James Lee, killed in Discovery Channel hostage crisis, reminiscent of Unabomber

James Lee, who police say was responsible for the Discovery Channel hostage crisis in Silver Spring, Md., Wednesday, was shot and killed. Lee has said human population growth imperils the planet.

By , Staff writer

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    This frame grab from MySpace.com shows the page of James J. Lee, the gunman killed Wednesday following a hostage episode at the Discovery Channel headquarters in Silver Spring, Md. Lee was reportedly an 'environmental extremist' who objected to the Discovery Channel's programming.
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The man who entered the Discovery Channel headquarters in Silver Spring, Md., with a handgun and what appeared to be explosives Wednesday, taking several hostages, is being described in news reports as an “environmental activist.”

If so, his ideology is reminiscent of the infamous “Unabomber” – Theodore Kaczynski, now serving life in prison for a series of mail bombings that killed three people and injured 23 others.

The man in the Discovery Channel episode, identified by law enforcement officials as James J. Lee, apparently held beliefs similar to Kaczynski: that human population growth and modern industrial development imperil the planet.

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Several hours after the episode began, Mr. Lee reportedly was shot and killed by sniper. Three hostages were released unharmed.

“The debate about the state of the planet is done,” Lee writes on his web site. “Global Warming is a reality. The massive extinction of animals is happening all over the world. Now let us begin the debate on how to save the planet. We can’t wait anymore, something must be done immediately! Let’s act on it right away; let this be a new chapter in the earth’s history. As human beings we must join together to save it.”

Lee’s focus on the Discovery Channel is not new.

For several years, he had been protesting outside the company’s headquarters, carrying signs and placards critical of the channel’s programming. In March 2008, he was fined $500 and given six months supervised probation on a charge of disorderly conduct. The judge in the case ordered him to stay 500 feet away from Discovery Communications.

But apparently that did not deter him from continuing his critical focus on the Discovery Channel and its programming.

“The Discovery Channel is a big part of the problem, not the solution,” he wrote. “Instead of showing successful solutions, their broadcast programs seem to be doing the opposite. Shows like ‘Cash Cab’ and ‘Dirty Jobs’ serve as diversions to keep the focus off what is really important, which is Global Warming and Animal Extinction. Why do they broadcast a show like “Future Weapons” that only promise to destroy the planet even more? And their new lineup “Planet Green” is all about more products and other substandard solutions.”

Among Lee’s demands: "All programs on Discovery Health-TLC must stop encouraging the birth of any more parasitic human infants and the false heroics behind those actions. In those programs' places, 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."

Most of the 1,900 Discovery employees had been evacuated before police negotiations began.

Discovery Communications includes the Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Science Channel, and Planet Green networks. Discovery Communications officials could not be reached regarding the hostage episode or Lee’s angry manifesto against the company.

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