We may never know why James J. Lee, the gunman killed in Wednesday’s hostage-taking at Discovery Channel headquarters, became so fixated on Discovery and its co-owned networks.
But if we can’t learn why, we can at least try and identify what he was so obsessed about – specifically, which programs on the Discovery networks bothered this mentally unstable man so much that he staged solitary protests outside the cabler’s Silver Spring, Md., offices for several years, and then suddenly stormed inside this week.
A look at Lee’s “manifesto,” posted on his self-styled Web site – SaveThePlanetProtest.com – provides some clues to what was bugging him.
Generally speaking, Lee’s screed accuses Discovery of presenting programs that are detrimental to the future of our planet. He mentions few actual titles, but seems to be referring to everything from the weapons shows on the Military Channel to the TLC programs about big families. Here’s an attempt at interpreting Lee’s manifesto:
“All programs on Discovery Health-TLC must stop encouraging the birth of any more… human infants,” Lee wrote. “All former pro-birth programs must now push in the direction of stopping human birth, not encouraging it.” Certainly, this could be referring to ‘Kate Plus 8,’ ‘19 Kids and Counting’ and the upcoming ‘Sextuplets Take New York.’
“All programs promoting War [sic] and the technology behind those must cease,” Lee demands, appearing to target Military Channel shows such as ‘Future Weapons’ (which he mentioned by name), ‘Weaponology,’ ‘Science of The Elite Soldier’ and other series.
“We are running out of time to save this planet,and the Discovery Channel is a big part of the problem, not the solution.” He then accused two Discovery shows – the taxicab quiz show ‘Cash Cab’ and ‘Dirty Jobs’ – of serving as “diversions to keep the focus off what is really important.”
In another section, he charges that the shows on Discovery’s Planet Green network are “all about more products and other substandard solutions.” It’s difficult to pinpoint here exactly which shows he was talking about – ‘Living with Ed’? ‘Emeril Green’? ‘Renovation Nation’? It’s hard to say.
And he appears to go after Discovery’s ‘Deadliest Catch’ and Animal Planet’s ‘Whale Wars’ when he complains about Discovery producing shows that “glorify fishermen who are overfishing the planet…. What’s next? Whaling the Planet with Modern Whalers?”
All in all, Lee’s manifesto reveals a detailed knowledge of Discovery and the 10 networks it owns, along with the programming on each of them. It all makes you wonder what exactly got into this guy’s head, and why some people on the far fringes of society become so obsessed with the media.
Should someone have tried to help this man along the way, possibly preventing the tragedy that unfolded this week? Or is there really little we can do about the James Lees in our midst?