There’s fringe and there’s lunatic fringe. Fringe are the guys whose views are long since gone out of style, but whom are fairly good normal guys. People like prohibitionists and flat earthers. The lunatic fringe is a bit more widely known because their tendency to commit crime and believe in bizarre, offensive, and dangerous ideas.
Scott Roeder had the credentials to be on the lunatic fringe before yesterday. Between his belief in being a sovereign citizen in the 90s, traveling with explosives, his ability to remove barcodes from five dollar bills, his belief that doctors who performed abortions should be murdered, and other bits of dangerous lunacy.
George Tiller, on the other hand, was vilified by the right and gunned down in one of the places where people shouldn’t have to think about having bodyguards. And i’m sure that the people who watered the radius around them with their vitriol about Tiller won’t revisit how poking dangerous lone wolfs with sticks could have led to the crime of yesterday.
Although, if the vilifiers considered the history then how much of their rhetoric would have changed? Or are we to believe that the right-wing media and social figures keep lighting matches, and that it’s not their fault when right-wing lunatic fringe nutjobs keep exploding?
Almost 5 months in, and a vilified homeland security report seems to be getting vindicated.
I don’t expect some of these guys to be visited by three ghosts and to change their rhetoric. After all, it’s only a consistent series of exceptions occurring here. The conspiracy-believing cop killer in Pittsburgh, the conspiracy-believing doctor killer in Kansas, and others couldn’t possibly be inflamed by conspiracy-spouting fountains of misinformation and distrust. Being repeatedly lied to about how giant forces are trying to harm what you hold dear couldn’t possibly lead to lunatic fringe members striking back.
After 15 plus years, Tim McVeigh, Eric Rudolph, no number of more obscure criminals, and many other explosions, we’d hope that we stop playing dumb over these things. Or at least this decade, when media influences on murderers and terrorists are noted, it’s not laughed off (OKC 1995). It’d be a nice little change to deal with the lunatics in our midst instead of ignoring them, or poking them with sticks until they snap on someone else.
But i’m not betting on that change in 2009.