With the recent and tragic murders of media personalities in Roanoke, VA by a disgruntled ex-colleague, I think all of us who live in the media spotlight have been taking stock of our circumstances. Just how exposed are we? What brand of wacko have we ticked off, and is one of them stalking us as we speak? It’s a very serious matter in this era when guns are easily available and mental health resources aren’t, and hardly a day goes by that some poor unfortunate doesn’t go off the deep end and start shooting, saving the last bullet for himself.
With that in mind, I can announce that after 25 years in this business I have received my very first piece of anonymous hate mail. It has no return address, of course, but it was postmarked in Evansville, and — as you might expect — it is a pastiche of poor grammar, an even poorer premise and a perfectly childish accusation. And you will be even less surprised to find that the issue is my clearly stated position on Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis’ refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
I don’t mean to re-hash all those arguments — you either support Kim Davis or you don’t, and I’m not interested in making a big deal out of it — it isn’t, anyway. If there were a big deal going on here there would be hundreds — thousands — of county clerks across the US refusing service to gay couples. There’s one. Just one. You do the math. Kim Davis — whatever else she may be; gold-digger, opportunist, brain-washed tool — is for certain a blip on the radar that will be gone in no time at all. She does not represent a powerful national movement. The number of Americans who believe God will send them to Hell for issuing a marriage license to a gay couple is, thankfully, quite small. What I do want to address is that out of the minuscule group of Davis supporters has come my first ever anonymous hate mail.
What does this tell us about the pro-Davis crowd? Anything? That there is at least a percentage of them who are desperate, grasping at straws, and potentially likely to turn to violence to further their cause? That would make sense if you consider another hotbed of radical religious Fundamentalism — Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, etc. Remember that every last one of the 9/11 hijackers were “acting on sincerely held religious beliefs” — isn’t that the cant Ms Davis’ lawyers have repeated ad nauseum since word one? Can’t that be said of The Spanish Inquisition, of the Japanese Imperial Army, the Ku Klux Klan?
The bottom line is that we are dealing with a very small but very determined group of people who are perfectly content to set aside the rule of law to obey their “sincerely held religious beliefs.” And that’s where people have always been at their most ruthless, their most dangerous.