This is a reality-based community.
When news broke late yesterday that the office of Texas State Senator Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) had been attacked by a man who threw molotov cocktails at the door, a diary went up and the diarist included speculation about the attacker's motives, including references to Planned Parenthood.
The comment thread degenerated from there.
Given that there has been a spate of right-wing violence over the last few years (see also G2Geek's excellent diary on "Stochastic Terrorism"), this speculation is understandable to a certain extent. But what I want people to realize is that as liberals, we should be committed to veracity.
When (for example) someone massacred 77 people in Norway in July of last year, the usual suspects wasted no time in blaming Islamist jihadis. Of course, the crimes turned out to have been committed by a right-wing Islamophobe named Anders Breivik.
The Fort Worth attacker has been arrested and identified as a mentally ill homeless man named Cedric Steele.
Before his arrest, Steele "spoke of an alien species" to officers and said he "had another piece of the alien in the rafter" of the vacant residence on Donnelly, the affidavit says.Clearly this individual has more in common with John Hinckley Jr or Jared Loughner than the likes of Breivik or Osama bin Laden.
Steele has four convictions between 2006 and 2010 in Dallas County, one for a assault of a family member and three for criminal trespassing, Dallas County records show.
There is no public record indicating that Steele is registered to vote in Tarrant County.
We mock Peggy Noonan for once literally saying "Is it irresponsible to speculate? It would be irresponsible not to." We should be mindful at all times why that statement (and the self-serving attitude towards truth and accuracy that it represents) deserves contempt.
When news of violence breaks in the future, please remember this incident and let's not make unsupportable assertions based on fear, or our preconceptions. Let's wait until the facts start coming in before we try to decide what something means. "A lie can be halfway around the world before the truth gets its boots on" and all that.