liberal-hunting-permit.thumbnail.jpgI don’t tend to write about killing sprees, serial killers, snipers and whatnot. Perhaps I’m a bit cold hearted, but I always figure that other than being spectacular, the emphasis on them misses the point – even as the Knoxville killings were happening, many many other people were being killed, raped, tortured, battered or just being crippled or dying in accidents. And I’ve lived in countries where life is cheap; where it costs less than what I make in a week now. Bengalis or Burmese drown in large numbers; starve in large numbers, are lined up and executed and hey, whatever. A few stories are written, and we go on.

Something about the Knoxville killings touched me, though. I saw the picture of the guy who did the killing "so ordinary" said the neighbours, "he seemed like a nice man" and I couldn’t but agree. But what touched me, more, was this – a man named Greg McKendry. McKendry’s dead now, and he’s dead because of this: he deliberately shielded others from a shotgun blast.

You don’t survive that, and he had to know it. So he knew what he was doing, and he made a decision—to put the lives of others above his own.

Then the congregants tackled the shooter, took him down, and held him for police.

Love of others, sacrifice for others, and calm collective action to deal with a threat.

They say that Unitarians are the most liberal church around.

I don’t know if that’s true, but in the face of tragedy, Unitarians certainly showed what liberalism should be.

Ian Welsh

Ian Welsh

Ian Welsh was the Managing Editor of FireDogLake and the Agonist. His work has also appeared at Huffington Post, Alternet, and Truthout, as well as the now defunct Blogging of the President (BOPNews). In Canada his work has appeared in and BlogsCanada. He is also a social media strategy consultant and currently lives in Toronto.

His homeblog is at