[Atlanta] harbors an urban culture of violence. And I want you to look around. You drive into the city. The railroad overpass is on the downtown connector covered with graffiti. And that-- That is just an advertisement for everybody coming into this town that we really don't give a damn about those who would screw up our quality of life around here. We really just don't care. We don't care enough to paint over graffiti on the overpasses that come into our city, advertising welcome to Atlanta, here's some of our finest graffiti, from some of our finest urban thugs and their little gang signs. And pick up the paper tomorrow morning. Read about all the carjackings. Read about the innocent people shot for the pure de-hell of it.On the evening of Jan. 28, a group of four young Latinos, three of them local high school students in the Atlanta suburb of Lilburn, drove into the driveway of who they thought was a friend they were going to pick up to go ice skating. Unfortunately, their navigation system took them to the wrong house, and they paid a horrible price for their mistake when the homeowner came out of his house with a pistol, killed the driver, and held the three terrified passengers at gunpoint until police arrived to sort out the situation.
This town is starting to look like a garbage heap. And we got too damn many urban thugs, yo, ruining the quality of life for everybody. And I'll tell you what it's gonna take. You people, you are - you need to have a gun. You need to have training. You need to know how to use that gun. You need to get a permit to carry that gun. And you do in fact need to carry that gun and we need to see some dead thugs littering the landscape in Atlanta. We need to see the next guy that tries to carjack you shot dead right where he stands. We need more dead thugs in this city. And let their -- let their mommas -- let their mommas say, "He was a good boy. He just fell in with the good crowd." And then lock her ass up.
--Neal Boortz, June 14, 2011
The assailant, 69-year-old war veteran and former pastor Phillip Sailors, claims to be horrified at the loss of life: He claims that he simply assumed that the young men were there to invade his house, and maintains his innocence on that basis. Unfortunately for Sailors, self-defense cannot possibly justify his actions, at least according to the narrative of the incident produced by the three passengers who were lucky to escape with their own lives:
The friends said they pulled into the driveway and saw a man peer out the window. They said they waited in the car for a bit and then the man, Phillip Sailors, 69, came out of the home with a handgun, firing a round into the air.Someone who was legitimately interested in defending his property from a perceived threat would have been content to use the threat of deadly force to scare the possible intruders off of the property, but that's not was Sailors did. After Sailors fired his gun into the air, Diaz tried to get his passengers off of the property, but Sailors shot into the car as he was attempting to leave, killing Diaz. At this point, Sailors was so precisely not horrified by the loss of life he caused that he proceeded to hold the three high school students hostage until the arrival of law enforcement, which Sailors seems to have simply presume would side with him. This behavior suggests motivations far deeper than pure self-defense, described below the fold.
“The guy came out. He went in again and he came out with a gun in his hand and he shot into the air,” 15-year-old passenger Yeson Jimenez said.
The friends said that's when they tried leaving the house, and said Sailors pointed the gun at the car and shot Rodrigo Diaz, 22, who was driving the car. An arrest warrant said Sailors had a .22-caliber pistol.
The passengers said Sailors never asked what they were doing there.
“’Shut up.’ That’s the only thing that came out of his mouth,” passenger Gandy Cardenas said.
The friends said Sailors held the rest of the people in the car at gunpoint until police arrived at the home.
There is a narrative that runs pervasively through the conservative movement that combines the diseased threads of racism, worship of Ayn Rand, hatred of the social safety net, and gun fetishism. In this narrative, the violent and delinquent "takers" in minority urban communities are rendered lazy by the crippling dependency engendered by the modern form of slavery known as the social safety net, which is funded mainly by the "makers" in white suburbia. But when the takers start to outnumber the makers, as Paul Ryan likes to say, then there won't be enough money to fund the entitlement checks. When this happens, the social order will break down, and the desperate people of the urban inner city will invade white suburbia, which will have to defend itself and, in the words of Neal Boortz, litter the landscape with dead urban thugs.
While Boortz may have simply encapsulated this worldview in its most rudimentary form, he's not alone. A typical thread on a right-wing site like Free Republic can feature people proudly expressing all of these ideas, and itching to be able to put them into practice. As David Atkins at Hullabaloo put it:
There is a vast, festering paranoia in conservative circles about the "looters" and "parasites" coming to take their hard-earned material possessions in the supposed coming debt-fueled collapse of society. There is continual worry about some dark-skinned assailant attempting to enter their home and potentially steal their property. Radio shock jocks react to stories about carjacking by demanding that more people carry guns in order to litter the streets with more "dead urban thugs." There are large segments of the population that want nothing more than to eliminate subsidies to the poor and then await the desperate masses who will supposedly come to their doorstep with a lead welcome. Ron Paul and Alex Jones' legions of followers have been told to "defend your supplies from those who refused to prepare" for the supposed riots coming when EBT cards are canceled. It's doesn't take much investigation of conservative media consumer attitudes to discover that these sentiments are shockingly widespread.Sailors, like George Zimmerman before him, was not simply interested in self-defense. Rather, they were both trying to live out a fantasy popular in certain strains of conservatism: killing young men of color who they thought could have only been in the neighborhood to do something sinister. The supposed regret for the tragic loss of life only enters the equation when this pre-programmed worldview happens not to be true: when it turns out that Trayvon Martin was on his way home with Skittles and an iced tea from the convenience store, or when it happens that Rodrigo Diaz and his high-school friends just wanted to go skating and ended up at the wrong house.
Sailors ought to pay the highest price for killing an innocent and unarmed young man for no reason whatsoever, but he is not solely culpable for these crimes. After all, he was following the advice of Neal Boortz and his fellow conservative ideologues. He had a gun. He had training. He had a permit to carry that gun. He carried that gun. And he damn well thought he was littering the streets of Atlanta with a dead urban thug, just like Boortz said he should.
The death of Rodrigo Diaz, then, is on Boortz' head. And not just him, but every single other lunatic who simply can't seem to wait for things to go haywire just so they can have an excuse to use their Second Amendment remedies.