Family Tragedy Fueled By Right's Rhetoric by Dan Vojir
Most (reasonable) people know that if President Obama wins the election, the world will not end and the country will survive.
But not all of us.
Albert Peterson shot dead his wife and two sons hours after going to church because he dreaded the thought of Obama winning the election, a family friend has revealed.
Albert Peterson was indeed mentally ill. He suffered from a paranoia so severe that it led to suicidal depressions. He also stated that he hated to leave his kids "with this mess" (meaning the state of America today and its future under Obama). He also believed in conspiracy theories and felt that fellow employees at work would vote for Obama out of fear of losing their jobs (in defense contracting).
A valid point from
"The Right has painted a potential second term under Obama in apocalyptic terms. Fox News host Sean Hannity said that 'if Obama is re-elected, it's the end of America as we know it.' Pastor John Hagee, calling for 40 days of prayer for Mitt Romney,insisted that 'Four more years of Obama will bring absolute socialism to America. Our children and grandchildren will never know the greatness of America that we have experienced.' A full-page ad that ran in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune blared that Obama would 'force employers to give illegal immigrants the jobs of U.S. citizens,' 'force courts to accept Sharia law' and 'force doctors to assist homosexuals in buying surrogate babies,' among other outrages."
And outrageous as those claims were, Albert Peterson believed them - and acted accordingly.
There is a legal term that has been recently minted in the wake of
people acting on what they hear from the media and the pulpits: righteous
assassination. It was most prominently demonstrated when Byron Williams was
caught before attempting to assassinated people at the ACLU and the Tides
Foundation upon the conspiracy theories proposed by Glenn Beck. Albert
Peterson's actions reacted from similar influences but turned them inwardly -
to himself and his family. It may not be a term used in law, but there might be
a cause to add it: righteous suicide has actually been around for a very long
time, mostly in the form of suicide pacts that hold to the world coming to an
end or some other catastrophe.
Conspiracy theories contribute to righteous suicide: Peterson was known to send two emails per day expounding upon them. And righteous arrogance coming from the pulpit often fuels fears and paranoia: Peterson's elder son, Matthew, was said to have aspirations of going to Liberty University, the severely Fundamentalist school founded by Rev. Jerry Falwell.
An Ounce of Prevention - Toning Down The Rhetoric
"He was mentally ill" will be the defining factor in
this case for people who think it ridiculous to question the Right-wing
conspiracy buffs and Christian Right ministers such as John Hagee. Case closed.
But is it? Who were the enablers? And more pointedly: why did they do nothing
to stop Peterson?
People like Hagee, Mike Huckabee, Glenn Beck, Bryan Fischer
(American Family Association), and pseudo historian David Barton have all
prophesied doom and gloom from a second-term Obama administration while some
preachers have literally called Obama the Anti-Christ. They inflame
para-military groups and militias, but take absolutely no responsibility for
any consequences. They peddle fear with bravado and acquire politicians like
Michele Bachmann (ala Frank Gaffney, the Islamophobia specialist) so that they
can legitimize their claims. The possibility of toning down their rhetoric for
the sake of saving lives never seems to occur to them. They dismiss
"crazies" like Jared Laughner as having no relation to reality and
therefore are acting on isolated, unprompted, unabetted influences.
All their "crazies" live in a vacuum.
Albert Peterson did not live in a vacuum: he went to church and to work. He interacted with people on a daily basis. His group of friends feared for his sanity, but never "dreamed" that he would take the lives of his loving wife and two beautiful sons. Among those people in Albert's life were the outside media and the (closer) church.
With all those "friends" and enablers, maybe the true
conspiracy was against Albert Peterson: he was a sick person who never really had a chance of getting better.
The rhetoric was just too much.