During an appearance on the National Rifle Association's radio show, conservative radio host Tony Katz said relatives of the victims of the Charleston church shooting showed “serious weakness” in forgiving the accused gunman and suggested that it would be justifiable to kill members of the gunman's family out of retribution.
On June 19 several family members of victims killed in a June 17 mass shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, attended the first court appearance of the alleged gunman and forgave the man for killing members of their family.
Hours later Katz, who makes regular Friday appearances on the NRA program Cam & Company, reacted to the court appearance by calling the move to forgive not “a moment of strength” but rather “a moment of serious weakness that we do not respond with a 'you don't get to kill us, we kill you.'”
Katz continued, “As a matter of fact, we kill you tenfold, who's in your family today?” -- putting forward the suggestion that the family members of accused murderers should be murdered themselves in retribution.
He concluded by calling his reaction -- which included advocacy for the killing of innocent people -- “far more natural and in many ways far more decent than sometimes the reactions I see.” Host Cam Edwards responded, “All right, far more natural I might agree with, far more decent, I don't -- I'm going to have to disagree with you there.”
KATZ: Now we know me and we know you and others who may think about being attacked and put ourselves in positions not to be or at least be able to fight back, but that's what I come to and I get the fact, I get it, not everybody is going to agree with me, but I think that my reaction is far more natural and in many ways far more decent than sometimes the reactions I see.
EDWARDS: All right, far more natural I might agree with, far more decent, I don't -- I'm going to have to disagree with you there.
Katz previously appeared on NRA News to criticize the victims of several calamities, including Hurricane Katrina, for not doing enough to save themselves from death or injury.
Katz is not the first conservative figure to criticize those affected by the Charleston shooting. In a June 18 post on a pro-gun web forum, NRA board member Charles L. Cotton wrote that the victims “died because of” Reverend Clementa Pinckney's advocacy for gun safety laws. Pinckney was also killed in the attack.
During the June 24 broadcast of Tony Katz and the Morning News on 93.1 WIBC, Katz addressed his June 19 comments he made on NRA News about the Charleston shooting victims' family members forgiving the gunman. Katz said that he was “sickened,” “disgusted,” and “very bothered” by the forgiveness shown to the alleged perpetrator, but also said it was “probably wrong” of him to characterize the forgiveness given by victims' family members as “weakness” and that he was not “entitled” to say so.
He also said, “I think I did a poor job of pivoting, which has happened to me before, and I don't believe in hiding these things. I don't believe in saying, 'Oh, it's just one conversation, it's no big deal.' And some people will tell me, 'Tony, you dwell on this stuff too much.' I believe that if we're going to be honest with each other the only way to do that is to when you think you don't do it right, or you don't do it clearly, you go back and do it clearly. Let me say it again, and I don't apologize for what I said, I'm going to go for clarity. I look at forgiveness of somebody who murders your family not as a virtue. I look at it and I say, 'I don't get it.'”
Katz also talked about his suggestion that it would be acceptable to murder members of the gunman's family out of retribution. During his June 19 appearance on NRA News, Katz said, “We do not respond with a 'you don't get to kill us, we kill you.' As a matter of fact, we kill you tenfold, who's in your family today?” During his June 24 WIBC broadcast, Katz said, “One of the non-journalistic organizations of the world, Media Matters for America, picked it up they called me bloodthirsty because they were discussing how I'm proactively wishing that these family members would go out and kill the family members of this murderer, Dylann Roof. Which is not-- it, it goes to a much larger conversation that I have, and that conversation is about being prepared for moments and being a society in which those who wish to do harm, because you can't stop people from doing harm if they really want to, you can't stop the sick, you can't stop the demented, but those who want to do harm, they should at least have to question whether or not they should do it to you.”
Katz's full discussion of his comments: