There’s an annual event held in Washington, ever since 1909, called the Congressional Baseball Game.  Proceeds from the event are donated to charity and the players are members of Congress.  There’s a team of Republicans and their opponents are Democrats.

For years, members of those teams have practiced in Alexandria, Virginia at a residential ball diamond next to the YMCA.  The public has always been welcome to watch Congressmen and Senators practice for the charitable event.

On Wednesday, June 14, 2017, twenty-six members of Congress were practicing their fielding skills and taking batting practice that morning around 7 AM.  66-year-old James Hodgkinson of Illinois was watching that morning.  Little did anyone know he had murderous discourse pulsing through his veins that day.  As Representative Jeff Duncan of South Carolina was exiting the field Hodgkinson stopped him to ask: “Who are those people on the field?”  Rep. Duncan replied: “It’s the Congressional baseball team.”  Hodgkinson then asked if they were Republicans or Democrats.  The Representative then said: “It’s the Republican team.”

Sometime after that Hodgkinson took cover behind the third-base dugout, just outside the fence, and began to open fire at those on the field.  He fired an estimated 50 to 100 rounds, wounding four people.

One of those wounded, while playing second base, was House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana.  Only members of the House and Senate leadership have Capitol Police protection.  That morning, Representative Scalise had a detail of protection who engaged Hodgkinson and began returning fire to protect those under assault.

A man walking his dog nearby heard the gunfire and heard the Capitol Police officers tell the man to drop his weapon, but he also heard those taking cover in the dugout scream “Just shoot him!”

Both officers were reportedly wounded by Hodgkinson as he maneuvered around to the backstop to get a better line of fire at those hiding in the dugout.  One of the representative’s son, a 10-year-old, was the ball boy that day and Congressmen and Senators hid him under the bench to protect him from the hail of bullets.

When Hodgkinson stepped out from behind the backstop to get a bead on those in the dugout the Capitol Police took him out; the gunmen later died of his injuries.

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who was taking practice swings, said: “We were like sitting ducks.”  “It was like a killing field.”  “If the Capital Police would not have been there it would’ve been a massacre!”

It was later learned that James Hodgkinson had been a home inspector, and he had a few run-ins with the law for battery, resisting arrest, and drunk driving.  He was also a political activist.

Although political discourse isn’t anything new, it seems to be escalating in ferocity anymore.

When does the discourse of thought step over the line?  It does when characters like James Hodgkinson dwell on hateful thoughts in their heads and view fellow Americans as the enemy.

A female comedian recently thought it might be humorous to make a video of her parading around with the likeness of a bloodsoaked Donald Trump head in hand.  The comedian admitted later she stepped over the line, but there’s nothing humorous about discourse like that.  Call it free speech or not, there’s no place in society for such despicable things.

A college professor in Georgia recently said: “All Republicans need to be lined up and shot.”  It’s unclear if the University did anything to reprimand that supposed educator.  Another college professor in California told students Donald Trump should be hung.  Again, it’s unclear if any disciplinary action by that professor’s employer was taken.

When professors speak their minds like that, comedians act out their thoughts on stage, or political activists act on what they harbor in their minds it’s hate they entertain.  If they claim to be joking around, I don’t believe they are.

Hate shouldn’t be tolerated in the colleges of America, on the airwaves, in the workplace, or in the marketplace.  Hatred is what got JFK and his brother Bobby assassinated.  When Martin Luther King Jr. saw injustice he tried to do something about it and hatred swelled in the heart of his assassin.  Hitler wanted to rule the world and he convinced many the Jewish people were an inferior race and millions of poor souls were extinguished because of the hate Adolph dwelled upon.

Call hate for what it is.  Don’t tolerate or promote such things.  Tune out those who dwell on those un-American things.

Greg Allen’s column, Thinkin’ Out Loud, was published bi-monthly from 2009 to 2017.  He’s an author, a former nationally syndicated columnist and the founder of Builder of the Spirit Ministries in Jamestown, Indiana.  He can be reached at

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