Wednesday, September 01, 2010

James Lee and The Discovery Channel

Did you hear today about the hostage-taking at the Discovery Channel headquarters in Silver Springs, Maryland? Well, I guess that the police just shot and killed the hostage taker outside of the building, and apparently some of the explosives he had wired to his body went off in the process. I was trying to learn more on this guy, and no doubt more will come out soon, but his name was James J. Lee, Asian, 43 yrs. old, and as of recently he has been it seems a sort of do-it-yourself environmental activist. Here are some links with more info on/about him: Suspect's blog, Manifesto, Interview with Relative.

In looking through his manifesto or list of demands to the Discovery Channel, I found that I could in many ways identify with some of the "big picture" views of this guy; saving the environment, ending war, issues of population, and so on. However, if you read a little more closely into his writings, there are some odd references which lead me to believe (as if what he did wasn't enough) that the guy was perhaps a bit mentally unstable. The ideas are large and basic, but not really well-developed, in terms of real-life approaches to these issues that could have some or any real potential for success. Perhaps he was always this way, or maybe he changed over the course of his life, but his writings are indicative of someone who has taken generally positive (for the most part) beliefs, and had become obsessed by them to the point that he did what he did. There are other clues as well, such as the vague demands that "people" invent things and find immediate solutions to overpopulation and environmental pollution and degradation. These are issues that have been struggled with for many years, and his frustration may be understandable, but the complexity of these issues requires much more than simple demands for solutions. As well, there are a few just bizarre references in his manifesto, such as in the following: "Saving the environment and the remaning species diversity of the planet is now your mindset. Nothing is more important than saving them. The Lions, Tigers, Giraffes, Elephants, Froggies, Turtles, Apes, Raccoons, Beetles, Ants, Sharks, Bears, and, of course, the Squirrels".

First of all, what about meerkats or say, lemurs? Don't they count for anything?

And then we have, "...and, of course, the Squirrels". Well, of course, the Squirrels! Isn't that just evident all on its own?

It's some little things like this that lead me to believe that the guy was, maybe of good intentions, but probably someone with some serious issues needing help. It's just too bad that no one noticed beforehand, or noticed enough to the point that they stepped in so that in some way this man could get the help that he probably needed.


Blogger Willowtree said...

I didnt know they killed him! There was nothing but a tiny blurb on the news this morning, so I thought all ended ok. This makes me so sad and angry. There is such stigma associated with mental illness - the thing is we dont make it safe for people who still have their minds, and feel they might need help - to actully seek it.
And then people with no understanding - "settle" the problem instead of finding out what the real issue was.

7:53 AM  
Blogger Frank said...

At first they said they "shot" him, then shortly thereafter, they said he was dead.

You're right; this whole incident really wasn't anything about eco-terrorism, or saving the environment, or anything at all like that. The more that information comes out today, it's easy to see that this was really all about mental illness. This poor guy just got fixated on a certain topic. His MySpace page had the word "worldguardian" in the URL address. His writings and demands are simple, and delusional. The Discovery Channel was his focus as a big part of the "problems"? Yep, somebody, family or friend, should have helped him and guided him somewhere to get help.

2:59 PM  

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