Among other things we're learning about confessed Charleston massacre perpetrator Dylann Roof is that not only was he motivated by hatred of black people, but his friends knew about it and were entirely too nonjudgmental about his plans for starting him a little race war. Kids, we're in favor of tolerance, but "It's All Good" really is not a useful moral stance.

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The New York Times tells us that while it's unclear whether Roof actually joined any organized hate groups, he certainly made no secret of his bigotry:

Joseph Meek, 20, a childhood friend who reconnected with Mr. Roof this year, said Mr. Roof had changed, spewing racist ideas and talking about wanting “to hurt a whole bunch of people.”

“He was saying all this stuff about how the races should be segregated, that whites should be with whites,” Mr. Meek said. “I could tell there was something inside him, there was something he wouldn’t let go. I was trying to tell him, ‘What’s wrong?’ All he would say was that he was planning to do something crazy.”

Meek says that he didn't take it seriously at first, but eventually, he was worried enough to do something:

[S]everal weeks ago he took away and hid Mr. Roof’s .45-caliber handgun, which Mr. Roof had bought with money given to him by his parents for his 21st birthday. But at the urging of his girlfriend, Mr. Meek returned the weapon because he was on probation and did not want to get into trouble.

Whoopsies. But after returning the gun, it didn't occur to him to call police or anything? Maybe let them know his racist friend was armed and making plans "to do something crazy"? There's such a thing as too much loyalty to a friend, guy. To be fair, Meek told the AP that when Roof started talking race war, Meek had at least tried everything he could to dissuade his friend, for certain values of "everything he could":

“He said blacks were taking over the world. Someone needed to do something about it for the white race,” Meek said. “He said he wanted segregation between whites and blacks. I said, ‘That’s not the way it should be.’ But he kept talking about it.”

And yet somehow that forceful intervention didn't change Roof's mind.

The Times reports:

Now Mr. Meek and his girlfriend, Lindsey Fry, both of whom are white, say they feel guilt about the shooting. “I feel we could have done something and prevented this whole thing,” Ms. Fry said.

You think?

Roof's roommate, Dalton Tyler, also seems to have responded to Roof's talk of race war with remarkable equanimity. Tyler said Roof appeared to have been planning his attack for something like six months:

“He was big into segregation and other stuff,” Tyler said. “He said he wanted to start a civil war. He said he was going to do something like that and then kill himself.”

Again, the Times details the great lengths Tyler went to in order to prevent a possible tragedy:

Mr. Tyler said on another occasion, the two were driving to a strip club by the zoo when Mr. Roof saw a black woman, used a racist word and said, “I’ll shoot your ass.”

“I was just like, ‘You’re stupid,’ ” Mr. Tyler said. “He was a racist; but I don’t judge people.”

Goddamnit, Dalton Tyler, you are getting us perilously close to agreeing with conservatives that American Culture has put waaay too much emphasis on being tolerant and nonjudgmental and morally relativistic. You're also giving us flashbacks to the student in a Freshman Comp class in the late '80s who proudly announced her standards for morality: "It doesn't matter what you believe, as long as you believe it sincerely." We had a nice discussion in class about why that might be a problem, since it would mean a really committed Nazi was more "moral" than a mildly committed opponent of hate. As we recall, a lot of the students got into it, but the student shrugged and said, with the supreme confidence of a 19-year-old, "Well, I believe what I believe, and that's what matters to me." We briefly wanted to send her to George Will Boot Camp.

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And so, Yr Dok Zoom's grumpy old man advice to the Youth of Today: It's not all good. Some things are evil, and you need to call them evil. We can disagree about a lot of political stuff, and if someone thinks that The Blacks or The Gays or The Liberals or the stupid-ass crackers with Confederate Flag license plates are ruining America, then sure, that's evil but tolerable. But no, while the First Amendment is good law, it doesn't mean you should just smile and nod when your friend starts spouting racism -- that's where the party ends. And once somebody with a gun starts talking about the need to do some exterminating, you need to stop being so tolerant and rat them out like a rat. It's a lot better than telling a reporter that you wish there'd been something you could have done.

Now get off my lawn and go read some philosophy. And no, Ayn Rand is not a philosopher.

[NYT / The Root / ABC News]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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