing our planet and those of you who deny it might just be the ones who deny reality....have fun and enjoy the consequences."

freepost wrote, "It's ironic that all of the media outlets, the Compost included have suddenly adopted "conservative" principles; that Lee the deranged individual was solely responsible for his actions. And yes, these were the actions of a sick, twisted individual who subscribed to far left views. But had this person been a bible thumper or conservative, the media would have indicted everyone from Sarah Palin to Rush Limbaugh to George Bush."

Jindokae said, "The saddest thing about is that he was basically right. Not about taking hostages, of course... Lee saw the problem but lacked the tools or mental stability to cope with it. I hope for our kids' sake that the rest of us wake up and begin to address the problem before it is too late."

druvas wrote, "This guy was clearly an enviro-wacko. But he is responsible for his actions and paid the ultimate price for them. I can't help but wonder, though, where his motivation comes from... Lee got his motivation from the militant side of the environmentalist movement. He believed he was doing "Nature's" work. It doesn't help the situation one bit when "climate scientists" manufacture data that says the Earth is dying. That sort of thing spurs the more crazy folks to do these sorts of things. The Earth is not dying. The sky is not falling..."

MidwaySailor76, said, "This isn't left vs. right - it's sane vs. insane."

To which nosocialist1 replied, "OK MidwaySailor76, then it's the sane right vs. the insane left. Right on shipmate!"

We'll close with randysbailin, who wrote, "Politicizing this event, what a shock. Most Americans close to the center of the political spectrum look at extreme left AND right wingers as wackos."

All comments on this article are here.

By Doug Feaver  |  September 2, 2010; 9:14 AM ET
Categories:  Environment  | Tags: Discovery Channel, Hostage, Mental Illness, Montgomery County, Terrorism  
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The Founders of our country knew that Free Speech was dangerous.
Free Speech undoubtedly set off crazy people back in the 18th Century.
The Founders thought inhibiting Free Speech was more dangerous than the harm caused by disturbed individuals set off by others exercisinfg free speech rights.
Both political parties seek advantage when one of the loons in our society who happen to affiliate with the other party goes off the deep end. It's best to just ignore such political posturing.
Unless the speaker is otherwise assisting the loon to accomplish his or her crazy deeds, people who speak about issues are not responsible for the actions others take.
It would be good if all sides remember this the next time it happens. It certainly will happen again.

Posted by: jfv123 | September 2, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Scientists from the alarmist camp and Scientists from the Skeptic camp need to have an open debate on Global Warming. Maybe have James Inhofe and Al Gore present also.
At this point in time what do the enviro's have to lose? Copenhagen was a disaster, The Kerry bill was a failure, Climategate destroyed public trust, and upcoming talks in Cancun don't look too promising either.

Don't tell me that the Enviro's are betting what's left of there money on the EPA? Lawsuits will slow down regulations and a House majority of Republicans can cut off funds, Not to mention that a New future President can undo all the regulations set up by the OBAMA administration.

I say the only choice left is to open up debate. So Bring on Phil Jones and Richard Lindzen, Al Gore and James Inhofe.

As far as the eco-terrorist goes. It would be too easy to pile on to Al Gore for this crazy guys actions. I personally don't believe in AGW or forced population control, but I guess some people obviously do. And you would be surprised at some of the crazy things they print over at the huffingtonpost.

Posted by: Senator_Salesman | September 2, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

John Holdren, Obama's Science Czar, says: Forced abortions and mass sterilization needed to save the planet

Forced abortions. Mass sterilization. A "Planetary Regime" with the power of life and death over American citizens.

I don't believe Al Gore is the only one inspiring these radical militant far-left environmentalists.

Posted by: fury60 | September 2, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

As for the comment by ZZim on September 2, 2010 at 1:21 PM, please try to recall that the IRS Building pilot left a "manifesto" in which he lashed out saying:

"Bush and his cronies are puppets of plutocrats"

And he also said in the manifesto:

"The communist creed: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.
The capitalist creed: From each according to his gullibility, to each according to his greed."

Joseph Stack III was a LEFT wing nut job, ZZim! He is all yours!

Posted by: TrochilusTales | September 2, 2010 2:02 PM
Blame the media for the Stack thing. The media can easily fool the feeble minds with misinformation.

Posted by: Cryos | September 2, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Interesting that the most liberal congress in history can't even hope to pass any type of global warming legislation, meanwhile, Al Gore's disciples are literally going ballistic. And yet, the earth's temperatures are still normal. Crazy world.

