Last week’s killing of 9 bible study group members in Charleston, South Carolina, reminds me of an event which happened 20 years ago this year.
On April 19, 1995, I owned five radio stations in Oklahoma, including stations in Tulsa and Oklahoma City.
That morning, a rental truck containing a bomb made of fertilizer and diesel fuel blew up the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people. In a time frame not dissimilar to the amount of time it took to arrest the perp in last week’s killings, Oklahoma authorities arrested Tim McVeigh, who was tried, found guilty, and executed in 2001 (ironically a few months before 9-11).
I’ve always been extremely proud of the way my people covered McVeigh’s crime.
The next morning, we got a call from a television group in New York that produced a long-forgotten show called Talk Television, hosted by a forgettable New York TV reporter named Lisa Evers (back then known as Lisa Sliwa). They wanted to hook up with our Tulsa-based morning show. We said ok.
The show they booked included some sort of psychobabble expert, and they wanted to know what we were doing for “the children.”
My afternoon guy—whose voice you have heard on many national commercials—called in to say that he told his three-year-old that some nutbag blew up a building over in Oklahoma City and that “we don’t do that in our family.”
The folks from New York were horrified. They didn’t know what to say.
I was like a proud father. Couldn’t have put it better myself. (It was an all-hands-on-deck week; and all the credit should go to Howard Miller, Tim Carroll, Jeff Brucculeri, Pat Richardson, and Jim Fellows in no particular order because they all did what they did best as well as they have ever done it.)
What horrified the New York psychobabble experts fits the clown in South Carolina as well.
I don’t care about his online “manifesto” any more than I cared about McVeigh’s bullcrap (which can still be found online). It was immediately disqualified from consideration when he started killing innocent people in a civilized society to make whatever point he thought he was making. Besides, it is mostly nonsense.
This isn’t about civil rights or guns or violence.
It’s about some nutbag who killed nine people for no real reason no matter how sophisticated he thought his ranting may have sounded.
And the same applies to politicians who try to make some political hay from the situation.
In fairness, at least McVeigh didn’t use guns–so Bill Clinton could not have used the bombing to call for gun control. Barack Obama had no such impediment because a gun was, indeed, used; and Obama immediately took the cheap shot as if taking away the right from law-abiding citizens to defend themselves would have had any impact at all.
But in fairness, Obama also said this:
“Racism, we are not cured of it. And it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say ‘nigger’ in public… That’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It’s not just a matter of overt discrimination. Societies don’t, overnight, completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years prior.”
Whatever else it is, it’s a tacit admission that you cannot legislate the way people interact with each other all the time.
That said, again, this wasn’t about race. It was about some nutbag who shot nine people dead in a church because he was, well, a nutbag. And in the vast majority of the United States of America, we don’t do that in our families.
There are no real answers.
Because in 330,000,000 people, there are going to be some nutbags.
There is no law you can pass, no police action you can take to cure that. Nor should there be in a free society. Because Ben Franklin said this:
“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
What you CAN do as parents and family members is to make sure that, growing up, the Dylann Roofs and the Tim McVeighs of the world know that we don’t do that in our families.
It’s ALL we can do.
Racism, gun control, and fertilizer control are all debates for another day.
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This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth