All in a Day’s Work: The James Jae Lee Ordeal

Man holds hostages at Discovery TV building – U.S. news – Crime & courts –

UPDATED: James Jae Lee, Discovery building gunman, is dead.


I had a feeling when I woke up this morning that September would usher in some drama. It never fails.

So when I checked my BlackBerry this afternoon and saw a news alert reporting that a gunman was inside the Discovery Channel Building, I didn’t think much of it. I actually thought it might have been another stunt being pulled by somebody in Manhattan.  *shrugs*

That all changed when I got wind of the breaking news on MSNBC.  And the backstory was what really caught my attention, making me do the Kermit the Frog face that my friends say I do so well.


Listen.  It’s bad enough that today’s working stiff has to put up with an increased workload, longer and more grueling workdays,  a longer commute, no more raises or bonuses, no holiday parties, and indifferent co-workers (I’m being nice here). 

But honestly, is it too much to ask to not be held hostage on Hump Day?


According to news reports, this guy, James Jae Lee, was a bit of a loose cannon and a fixture at the Discovery Channel headquarters in suburban Maryland.  He made it his life’s mission to protest outside this building, being categorized as an eco-warrior (huh?), with his 15-point manifesto on what it will take to save the planet. Now, this may have been a small detail that the security team at the Discovery HQ, or even the Silver Spring, MD police failed to pick upon…but this guy basically felt that humans needed to go in order to save the planet!!

He felt so strongly about this, and was such a nuisance to the good folks at the Discovery Channel, that he was arrested and convicted in 2008 for, frankly, being a nuisance and a danger to others. 

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am all for people and their causes and their right to freedom of speech and freedom to assemble peacefully.  But do they ever stop to think that there are people working in these buildings and that they don’t have the right to put hard-working Americans in harm’s way?

I’m sure these people didn’t wake up and say,

“Yay!! I can’t wait to get to work today!  Hopefully that wacko guy who likes to protest outside the building will finally snap, commandeer the building, brandish firearms and explosive devices, take three of my co-workers hostage, and basically make me wish that I called in sick!!”

 Yeah.  I’ve had days like that.

What I want to know is, Why didn’t anyone take this guy seriously?  I mean, remember the guy basically hated human beings and felt that the planet would be better off without us. So it wasn’t really a stretch of the imagination that maybe, just maybe, he would strap up like Rambo and come back to gently persuade folks to give him one last listen.

The good folks who are responsible for the safety of the Discovery Channel employees and staff FAILED.  Thank goodness no one got hurt.

But this is one more example pointing to how the establishment has failed the average American, particularly the average GenXer who tends to work for places like the Discovery Channel.  The establishment failed James Jae Lee by not paying attention to the warning signs.  Now he’s dead. I feel bad for him, but what about the employees who work there, saw this guy, laughed and joked about him, and now realize that he was actually serious?

Like I said, thank goodness no one got hurt.  But when are people going to wake up and take this type of stuff seriously? People are hurting, for whatever reason, and I understand this, but American workers are hurting, too.  And it’s unfair to expect us to keep putting up with situations like this, situations that could have easily been averted. 

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. DarrenKeith3 says:

    Great article, love this. 🙂

    What Lee did was wrong but you hit on a key point, people today just don’t care. It’s sad but now when I see stories like this the first thing that comes to mind is, “Okay, what person at the Discovery Channel say to him to push him over the edge.” In today’s world people truly feel they can say anything to another person and think there are no consequences for their words. We live in a day that people think they can treat you like dirt and then think you still suppose to treat them like royalty.

    Again, what Lee did was wrong but I’ve learned that many times when an incident goes down is that we only see a “Polaroid” snapshot and not the beginning and the end of a situation.

    1. Thanks for the love, bro. Let me respond to your last point:

      Again, what Lee did was wrong but I’ve learned that many times when an incident goes down is that we only see a “Polaroid” snapshot and not the beginning and the end of a situation.

      Very true, very true. However, there were many clues pointing to this being a serious problem that could potentially escalate into a disaster. He had a website outlining his manifesto and strong feelings against humanity. He had a criminal history. He was seen frequently protesting outside the Discovery Channel HQ. Law enforcement and the legal community had a responsibility to deal with this situation before it erupted into what we watched on TV yesterday.

      And, frankly, the Discovery Channel had a responsibility to its employees to ensure their safety, and they failed, too.

      As photographers, we understand that a picture (or as you say, a Polaroid) is worth a thousand words. It’s all in how you read them. Too many people failed in this case. Thankfully it didn’t turn out nearly as bad as it could have. Thank God for that.

  2. 乳膠床墊 says:

    Good!!! Bookmarked this page that has this amazing content. Will come back to see if there are any updates. You, the author, are a master. Thanks

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