How valid were the points of Discovery Channel gunman James Lee?

Putting aside for a moment what he did, which was clearly wrong, I’m curious to know if people feel as though James Lee, the fellow who was killed yesterday, after taking hostages at the offices of the Discovery Channel, had a valid point. For those of you who haven’t been following along, it seems as though Lee, a committed environmentalist (who should have been committed), was obsessed with the network, and the fact that, instead of dealing with critical issues like global warming, animal extinction and overpopulation, the network’s executives chose to focus on the exploits of epic breeders like Jon and Kate Gosselin. Following are quotes from Lee, taken from various sources:

“Global Warming is a reality. The massive extinction of animals is happening all over the world. Now let us begin the debate on how to save the planet. We can’t wait anymore, something must be done immediately! Let’s act on it right away; let this be a new chapter in the earth’s history. As human beings we must join together to save it.”

“All programs on Discovery Health-TLC must stop encouraging the birth of any more parasitic human infants and the false heroics behind those actions. In those programs’ places, programs encouraging human sterilization and infertility must be pushed. All former pro-birth programs must now push in the direction of stopping human birth, not encouraging it.”

“The Discovery Channel and it’s affiliate channels MUST (focus) on how people can live WITHOUT giving birth to more filthy human children since those new additions continue pollution and are pollution. A game show format contest would be in order. Perhaps also forums of leading scientists who understand and agree with the Malthus-Darwin science and the problem of human overpopulation… All programs on Discovery Health-TLC must stop encouraging the birth of any more parasitic human infants and the false heroics behind those actions. In those programs’ places, programs encouraging human sterilization and infertility must be pushed.”

Again, I’m not suggesting that Lee was right to do what he did. (He was clearly nuts.) And, on top of that, he was ineffective. I suspect that, if anything, he set the cause back considerably, as Theodore “the Unabomber” Kaczynski did before him. But, putting aside for the moment that he was a misguided, dangerously unstable eugenicist, I’d like to know if people feel as though he had a point about our culture celebrating the “false heroics” of epic breeders like the Duggars and Octomom? And, furthermore, should we demand more of networks like the Discovery Channel and TLC that purport to be educational in nature?

And, while we’re at it, what do you think he had in mind when he mentioned the possibility of a population-related “game show”?

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  1. Dirtgrain
    Posted September 2, 2010 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    You might say that the human constructs that reality TV is presenting dehumanizes us all, disconnecting us from froggies and other important things in the world. But in this case, Discovery was just a one of what could have been so many fixations for Lee’s delusions (is he paranoid schizophrenic?).

    Supposedly, this is his website.

    How can we rehumanize the people (and could this thinking lead over the edge, as well?)? Would that entail convincing them not to be drawn to such TV programs? Or giving them better alternatives? Maybe start a campaign that is much more effective than Lee’s website?

    The things you and others do to promote the arts and foster them in our community might achieve this somehow.

  2. Knox
    Posted September 2, 2010 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

    It’ll never change. It’ll always be easier to stick a few cameras on a crazy person that to, for instance, fly a crew out to investigate the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. And more people will watch it. It’s about money. I’m sure when people started TLC they had the best intentions. When people started MTV, they thought they’d show music. Guess what? They made a lot more money when the went with psychopaths. Octomom is good for ratings, as are people staple their nuts to their thighs. That’s the world we live in. That’s what your neighbors are watching right now.

  3. EFJ
    Posted September 3, 2010 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    This is especially the case with Octomom, who purposefully set out to have eight children, working with an unethical doctor to do so. And the Duggars are heroes to some – good, white, Christians looking to offset the booming birthrates of those dark skinned and scary illegals.

  4. Stella M
    Posted September 3, 2010 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    My favourite quote about the Duggars “it’s called a vagina, not a clown car”.

  5. Peter Larson
    Posted September 3, 2010 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    Not valid at all. Want to eliminate birth? Eliminate poverty. Unfortunately, the Discovery Channel can’t do that.

  6. Posted September 3, 2010 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    Holy crap, I thought I was nuts. You people are actually really crazy.

  7. Edward
    Posted September 3, 2010 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    The evidence does show that population falls with a rising standard of living. I’m not sure of the cause, though. It could be that people need to have fewer children in order to successfully pass on their genes, as mortality rates are better. Of course, it could also be that people, for the most part, don’t have the time and money to raise children in ‘developed’ countries. Personally, I’d have lots of kids, if I could afford the, and be a good parent to them. Someone, after all, needs to outfuck the Duggars.

  8. Edward
    Posted September 3, 2010 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    It’s probably not the TV game show he had in mind, but I like the idea of a series called Outfucking the Duggers.

  9. Posted September 3, 2010 at 1:22 pm | Permalink’s Andrew Leonard dedicated a “How the World Works” column to the topic a day or two ago –

    Insane, but perhaps not quite as kooky as it might initially seem. Because when choosing crazy-making prophets of doom and destruction as your inspiration, you could do a lot worse than the late 18th-century economist Rev. Thomas Robert Malthus.

