Image: James Jay Lee
James Lee protested outside Discovery Communications headquarters in Silver Springs, Md. in 2008. He vehemently believed the company's programming was not doing enough to save the environment.
updated 9/1/2010 7:05:25 PM ET 2010-09-01T23:05:25

James J. Lee, the suspected gunman who held three hostages for hours at the Discovery Communications building in Maryland on Wednesday, apparently had a long history of contempt for the company, which includes the Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Science Channel and Planet Green networks.

His website,, was essentially a rambling screed against Discovery, urging the company to expose civilization "for the filth it is" and to puts its focus on "how people can live WITHOUT giving birth to more filthy human children since those new additions continue pollution and are pollution."

Then, almost as a business-like afterthought, it said: "A game show format contest would be in order."

Lee, reportedly 43, was shot dead by police hours after a standoff began. He had entered the Silver Springs building with explosive devices. The building was a familiar venue to him: He was was a well-known protester at the site, and was sentenced to six months of supervised probation for disorderly conduct in March 2008.

The SaveThePlanetProtest website list of "demands" is prefaced by this statement: "The Discovery Channel MUST broadcast to the world their commitment to save the planet and to do the following IMMEDIATELY."

Among the icy orders he issued: "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."

Police kill Discovery building gunman

Lee had a page on MySpace, where there were 130 "friends" listed.

Image: "My Ishmael" book cover
Bantam Books
Suspected gunman James J. Lee cites this book as one of his inspirations and guiding forces regarding the environment and evolution.

In one of his last postings there, from 2006, he referenced the same book, "My Ishmael," by Daniel Quinn, that he did on his website. The book is about a gorilla named Ishmael who explains his philosophy about tribal society to a little girl.

"The Discovery Channel and it's affiliate channels MUST have daily television programs at prime time slots based on Daniel Quinn's 'My Ishmael' pages 207-212 where solutions to save the planet would be done in the same way as the Industrial Revolution was done, by people building on each other's inventive ideas," Lee wrote.

Hostage situation unfolds real-time on Twitter

Reached Wednesday, author Quinn said he has never been in touch with James Lee; "what his take on the book is, I don't know," Quinn said. "It's hard to imagine how he got from reading this book to his current behavior. It certainly puzzles me."

This video is believed to show a “cash throw” protest held by James Lee in front of the Discovery Channel headquarters, Feb. 21, 2008.

And at another point, on his website, Lee's anger at Discovery was palpable. If Discovery's "'environmental' shows are actually working, then why is the news about the environment getting worse?" he wrote. "It should be getting better if they were doing their job and we should be seeing that reflected on the nightly news. But NO! The Discovery Channel is actually not about saving the planet, they are just another ‘green’ corporation whose real interests lies in MONEY! Products! Junk! Trash!"

In planning a February 2008 protest of Discovery headquarters, Lee exchanged messages in a chat room about the event, and aperson participating in the discussion expressed concern about Lee's anger: "Lee, seriously, are you going to hurt the discovery (sic) people? It kinds of seems like you're going in that direction?"

Lee, writing as "misterfifteen," answered that it would be a "peaceful protest." He added: "I suppose ALL Asians are (Seung Hui Cho's) now to you," referencing the Virginia Tech student who killed 32 students and himself in April 2007.

Video of the February 2008 incident on YouTube

The DCist, a Web site that covers the D.C. area, made light of the protest in a story at that time.

"Sometime last week a friend of DCist sent in this rather hilarious website promoting what appears to be a one-man crusade and protest against the Silver Spring, Md.-based Discovery Channel. As you can see, the singularly named 'Lee,' with his faux-tough mug shot and all-caps, is dishing out a little of the old insane rambling on the cable network to promote his 'Save the Planet Protest Against the Discovery Channel.' "

A video allegedly created by James Lee as an introduction for a TV show concept from the “SaveThePlanetProtest” YouTube channel.

In a proposal Lee made for a Discovery "reality" game show he dubbed "Race to Save the Planet," Lee said on his website that the format would include comments by an "evolutionary biologist" who would say that "automobiles in themselves contribute nothing to evolution in itself, since driving cars makes people fat, lazy, and mentally unfit."

A check of records shows that Lee lived in many places around the country over the years, including Washington, D.C., the Seattle area, San Diego, Los Angeles and Hawaii.

On his MySpace page, Lee noted that he refused to "read anything that is not directly related to the overpopulation problem and global warming. I am searching history for clues that could save the planet. I still am baffled why this is happening. It seems impossible. I am awaiting some nature videos that I ordered."

He added: "I remember a question I posed to a religious friend some time ago, that if we were all 'meant' to act a certain way, then why do animals act the way they do? Why do they die? Can't they be 'saved' as well. What I got was a definite 'no.' "

And in what was perhaps a chilling foreshadow, he wrote: "I absolutely hate it when someone tells me 'no' or 'it can't be done' or 'that's just the way it is.' "'s Alan Boyle, Alex Johnson, Helen A.S. Popkin and Bob Sullivan contributed to this report.

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