Holding Discovery Hostage

by Justin

A former acting teacher once shared a quotation, to illustrate some truth about believing in an action on stage, that went something like this: the first and most essential ingredient in any venture is a belief in its potential success. I am confident the original makes a better aphorism, but this still illustrates the point. It seems obvious, but a lot of times people begin things without ever suspecting the eventual success and the subsequent failure is self-fulfilling. Or the success is the product of some serendipity or something utterly outside the person. Point is: why lay your life on the line, championing a cause you deeply believe in, when the gambit absolutely cannot pay off? Mad fanaticism? Stupidity?

A strange thing happened just outside of the nation’s capitol today, an eruption of radical activism unrelated to the mania of extreme conservativism. The opposite extreme, really: it came from an individual inspired by the writings of Daniel Quinn, if you can believe it. Here’s the quick breakdown:

Earlier today James J. Lee visited the headquarters of his longtime adversary in Silver Springs, MD: The Discovery Channel. Mr. Lee took three hostages and held them for roughly four hours, claiming to have bombs strapped to his person and a gun at hand. This seems to have been an escalation of a multi-year history of picketing the education network, according to the NY Times, on the grounds of their interests in profit over elucidation. Yep. A history of protesting The Discovery Channel for its failure to correct the planet’s ills.

Now, were I of militant mind and a professed opponent the oblivious destruction of the planet (I am the latter), I’d aim my ire at those propagating lies. You know, those fair and balanced ‘news’ networks that trade in hyperbole and actively attack the truths of global warming and threats to the environment. Or even at an oil conglomerate or fundamentalists that foolishly teach abstinence as the only method of birth control. But The Discovery Channel? That’s where Mr. Lee waged his war, at one of the few stations that makes efforts to promote awareness. And it was Discovery that he charged with the task of meeting his demands. The full list can be found over at savetheplanetprotest.com (the site was inaccessible much of the day due to the surge in traffic and the exceeded bandwidth), but here’s the opener:

The Discovery Channel MUST broadcast to the world their commitment to save the planet and to do the following IMMEDIATELY:

1. The Discovery Channel and it’s affiliate channels MUST have daily television programs at prime time slots based on Daniel Quinn’s “My Ishmael” pages 207-212 where solutions to save the planet would be done in the same way as the Industrial Revolution was done, by people building on each other’s inventive ideas. Focus must be given on how people can live WITHOUT giving birth to more filthy human children since those new additions continue pollution and are pollution. A game show format contest would be in order. Perhaps also forums of leading scientists who understand and agree with the Malthus-Darwin science and the problem of human overpopulation. Do both. Do all until something WORKS and the natural world starts improving and human civilization building STOPS and is reversed! MAKE IT INTERESTING SO PEOPLE WATCH AND APPLY SOLUTIONS!!!!

Yep. My Ishmael, with a specific section in mind. The list goes on to demand that a cable network eradicate global warming, develop popular programming that 1) discourages any human procreation of any kind (babies being universally parasitic and all), and 2) “corrects and dismantles the dangerous US world economy.” Are US and world synonymous in this context? Who can know. But The Discovery Channel can do these things.

The tragic thing, and it really may be too soon for the sarcasm I’m tossing at Mr. Lee, is that his gambit resulted in his death. Tactical police units shot Mr. Lee and rescued the three hostages. Under any circumstances, this sort of desperation is tragic and worth examination.

But what I wonder about is his true agenda. Was he insane? Did he believe cable could save (his mankind-free definition of the word) the world? Was it a martyr’s stunt designed to aim people at My Ishmael? I hope more material surfaces about this guy. His website’s nutty, absolutely. He can’t have been the sharpest tool in the shed, but what did he hope to achieve? And why aim his cannon at a network with more nature programming than just about anyone else (though their site is way more gimmicky than it was a few years ago)?

Interesting, though, that his battle reached this breaking point. I wonder if the global preservation movement, marked by pacifism, compassion, and a commitment to awareness, will see more and more radical elements rising as the scene grows darker. Liberal progressives (and all thinking peoples) should be justly alarmed by the manic rhetoric of the Tea Party and its members. But if the Republicans experience a resurgence in November and again in 2012, and ignorance shimmers in the sun again, what desperate acts will rise out of the planet’s champions?

Understand, I do not advocate violent extremism in any incarnation and for any cause. Absolutely not. You don’t change minds that way, not in a real and lasting way. The Civil Rights Movement worked (is working, maybe) because of the soul-stirring quality of pacifism and patience. I hope the GOP dwindles into oblivion, but I’m afraid that if it swells into further prominence it will drive activists to the edge. Find me a better cause than a dying planet. It’s interesting to consider what the activist battlefield will look like when the spoils are the welfare of the earth.