At this very moment, a gunman – alleged to be a man by the name of James Lee – is holding hostages at the headquarters of The Discovery Channel.  Yes, of all the networks in the world to target, he picks The Discovery Channel.  I’ll admit that I don’t watch much of The Discovery Channel (most of my TV watching is sports or forensics shows), but this seems to be a network dedicated to education.  Why on earth would someone pick on them?  Many other networks are much more controversial.

It turns out that we do not have to look very far to find the answer to that.  According to CNN, Mr. Lee has a bit of a history with The Discovery Channel.  He is an environmental protestor who has been very critical of the network on his website.  Lee considers mankind to be “filth” and his manifesto demands that The Discovery Channel “stop encouraging the birth of any more parasitic human infants.”

We all know how this story is going to end.  There is no “good” ending.  The best possible solution – the one that everyone is hoping for – is Lee being dragged away in cuffs and traumatized hostages heading home to spend time with their loved ones.

But surely the publicity Lee gets from this terrorist action will bring publicity to his cause, and make the country think more seriously about the effect mankind has on the environment, right?  Before long, everyone will be making a concerted effort to cut pollution, and the world will be a better place …

Of course not.  Lee’s action’s will actually create a backlash against all environmentalists – both extreme and moderate.  His actions will be counterproductive and will serve to stymie the efforts of those organizations attempting to pursue policy changes in a more civilized manner.  I agree with Lee’s broad viewpoint that it would be good if people were to reduce pollution – but I vehemently oppose his tactics.

You may be able to brandish a gun and force your hostages to do what you want them to, but the gun will not force a civilized society to place any more weight on your words.  In fact, much the opposite.  Not only is the pen mightier than the sword, it is also mightier than the gun.  The strong are those who can convince others that their opinions are current simply by speaking or writing about them.  Only the weak have the need to reinforce rhetoric with violence.  The rule of law trumps the rule of violence.  We have elections in this country, not duels.

As the saying goes, “you are only as strong as your weakest link.”  Those who use violence to push their agenda do more to undermine it than those who simply oppose the rhetoric with words.  We see this sort of pointless violence far too often in the world today.  Instead of inflicting violence on those who oppose us, let us instead beat our swords into plowshares.  Let use make the conference table the first choice of battlefield, rather than the last resort – and let us push the extremist elements to the sidelines.