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Monday, March 31, 2003  
Must all that rises converge?

An American recently decided the times gave him permission to commit crimes. Reportedly inflamed since 9/11 and further influenced by the impending, than actual invasion of Iraq, Larme Price of NYC decided to go hunting. The quarry? People who look like those being killed by American troops in Iraq. But, since race is largely a social construct, 'looks like' can be a very ambiguous matter. It appears only one of the victims of of his rampage was of Middle Eastern descent.

The suspect, Larme Price, 30, confessed on Saturday to the four slayings, which terrorized residents and small-business owners and had been described as the work of a serial killer, the police said. Mr. Price said he was motivated by a desire to kill people of Middle Eastern descent after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, [Police Commissioner Raymond W.] Kelly said at a news conference at police headquarters.

Price is also being charged in two attempts that did not result in deaths.

The miasmas that often accompany such acts are present in this one, too.

Asked about Mr. Price's statement that he wanted to kill people of Middle Eastern descent, Mr. Kelly said, "I believe it fits the definition of a bias crime."

But Mr. Price's mother, Leatha Price, said yesterday that her son's anger at Middle Easterners was a matter of mental illness, not ethnic hatred.

There may have been a confluence between a mentally ill man and a society he perceived as giving him permission to be violent in regard to certain targets.

"I would get a bad vibe, and then a bad situation would happen," suspect Larme Price, 30, told police. "I got bad vibes from Arabs. When they spoke Arabic, they were talking about me," he said.

His confessed homicides may be the result of psychosis. I am not disputing that. However, circumstances can determine how psychotics act out their illnesses. The current environment of contempt for people from the Middle East may have granted Price the permission to act and determined who Price chose as targets.

There is something bloggers can do to lessen the probability of impaired people acting out in this tragic way. Many of our counterparts on the Right have contributed to creating an atmosphere in which some human lives are considered of less value than others. Some obviously revel in their hatred. Others rush to the defense of the worst of the lot.

Blogger Andrew Hagen began criticizing one of the most guilty parties months ago:

Let's focus on what Charles Johnson said. It's apparently okay for Charles to say without evidence, without reason that Islam is a monolith that hates the West, but it's not okay to say that based on his monolithic, stereotyped characterization of Islam, that Charles is a hater of Islam. Got that?

Islam is not a person, it's a thing—both a religion and a civilization. A thing can't hate.

I don't believe it is possible for liberal, moderate and progressive bloggers to repeat the second paragraph too often. We should repeat that statement again, again and again. It is the least we can do to prevent the Larme Prices of America, people whose own judgment is unreliable, from getting the idea that murdering some people is acceptable in these times. Hatred has risen. We must do what we can to stop it from converging.

Note: This column was also published at the watch.

3:15 PM