The hostage situation at the Discovery Channel Wednesday, which ended with the death of the offender, shows the extent some people will go to complain about cable programming.
He was not directly blaming Kate Gosselin or any of the Duggars, but the main thing James J. Lee, 43, was obviously obsessed with in numerous protests at the Silver Spring, Md., Discovery headquarters and in strapping a bomb to himself Wednesday, was the many shows on Discovery's TLC Channel involving multiple families.
A manifesto on his website said "all programs on Discovery Health-TLC must stop encouraging the birth of any more parasitic human infants and the false heroics behind those actions."
Well, they do have a lot of those shows.
On TLC, Jon and Kate Plus Eight (now turned to Kate Plus Eight due to divorce), and then 19 Kids and Counting celebrating the Duggars, the Arkansas couple who have been popping out kids for two decades and look like they're not about to stop anytime soon (they take "and Counting" seriously -- the show was first called 17 Kids and Counting and then 18 Kids and Counting).
Then there's Table for 12, featuring Betty and Eric Hayes raising three sets of multiples, totaling ten children. Quints by Surprise, the latest show about multiple births, began on TLC on Monday.
TLC is also the home of shows where women don't even know they're about to give birth: I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant.
As for "false heroics," the Discovery Health channel, home of the annual Baby Week, regularly features in its schedule things like Amazing Families, Crib Notes, Deliver Me and NICU, or neonatal intensive care units.
All must go, said the television terrorist.
"In those programs' places," Lee demanded, "programs encouraging human sterilization and infertility must be pushed. All former pro-birth programs must now push in the direction of stopping human birth, not encouraging it."
Imagine: Kate Plus Zero. Nada and Counting. Table for None. I Didn't Know I was Infertile.
Stop all shows glorifying human birthing on your channels and on TLC," Lee demanded. "For every human born, ACRES of wildlife forests must be turned into farmland in order to feed that new addition over the course of 60 to 100 years of that new human's lifespan! THIS IS AT THE EXPENSE OF THE FOREST CREATURES!!!!
Discovery gets no credit from Lee for another of its networks, Animal Planet, for presenting what some say are aggressively environmental shows, from Whale Wars to the new Blood Dolphins.Still, he says:
Saving the environment and the remaining species diversity of the planet is now your mindset. Nothing is more important than saving them. The Lions, Tigers, Giraffes, Elephants, Froggies, Turtutles, Apes, Raccoons, Beetles, Ants, Sharks, Bears, and, of course, the Squirrels.
Really? Froggies? "And, of course, the Squirrels"? Dude, you don't know the rain of acorns I'm enduring on my deck from the Squirrels already.
Lee goes so far in his opening paragraph to suggest a specific show, in fact a game show to advance the ideas of not giving birth. It would involve "leading scientists who understand ... the problem of human population."
He also urges that the network "MAKE IT INTERESTING SO PEOPLE WATCH AND APPLY SOLUTIONS!!!!"
Ah, as an actual TV critic I can tell you, that's all much easier demanded than done.
And imagine him making this pitch (for a game show!) while a bomb is strapped to him and he's got three hostages. Worst pitch session ever.
Of course his list of demands are full of all sorts of crazy stuff indicating a deeply disturbed mind. It's surprisingly similar to the manifesto of Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, who demanded major newspapers print it or he'd bomb so more (and 15 years ago this month, the New York Times and Washington Post did print it). Kaczynski was railing against the advancement of the modern world's "industrial-technological system." And began his screed by saying "the Industrial Revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race."
Lee, oddly, also mentions the Industrial Revolution in his first paragraph, but instead praised it as a time when solutions were found "by people building on each other's inventive ideas."
How often does the Industrial Revolution come up in conversations of modern society? And what has happened to the Unabomber?
Well, he's the featured subject of William Shatner's new talk show series Aftermath, airing Monday on the Biography Channel, which, in case you're wondering, is one of the Discovery networks, too.