    [lots of stuff snipped]

    Talking (or telepathic) gorillas, Malthus-gone-wild, a deranged armed man wreaking havoc on the Discovery Channel: It’s a crazy stew, and it will only get crazier as political opportunists start weighing in. Lee’s own manifesto doesn’t hold together in the slightest. If you believe, as he purports to do, in finding ways to unleash the creativity that spawned the original Industrial Revolution, then you don’t have to worry at all about population growth or immigration or the “pollution” of “filthy human children.” Those children — those newly educated Chinese and Indians and Brazilians — are exactly the people who will come up with the ideas and innovations that keep us hurtling forward into the unknown future.

    Leonard doesn’t provide any kind of satisfying answer to whether celebretizing “epic breeders” is a good idea or not – just that Lee’s own cited sources would tell us that having more people in the world – and thus more brain power – is the best way to solve the problems that Lee, or anybody else, is worried about. (Leonard, generally, does not believe in the handwaving of “Oh, technology will take care of us!” – he’s just making the point that Lee was, well, nutso.)

    (On the other hand, if you do think that quantitative maximizing of brainpower is the way to solve all problems, I’d recommend Charles Stross’ Accelerando for the logical outcome of this approach.)

  10. Wicked Kewl
    Posted September 4, 2010 at 1:01 am | Permalink

    Aren’t the Duggars famous just because they are just a little out of the ordinary? For example, none of my neighbors has more than one child, and probably yours also don’t.
    I like to think we watch shows like that so we don’t have to have so many kids ourselves. Besides, who has time to fuck with all the reality shows we might be missing?
    Sure there will always be copycats who see the Duggars and try to outfuck them, but very few people are that stupid. I used to watch Jackass occasionally, but I never ran around chasing midgets in Santa suits and riding in shopping carts while wearing just my underwear. I just watched, and thougth about what a bunch of idiots were inside my TV.
    And who cares about Malthus? He has no reality show at all. Does he even twitter?

  11. Duggars
    Posted September 4, 2010 at 1:32 am | Permalink

    Hi guys. If you think overpopulation is a big problem, blow your head off.

  12. James
    Posted September 4, 2010 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    Its as simple as this:
    Great numbers of humans–>great number of highly educated humans–>great amount of innovation–> greater chance of human innovation in space–> great chance of terraforming other planets–> much greater chance that life and all your precious polar bears will survive long after mother Earth has been destroyed by X (take your pick, comet, expanding sun, jets of cosmic radiation).

    Someday the “environmentalists” of today will be seen for what they really are: the greatest threat to life in our time. Sure humans should be extremely careful on this delicate planet but these wackos are starting to get out of hand.

  13. Duggars
    Posted September 4, 2010 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

    Let’s send all the educated environmentalist people to Mars so I can have more babies and wait for those big jets of cosmic radiation.
    that sounds cool.

  14. Lee G
    Posted September 4, 2010 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    Look folks, we’re animals. We have every right to act like animals and eat and breed ourselves into dominance. The whole idea that we somehow have to “protect” all those less developed species is judeo-christian nonsense that’s sunk into the limp primordial minds of James Lee and all his PETA freinds.

    NEWSFLASH: There is no g-o-d that makes you different from lake carp. We live. Breed. Eat. Die.

    Pandas are protein.

    Any animal that doesn’t extend my genes’ survival … fuck it, eat it, who cares? Species are lost to the process. Millions are gone. We’re here. We have guns and thumbs. Deal. Survival of the fittest. We won. Pop the cork and dine!

  15. Mark D
    Posted September 5, 2010 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Okay, let’s take a closer look at Lee’s little syllogism:

    1. Any animal that doesn’t extend my genes’ survival … fuck it, eat it, who cares?
    2. Look folks, we’re animals.


    If you don’t extend Lee’s genes’ survival, he’s permitted to eat you.

    Presumably, he’s applying these rules to all of us, so you may also choose to eat Lee.

    Bon appetit.

  16. Andy C
    Posted September 5, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    James Lee had no right to tell Discovery what to do. He should have started his own network instead of try to Hijack one that already exist.
    At the same time, this is a stupid conversation. Once your grandchildren are dead no one will remember you. Human will one day be gone and forgotten and the Earth will live on. In the big picture, you’re life is meaningless to everything but you. So enjoy the little things around you and make the most of today. It’s all you really have.

  17. Posted September 5, 2010 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    O for a stable eugenicist!

  18. Lee G
    Posted September 5, 2010 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

    Yes Mark D. I think that sums it up quite well. And if you’re able to eat me to survive, your grandchildren will thank you. It’s really not that hard to understand.

  19. Buns of Steel
    Posted September 6, 2010 at 12:15 am | Permalink

    You know, they say Black Jake has a banjo head he made from a human skin.

  20. Ypsiosaurus Wrecks
    Posted September 8, 2010 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    The rich get richer and the poor get pregnant.

  21. Edward
    Posted September 9, 2010 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    The President’s death panels should take care of this.

  22. Robert
    Posted October 5, 2010 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been planning to break into the Cooking Channel studios and hold everyone hostage until they agree to use less butter and more garlic in their dishes.

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