Wednesday, October 07, 2015


The Media Research Council sees an injustice:
Nets Hype Muslims Targeted in Chapel Hill Shootings 12 Times More Than Christians in Oregon

It’s newsworthy when people of faith are killed by a gunman -- except when they are Christian. The broadcast networks made that clear by the difference between the massive coverage of the shooting of three Muslims in February and the little coverage of how the Oregon shooter reportedly targeted Christians.

“Many have already judged this as a hate crime,” CBS’s Scott Pelley asserted on the Feb. 14 evening news broadcast covering the Chapel Hill shooting. When three Muslim students were killed by an angry neighbor last spring, the broadcast networks jumped to allege this was an anti-Muslim “hate crime” -- bringing that phrase up a whopping 30 times in eight broadcasts.

Compare that to how the broadcast evening news shows treated last week’s shooting in Oregon -- where survivors described the shooter asking students if they were Christian before shooting and killing them.

That essential detail was heavily downplayed by the networks-- who only mentioned it three times in eight broadcasts....
I wrote on more than one occasion that I thought the Chapel Hill murderer had a mix of motives -- a psychologically extreme tendency toward absolutist self-righteousness (about parking, of all things) plus anger about financial difficulties along with his obvious hatred for religion, which was almost certainly directed against the victims because they were so open about their faith.

The MRC tells us:
While the FBI had launched a formal investigation into the matter, neither they nor the local police had determined a motive for the [Chapel Hill] shooting. But that didn’t stop the networks from suggesting that the murders were most likely a hate crime....

Yet when it came to the Oregon shooting, journalists flipped the script. The evening news shows didn’t get an expert to decry the “hate crime” against Christians. CBS actually pre-empted that by specifically bringing on an expert to deny that religion had any aspect to do with the shooting, during their Oct. 2 broadcast. Like Chapel Hill, the investigation in Oregon is still ongoing, so why didn’t the networks downplay the religious aspect both times?
Let me try to answer that.

When we try to determine the attitude of Christopher Harper-Mercer toward religion, all we know is this:
A dating profile published more than three months ago with his email address on the website Spiritual Passions ... described Mr. Harper-Mercer as “Not Religious, Not Religious, but Spiritual,” and it said he belonged to a group called “Doesn’t Like Organized Religion.”
Disliking organized religion is not necessarily the same thing as loathing belief, or loathing a particular belief system -- I've known my share of believers who were disgusted with organized religion. And it's a far cry from the angry atheism of Craig Stephen Hicks, who was arrested for the Chapel Hill shootings:
On Facebook, Hicks presented himself as a libertarian gun enthusiast and an “anti-theist” who wanted “religion to go away.” In one post, he wrote, “The moment that your religion claims any kind of jurisdiction over my experience, you insult me on a level that you can’t even begin to comprehend. Even if your beliefs had substance, the arrogance of that would be insult enough. But the fact that they have no substance, and are merely a transparent raft of delusions and lies, magnifies the insult enormously.”
But didn't Harper-Mercer demand to know whether potential victims were Christian, and single out declared Christians for death? Maybe, maybe not, as a CNN story noted on Monday:
Relatives of two wounded victims have said the gunman asked his victims about their religion before he shot them.

One victim, Cheyeanne Fitzgerald, didn't answer and was shot in the back, her mother said. Another victim, Anastasia Boylan, told her father the gunman asked specifically whether they were Christians.

[Survivor Tracy] Heu also said the gunman asked about religion. But she said it didn't seem to matter, because he shot some people even before he asked.

"I don't think he was really targeting them," she said. "I honestly don't think he was targeting anybody. He just wanted to do it for fun. 'Cause he still shot every single one that he asked. So I don't think he was actually targeting a specific religion."
If you say this was an anti-Christian hate crime, you're saying that Tracy Heu is a liar.

Recall that in Chapel Hill, the victims were three people the shooter knew were Muslims. In Oregon, according to CNN's sources, the murderer shot people he hadn't identified as Christian. And recall that, according to legend, the Columbine killers murdered for religion, even though that turns out to be a myth. But if it was a myth Harper-Mercer believed, maybe he invoked it as a sort of homage to a legendary mass killing. (I also think his decision to spare one potential victim was meant as homage to Dylann Roof in Charleston, who similarly spared one person and told her to "tell everyone" what happened. Mass-killer trivia is cherished by many sick individuals, some of whom later kill.)

One final point: In Chapel Hill, a suspect was arrested. He could be charged with a crime. It mattered whether the authorities determined that the killing was a hate crime. By contrast, Christopher Harper-Mercer didn't survive. He can't be charged.

Harper-Mercer gave his designated survivor a flash drive. Presumably it contained his "manifesto" --- the one that says, according to AP, that he complained about not having a girlfriend, but (as far as we know) said nothing about religion.

But that doesn't matter, I guess. The Media Research Council is still offended.

1 comment:

Never Ben Better said...

You know as well as I do, facts don't matter when building a Christian martyr narrative.