Friday, September 3, 2010

James Lee was my friend

On Wednesday September 1st James Lee entered a building belonging to the Discovery Channel Television Network. James had a radical environmentalist manifesto that railed against human population among other things. A hostage standoff ensued and James was eventually shot to death by police.
I grew up with James Lee. I knew him from the 3rd grade and graduated from Lahainaluna High School with him in 1985. When I met him in 3rd grade I first noticed his voice was always a little lazy sounding as if he was half asleep. He and I hung out sometimes though because we were both socially awkward and we both liked Star Wars. Over the years we were sometimes friends, sometimes not. He often gave me comic books that he didn’t want any more and thought I would like. He became very good at drawing comic book characters and I still have a picture of The Punisher that he drew for me. I remember another time however when a friend and I tried to convince him that he had a lover’s crush on First Daughter, Amy Carter. He became so frustrated that he was beside himself with rage. He pointed a finger to my friend and me and rasped that we would pay. He sounded like a supervillan, but it actually frightened us.
I remember walking home from school with James at least once or twice. We talked about the next Star Wars film coming out soon. Then we went to our separate homes. I never visited James’s home. In a letter he wrote to a federal judge in 2003 he described himself as a miserable loner who spent his childhood alone in his room. I think that is an accurate picture.
I haven’t seen James Lee for 25 years but in some ways he did not change. He was always socially awkward and seemed cynical and angry. After graduation I guess he continued a lonely life and it must have really hurt. I won’t pretend to understand his motivation for a manifesto so hateful against human population. But the James Lee I knew wasn’t passionate about the environment; he just didn’t care for people.
I am shocked and sad by this event. It seems completely senseless and has nothing to edify me or anything I can write here. I am only sad that he is gone and in many ways was never here.

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