Atheist Gunman at School; Atheist Hitchens Assaults Priest

You have probably heard about the school shooting in Cleveland. A student at a magnet school showed up on campus yesterday and shot two fellow students and two of his teachers. He then killed himself with his own gun. Fortunately, his victims will recover.

What has gotten less play is what prompted the shooting spree. The student, Asa Koon, was an atheist. The previous day he had gotten into an argument about the existence of God that was broken up by a teacher. During the argument, he said things like "F--- God!" It appears that after class, he got in a physical altercation with a theist student over their previous argument about God's existence. This too was broken up by a teacher and both students were suspended.

Two days later, Koon showed up with two handguns and proceeded to hunt down specific teachers, shooting one of them and two students and another teacher who got in his way.

In other news, atheist dogmatist Christopher Hitchens assaulted a 62-year old priest following a reportedly rambling, inebriated rant full of vulgarity and anti-semitic comments. Fortunately, a bodyguard interposed himself between the two and the priest was unharmed.

Are these examples of the more aggressive, proudly intolerant New Atheism?


Jason Pratt said…
I wonder if Hitchens will have the guts to take the Mel Gibson route on that one.

Okay, now I'm having a highly amusing time imagining Hitchens being sentenced to take the same counciling program _with_ Gibson... {ggg!}

(The former case is not amusing at all; but then I'd also be wary of presenting it as an example of NA per se.)

BK said…
But, Jason, there is a difference. Mel's rant went against his faith. Christopher's rant didn't go against his faith because there is no standard of conduct for which he has to apologize (other than whatever society as a whole believes is wrongful -- however that's decided).
Leslie said…
On the one hand, you can't say "atheism caused the kid to do this." Obviously not all atheists, or even most, go on killing sprees. On the other hand, you can't say that it offered any hope of prevention either. And that's one of the major differences between these examples in Christianity and in atheism.
Jason Pratt said…
That's quite true (in each case--Leslie's comment, too); I didn't mean to imply there wasn't a difference. Even if Hitchens _does_ have the courage to go the full mea culpa route, he can only be doing it on tacit grounds that synch up with Mel's faith. (Assuming we take Mel's penitence seriously and not as some mere public relations damage control.)

It's still funny imagining them together in the same counciling program, though. {g} Precisely because they are (a) both fairly hot-tempered; and (b) on opposite sides of the most important topic of all time. (Or of all fallen time anyway. {s})

Layman said…
Hitchens' is big on borrowing the moral capital that Christianity has put in the bank.
Anonymous said…
The article does not state assault nor physical altercation. It states that "Hitchens was shouting at Roman Catholic priest only inches from his face."

Please also state what you claim his anti-Semitic comments were (read the article). Bear in mind that he has also supported Israel and he has Jewish ancestors from his mother’s side.

Please correct the misleading title and the article. Twisting the truth is not nice.

BK said…
I can answer that:

First, assault does not require that a person touch another. Assault, by the legal definition, is "the threat or attempt to strike another, whether successful or not, provided the target is aware of the danger . . . ." The article states that there was the threat and it was recognized by the security guard:

Hitchens’ manner appeared so physically menacing, witnesses say, that a plainclothes bodyguard on duty at the event rushed in and escorted the drunken scribe from the room.

That is assault.

Second, the article (that you read) clearly identifies the anti-semitic comment:

The reference to anti-Semitism relates to a brief exchange between Hitchens and Collier on the topic of circumcision, which went as follows:

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: What if I say, Everyone in the country knows that female genital mutilation is a horror show? And it should rightly be a federal crime. But male genital mutilation is a filthy Jewish practice. Doesn’t sound good, does it, to say that? You know how sensitive we can be. But what else?

And that happens to be my view. And I am damned if I’ll become an American in order to be told I can’t express it. Okay?

PETER COLLIER: It is true, of course, that genitally mutilated males have a six times lower frequency of getting AIDS in Africa, for instance, right?

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: Well, there would be less AIDS if the Islamic and Catholic authorities didn’t say that AIDS may be bad but condoms are worse, which is the religious preachment. And by the way — I suppose we may as well get this out of the way — the jolly old foreskin –

PETER COLLIER: The foreskin.

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: — the foreskin itself –

PETER COLLIER: Oh, let’s get right to it. Okay.

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: When in doubt — as they always say — when in doubt, talk dick. The foreskin can be loosened. The foreskin can be loosened, and even slightly snipped — in order, for cleaning purposes. But it doesn’t have to be violently torn and excised, in the Maimonides recommendation, which is, by the way — when Maimonides mandates it, he says, not to prevent you from getting a filthy disease; it’s so that you will feel the least sexual pleasure that’s consistent with making another Jew, through a hole in the sheet. Okay? (“An Evening with Christopher Hitchens.”)

I don't see where the post is either misleading or incorrect. Do you disagree that this was an assault or calling circumcision a "filthy Jewish practice" is anti-semitism? I don't see how . . . .
Layman said…
Thanks, BK.

It is troubling how people can't see obvious anti-semitism.