Posted by: luncheaterguy | September 2, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

As for the comment by ZZim on September 2, 2010 at 1:21 PM, please try to recall that the IRS Building pilot left a "manifesto" in which he lashed out saying:

"Bush and his cronies are puppets of plutocrats"

And he also said in the manifesto:

"The communist creed: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.
The capitalist creed: From each according to his gullibility, to each according to his greed."

Joseph Stack III was a LEFT wing nut job, ZZim! He is all yours!

Posted by: TrochilusTales | September 2, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Looks like while I was compiling mine, several folks jumped in!! Now you ahve a good start, Doug.

Posted by: TrochilusTales | September 2, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Huh . . . so where does that leave this column, Doug? One comment so far. Me.

The breaking WaPo story on the explosion that occurred on the oil drilling platform in the Gulf this morning said this:

"The Department of Homeland Security said the platform was in about 2,500 feet of water and owned by Mariner Energy of Houston. DHS said it was not producing oil and gas."

A NON-PRODUCING platform explodes?

Maybe I'm jumping to conclusions here . . . but doesn't that sound kind of suspicious? We do know from the Discovery situation that there are lefty wackos out there!

Posted by: TrochilusTales | September 2, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

So the guy was a terrorist and a left-wing nutjob. No biggie. It doesn't reflect on the rest of the lefties.

Same thing with the nut-job who flew a plane into an IRS building. It doesn't reflect on the rest of the righties.

Posted by: ZZim | September 2, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

People just need to recognize that both the left and the right produce nut jobs that will kill people and do all manner of harm. When some buffoon like Al Gore or Rush Limbaugh gins up their base, a certain percentage of these already unstable wing nuts will go out an act on whatever rubbish has been dumped into their heads. So, you ROTC building being burned, police shot by black militants, racist bigots murdering black kids for merely asking for equal voting rights with white, and on and on. When you sew mindless hatred, you reap the wind.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | September 2, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

For example, how is this piece written by Milbank and run here in the WaPo any different from those blaming Al Gore for Lee?

Posted by: edbyronadams | September 2, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

I thank the Obama/Biden administration for unblocking the Agent Orange relief for Viet Nam veterans and their offspring born during and immediately after their tour of duty. In those days our husbands, fathers and brothers were drafted into service for our country. It took 30+ years, but I am thankful, because we all experienced more than PTSD, but also Asian type diseases showing up in our children without an Asian heriatge. Until President Obama and the agenda; a great many home care issues were left neglected. Our veterans and we deserve the help. Thanks again. I think I wrote a letter, or filed when he came home in 1971.

Posted by: AMOSHansaResearch | September 2, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Acts of violence are beyond the pale of civil disagreement. Whenever one political persuasion uses a miscreant to paint the opposition with a broad brush it is wrong. Using Lee to paint the left is wrong. Using McVeigh or Rudolf to paint the right is wrong. Both sides do it and it just polarizes debate in the same way invoking Hitler or Stalin does.

I think the main beef is when the media uses polarizing figures, mostly on the right, sans violence, to paint conservatives with the brush of their choosing. They have recently used Glenn Beck in this effort.

Posted by: edbyronadams | September 2, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

The Montgomery County Police and the Discovery building security team did an excellent job in securing the building's occupants and taking down the terrorist.

Make no mistake, Lee's actions were those of a dedicated zealot who had social, political, and environmental agendas. Lee could be classified as an eco-terrorist. Whatever his personal intentions were, he terrorized thousands of people, discharged firearms, and was prepared to use explosives in a densely populated structure.
Discussions or rationalizations about his environmental ethics or philosophy are useless when you are one of his hostages or a member of a security or police SWAT team putting your life on the line to protect the public.We should all be grateful for the professionalism and expertise displayed yesterday by law enforcement in bringing this dangerous event to a successful conclusion-no innocent lives lost.
The Discovery organization will need to enhance security infrastructure and increase security personnel at all entrance points. In addition, situational awareness training must follow. Discovery security professionals should establish routine outreach and communication with their neighbors for future rapid recognition and reporting of potential threats.
All agencies and organziations that are involved in environemntal policy, information, education and enforcement should take threats from people such as Lee seriously. These agencies and organizations are very soft targets for eco terrorists.

Posted by: P4Potomac | September 2, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

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