The case of Floyd Lee Corkins: Some hate crimes are less hateful than others

The case of Floyd Lee Corkins: Some hate crimes are less hateful than others
Floyd Lee Corkins
Floyd Lee Corkins

A morality tale by Mark Hemingway at The Weekly Standard ought to be enough to get the blood to shoot from your eyes. The main actors in the tale are a man named Floyd Lee Corkins — who in August of 2012 entered the lobby of the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. armed with a 9mm pistol and 100 rounds of ammunition — and a security guard named Leo Johnson, who took several bullets while wrestling Corkins’s weapons from him.

Corkins’ goal was to go on a murderous rampage of the FRC offices, leaving as many bodies in his wake as he could. In order to make a “complete statement,” he also had in his possession 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches. Writes Hemingway:

Corkins openly admits he selected the Family Research Council because the Christian organization is one of the leading opponents of gay marriage in the country. He had Chick-fil-A sandwiches in his backpack because the CEO of the fast-food chain was under fire for publicly supporting a biblical definition of marriage. Corkins said he planned to ‘smother Chick-fil-A sandwiches in [the] faces’ of his victims as a political statement.

Where the morality — or lack thereof — comes in is in the fact that in the year since the incident occurred, the press has largely ignored it. Ironically, Hemingway notes, the shooting of Leo Johnson is “one of the few inarguable examples of politically motivated violence in recent years.”

Perhaps the attack would have received more attention from the media if Corkins had succeeded in shooting up the offices, as planned, or at least in killing someone. Leo Johnson has had several surgeries since and lingering health problems, but that’s hardly as sensational as the massacre of six people at a political rally in Tucson.

Yet, one can’t help but wonder whether the media’s reticence has something to do with the revelation that Corkins has admitted he was plotting mass murder to further a popular liberal cause. Hemingway points out that during Corkins’s trial in February, the Washington Post wrote, “A detail sure to reignite the culture wars that erupted around the shooting is the fact that Corkins told FBI agents that he identified the Family Research Council as anti-gay on the Web site of the Southern Poverty Law Center.” Hemingway responds by noting that “it’s a little unseemly for a newspaper, when finally forced to confront actual politically motivated violence, to worry about the shooting’s impact on the metaphorical ‘culture war.’ Particularly when irresponsible actors in that culture war continue to get a free pass from the media.”


LU Staff

LU Staff

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