William “Bill” Chumley: S.C. State Rep. Implied that Emanuel AME Church Shooting Victims at Fault; A Day Later Issued “Apology”

South Carolina State Representative William “Bill” Chumley (R-35th District) envisions a world where battle and conflict are the norm. As such, everybody is supposed to be armed and ready to kill at any time and at any place. Such is the necessary conclusion when he stated (on June 23, 2015 during a CNN interview) that the victims -participating in a Bible study-should have been armed.

The issue I have with Mr. Chumley is his use of double talk. He starts his response by asking for focus on the victims’ families. Then, immediately after that, Mr Chumley proceeds to attack the victims, stating that they were “waiting their turn to be shot.” Just where did Mr. Chumley get this account? It was not noted in witness accounts provided to the news media. Such a baseless charge at the time of death and grieving is heartless.

Further, the so-called apology (issued on June 24, 2015, to the South Carolina newspaper, the Post and Courier) is just a rewording of the statement–instead of waiting their turn to be shot, the statement provided that “it is painfully regrettable that someone was not able to intervene in this demented killer’s life to stop him right up to the moment he squeezed the trigger.

June 23, 2015 June 24, 2015
“We need to be focusing on the nine families that are left and see that this doesn’t happen again. These people sat in there and waited their turn to be shot. That’s sad that somebody in there with the means of self-defense could have stopped this.”

“I don’t know what the answer was but I know it’s really horrible for nine people to be shot, and I understand that he reloaded his gun during the process. That’s upsetting.”

“I deeply regret using those words and giving that impression,” he said. “My view, which I was clumsily trying to express, was that it is painfully regrettable that someone was not able to intervene in this demented killer’s life to stop him right up to the moment he squeezed the trigger.

“Please let me be clear: The responsibility for the despicable murders in Charleston rests solely on the murderer. If any of my remarks suggested differently, I am deeply sorry.”

This is not an apology (that is words or regret and asking for forgiveness) at all; Mr. Chumley is casting aspersions on the victims and preaching more of the same in more media-palatable language. That it took nearly 24 hours for this statement to be delivered is notable.

With such deep-seated and saccharine disregard in South Carolina politics, discussions about a way forward from this tragedy may be perilous and results resulting from such discussions pusillanimous.

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