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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

What will the upshot of these murders be?


Vester Lee Flanagan, a gay, black, former reporter for a local TV station in Roanoke, Virginia, gunned down two white employees of that station in a murder which he recorded and posted to Facebook. Flanagan, who worked professionally under the name Bryce Williams, sent a 23-page manifesto to ABC News in which he said:

“What sent me over the top was the church shooting. And my hollow point bullets have the victims’ initials on them. As for Dylann Roof? You (deleted)! You want a race war (deleted)? BRING IT THEN YOU WHITE …(deleted)!!!”

This makes Flanagan pretty much the black equivalent of Dylann Roof, the Charleston shooter. He only killed two people, as opposed to the nine whom Roof killed. But in his manifesto Flanagan expressed admiration for Virginia Tech mass murderer Seung-Hui Cho and also the Columbine killers for their prolific numbers. 

And his motivation was the same as Roof's: race war. 

Roof's shootings remained on the front page of the New York Times, in one form or other, for roughly ten days. As a results of his mass murder, six states banned the confederate flag, and so did a number of corporations. President Obama flew to South Carolina to attend the funerals of the victims and delivered a eulogy. There was much talk of the scourge of white racism and how terrible it is when blacks are the victims of white violence. 

Will President Obama attend the funerals of the newswoman and cameraman who were killed in Roanoke? 

Will rivers of ink be spilled bemoaning the scourge of black-on-white violence? 

Will the NY Times keep this story on the front page for more than a week? 

Will there be calls for the banishment of some symbol of black nationalism?

Rhetorical questions, obviously. 

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

He looks like the black version of the Joker.

-Sebastian

John Craig said...

Sebastian --
I see why you're saying that, because of his eyebrows and wide mouth. But if you google-image "The Joker," there's really not that much of a resemblance. The Joker is lean and mean.

Jokah Macpherson said...

No.

John Craig said...

Jokah --
Not sure whether you're responding to Sebastian's comment or the questions asked at the end of the post, but either way, I agree.

mark said...

I really wonder if this guy in his 40's had worked anywhere in the last 15 years that gave him a good review upon leaving. My impression is that many places will just tell the prospective employer that x worked here and was not terminated. This really bothers me. Dangerous and incompetent people are leaving companies and entering new companies that have no idea what they are running into. Think of the people who could have been hired instead. I know it was a small market but you would have thought that they would have several good but perhaps inexperienced applicants to choose from. Also, was he on probation when he was hired? If they had dealt with him quickly(may not have been possible), the story might have ended differently. Very sad case, but I wish people would talk about hiring instead of guns or craziness this time.

John Craig said...

Mark --
What you're talking about is really the result of the increasingly litigatious nature of this country. Former employers are reluctant to give a troublemaker a bad review mostly because they're afraid of being sued. If the new hiree finds out that they spoke badly about him, he can sue them (I've heard of cases like this), and that's a headache they just don't want to deal with. Plus, the troublemaker would often be going to work for a competitor, and the old employers may secretly be happy about the fact that their competitors will now be saddled with someone who's more trouble than he's worth.

Flanagan was one of those people who saw racial and sexual discrimination wherever he went, so I suspect the media will say things that are semi-sympathetic to him, as the NY Times did in the case of Omar Thornton, the black man who shot and killed eight white employees of the company he used to work for in Hartford, CT. One thing we absolutely know the media won't do is play up the racial angle the same way they did with Dylann Roof.

Mark Caplan said...

The shooter's real name was Vester Lee Flanagan, which looks like it should have been Lester V. Flanagan, but something went seriously wrong from the get-go. One of his performance reviews said he was unable to read the Teleprompter®, a failing you'd think could have been caught before the station hired him, but maybe the station managers detected some hidden spark in Lester/Vester that, with proper nurturing and encouragement, would come to the fore.

John Craig said...

Mark Caplan --
I always find it amazing -- or perhaps not so amazing -- how many criminals (even the white ones, like Dylann Roof) seem to have misspelled names. If the parents can't be bothered to get the spelling of their offspring right, that child does not seem to have a bright future.

Not able to read a Teleprompter?!! That's an awfully big failing for a newscaster.

Quartermain said...

I am guessing that he was at least sociopathic. I am also guessing that what he called "racism" was that all his sexual advances were spurned. I wouldn't be surprised if those that run and own the news media are sociopathic as well.

I trust the last four questions were rhetorical because we both know the answers already.

John Craig said...

Allan --
He was something. Another possibility is that he had Aspergers, which would fit with his inability to get along with people at all. A sociopath would have done a lot better at that job than he did.

And yes, rhetorical.

mark said...

Thank you for your response. I suspect that you are correct about litigation. Politics is involved in the hiring process as well. All things being equal, I suspect that being a handsome black was a plus. I don't know that they would know he was gay, I haven't had an interview that was that intimate! Quite a dichotomy, a prestigious career but a brain that was more suited for a much more modest job. It had to be difficult for him and those that worked with him. I also think managerial arrogance sometimes plays a role. He looks good and gives a great interview so I will be able to handle him though I don't what was at play in this particular instance.

John Craig said...

Mark --
You think that guy was handsome??

We agree about his brain.

Anonymous said...

I think the man was more angry about being fired from a job for the umpteenth time, so he sought his revenge by wiping out two former co-workers. Personally, I doubt his actual motive for killing white people had any thing to do with race per se. Just my two cents.

-birdie

John Craig said...

Birdie --
Actually, it did have something to do with race. He was constantly accusing all sorts of people of racism, including the female newscaster he shot. One time she had said she was "out in the field," and he interpreted that to mean "cotton fields," which he construed as racist. I'm about to put up a brief post on that.

Anonymous said...

I look forward to your post.

-birdie

Quartermain said...

Here is an update:

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/aug/26/virginia-gunman-vester-flanagan-wdbj-2012-memos-medical-help

John Craig said...

Allan --
Thank you. I'm going to put up a post about Flanagan's mental state shortly.