Zach Dasher, the Duck Dynasty relative and Louisiana congressional candidate, has lashed back at media reports that he blames the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre on atheists. Dasher told the online publication The Blaze that those media reports were “dishonest.”
“It was a soundbite put in a way to give the impression that I was blaming Sandy Hook on atheists,” Dasher, a nephew of Duck Dynasty family patriarch Phil Robertson, said in an interview appearing on The Blaze site. “I’m not suggesting that all atheists are evil or that all religious people are good. There’s good people in both groups.”
But despite his attempt to walk back the comments in which he said that Sandy Hook killer Adam Lanza was an atheist who “saw himself as nothing more than chemicals,” Dasher left the door open for atheists to take the blame for the December 14, 2012 mass shooting in which Lanza, a 20-year-old who had previously been diagnosed with several psychiatric disorders, gunned down 20 schoolchildren, six adults and his own mother before killing himself.
“I would say that I’m not blaming Sandy Hook on [atheists],” the Duck Dynasty candidate, running against incumbent Republican Vance McAllister in Louisiana’s 5th district. “I would ask them to give us something in their worldview that would provide a objective moral obligation to prohibit this from happening.”
In fact, philosophers throughout history have written at length about moral codes and obligations without any reference to God or divine edicts. For example, 18th-century German philosopher Immanuel Kant saw morality as determined by what he called the “Categorical Imperative,” which meant basically that the only moral actions were those which rational humans could propose as become universal laws.
In the 19th century, the English philosopher and political figure John Stuart Mill argued that the principle of “utilitarianism” is the foundation of moral behavior. That is, Mill defined moral actions as those that serve the greater good of increasing overall human happiness.
The history of Western — and Eastern — thought contains numerous other examples of moral systems that would condemn mass murder without reference to God.
The Duck Dynasty family member’s original comments about the Sandy Hook massacre came in a podcast entitled “Why Did This Happen?” In the podcast, Dasher dismissed claims that the mental illness of killer Adam Lanza had anything to do with the Sandy Hook massacre the he committed, instead saying the Lanza deliberately “rejected reality,” a rejection promoted by the “atheist agenda.”