I wrote a brief note on the shooting at the Family Research Council headquarters in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday.
Now that more information has to come light, I have some further thoughts to offer.
First and foremost, we know the name of the suspect is Floyd Lee Corkins II, a 28-year old Virginia man who volunteered at a LGBT organization in D.C. More on him later.
I don’t think it’s prudent for Family Research Council President Tony Perkins to lay blame at the feet of the Southern Poverty Law Center. While I disagree with the FRC’s views on gay marriage they are not in the same league with neo-Nazis or the KKK and for the SPLC to say so is both defamatory and odious.
Nevertheless, I think Perkins’ dislike of the SPLC is clouding his view of the situation at hand. Under the circumstances, it would be difficult for Perkins to maintain his objectivity when you also consider that a man who is both his employee and a friend was injured in the shooting.
If we want to get to the bottom of what occurred on Wednesday morning, we have to know more about the assailant and his activities. CNN maintains Corkins “had no significant criminal record.” Well, what does that mean exactly? To say that someone has no significant criminal record suggests that person has been in some sort of trouble with the law. If that is the case then must ask if the incidents in question involved violence? If Corkins has a history violent behavior then the SPLC certainly does not bear any responsibility for his actions.
With that said, it would be interesting to know what the environmnent was like at the LGBT center especially considering that Corkins was carrying Chick-fil-A sandwiches with him at the scene of the crime. It would not be a stretch to suggest that emotions would have been running high at the LGBT center during the Chick-fil-A controversy. I cannot help but wonder if someone at the LGBT center might have suggested that harm should come to people who oppose gay marriage. I’ve been around gay rights activists who have said people like George W. Bush and Sarah Palin should be raped and murdered because they oppose gay marriage. If Corkins did in fact say, “I don’t like your politics,” as he began to shoot then one ought to ask how the atmosphere at the LGBT center might have influenced his behavior on Wednesday.
On the other hand, it’s quite possible that the staff at the LGBT center conducted themselves professionally and refrained from engaging in that kind of rhetoric. Let’s also keep in mind that Corkins was a volunteer rather than an employee at the LGBT center. So how often was he there? Once, twice a week? How did he interact with the staff and vice versa? Did he socialize with them after work hours? Of course, it’s also entirely possible that Corkins was a loose cannon and staff might have kept their distance from him. Yet they might have liked his passion and tried to channel his energy to specific projects or tasks.
I don’t think Perkins serves himself or the FRC well by blaming the SPLC in the absence of specific evidence. Chances are that Corkins has probably never even heard of the Southern Poverty Law Center. The reasons as to why Corkins brought Chick-fil-A sandwiches and ammunition to the Family Research Council on Wednesday lay with Corkins and possibly the LGBT center.