You are confusing assault (threat of physical contact) with battery (actual physical contact). You are once again revealing your ignorance. Perhaps you've watched too many CSI shows and not paid enough attention in class.
Anonymous said…

Thanks for the definition. The article does not state that Hitchens threatened to strike, that is your assumption. Please change the title to be fair.

I agree that it sounds anti-Jewish, but if you read the article, Hitchens is against the practice of circumcision not against the Jews. If that makes him anti-Jewish, then ok. With the same logic anyone how criticizes Muslim practice of suicide martyrdom a anti-Muslim or if one criticizes ethic group X for honor killing an anti-X or if one had criticized Christians for witch burning as anti-Christian.

Hitchens is well know from his pro-Jewish views and stated that most of his friends in Washington are Jewish. background:,11581,683899,00.html

Layman said…

The article clearly states that Hitchens approached the priest in a physically threatening manner. That is an assault.

Referring to a "filthy Jewish practice" is obviously more than a commentary on a medical practice. And how about that comment about the Jews doing it "that you will feel the least sexual pleasure that’s consistent with making another Jew, through a hole in the sheet"?

It is astonishing how much the supposedly tolerant will excuse in their anti-religious heroes.

I am sure some of Hitchen's best friends are Jews, Peter. But that does not chance what he said. I did not say that Hitchens hated Jews or even that he was an anti-Semite. I said he made "anti-semitic comments," which he plainly did.

I will say that it is hard to see how Hitchens could not have contempt for Jewish identity given how grounded that identity is in monotheism.
Unknown said…
I'm struggling to see the link between the two stories in this post...

Btw Fr. Rutler's "you will either die a Catholic or a madman" reminds me of Chesterton's Maniac. Can't say I agree, though, being an Evangelical.
Layman said…
The link?

Both are bad actions done by atheists. Obviously Hitchen's is morally incomparable to the atheist gunman's actions.

Consider it equal time in a way, since New Atheists often highlight the bad actions done by Christians as being evidence that their belief system "poisons everything."

I see Rutler's point, which is that Hitchen's will either get control of his inner demons or lose it completely some day. I too would disagree that converting to Catholicism would be the only way to find that peace, but I appreciate the point.
Anonymous said…
I'm appalled at the suggestion that this latest shooting was in any way due to the boy's lack of religion. If he had been a Muslim, he would have been a terrorist. If he had been a Christian, I'm sure you would have attributed it to Satan. The fact is that he was mentally ill, and that condition knows no religious boundaries.
Layman said…

You remind me of a question a law professor asked my class in law school. A guy climbs a tower with a high powered rifle and shoots dead 20 people, men, women, and children. Is he mentally ill? In a sense, many people would view such actions as definitionaly a symptom of mental illness.

But even mentally ill people have motives. And it does appear that at least in part the motive in this case was a dispute over the existence of God. The atheist in the dispute showed up thereafter with a gun and shot several people. The theist did not.

If he had been a Christian, I'm sure you would have attributed it to Satan.

On what basis do you make this claim? Christians are even more responsible for their actions, in my view, than others.

As for a Muslim, whether he was a terrorist or not would depend on his motivation.
Steven Carr said…
Here's what atheism means to some high school students.

Little wonder that the Christian Cadre has nothing but contempt for the intellectual capacity of the 'New Atheists' as represented by high school student.

'I go to church every Sunday and when I do I believe in God. He is great. But sometimes when the other kids make fun of me because I stink in sports I don’t think God is so great. Why did He make me stink in sports? I wouldn’t make anybody stink in sports if I was God because people who stink in sports have feelings too. So in church I’m a Christian but when the other kids make fun of me because I stink in sports I’m an athiest.'

Number 2:

'I am a athiest but my parents are Christains. When I told them I was a athiest they nearly had a heart attack but they did’nt. I’m glad they did’nt but I’m sorry they did’nt get a little bit of a pain some place on their body because they washed my mouth out with soap and that made me throw up. They did it when I told them I was a athiest. They said I did’nt even know what it means, but I do. It means I hate Jesus, that’s what Billy told me. And I do hate Jesus because I got bad presents last Chrismas. My parents said thats not Jesus’s fault its Santa’s fault but I do’nt believe in Santa because it makes no sense.'

Personally, I blame Dawkins.

If these kids stopped reading Dawkins, maybe they would grow up.
BK said…

I don't know where you got those quotes, but those kids are very confused. I'm happy to say that for once I agree with you. Dawkins with his idiotic book is responsible for much bad thinking in this country.
Leslie said...

On the one hand, you can't say "atheism caused the kid to do this." Obviously not all atheists, or even most, go on killing sprees. On the other hand, you can't say that it offered any hope of prevention either. And that's one of the major differences between these examples in Christianity and in atheism.

10/11/2007 03:31:00 PM

Most Christians don't go on killing sprees either, nor do they support the holocaust. But atheist are starting to claim that they do.
Anonymous said…
He did not kill because he was an Atheist. He killed because he was upset and made the wrong choices. This can happend to anybody, no matter what they believe in or not.

In any case, it should not be liked with beliefs; remember that Christianity has two thousand years (and continuing) of psychopatic killing and torturing "in the name of God" to account for.

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