I realize that this recent news report out of Georgia is probably not a big deal.
Journalists had little cause to ask a few questions that some might consider a bit paranoid. After all, we are talking about bullet holes in a church, not a mosque.
Plus, Georgia is way down in Bible Belt country. There are lots of people down there with guns, to be sure, but not many who are likely to be violently angry about the many, many negative news headlines (think Syria, wiretaps, Vladimir Putin, etc.) linked to Russia.
There is some chance that those crazy Southerners where just, you know, running around shooting guns in the air, because they do things like that. However, these maybe-random shots happened as Christmas -- using the Gregorian date, Dec. 25th -- was approaching, as opposed to taking place during the often wild festivities of New Year's Eve.
So here is what happened, to cut to the chase. This short, short story -- "Church finds bullet holes through building, welcome sign" -- comes from the Fox 5 channel:
FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. -- Forsyth County deputies are searching for the vandals who shot a church’s sign and house of worship.
“I hope it’s teenagers. I don’t see it being something more than that, it would be more troubling,” said Father Eugene Antonov of the Joy of All Who Sorrow Russian Orthodox Church.
Church members discovered multiple bullet holes through walls of their house of worship under construction, the windows and the front welcome sign.
“I hope somebody would understand, they did a very bad, very dangerous thing,” Father Antonov said, who was glad the bullets did not strike him or his family. He lives in a house next door and holds liturgies at the smaller building on the property.
There are, of course, questions that could be asked if journalists clicked their mouses a few times online.
I would start with this question: Were the words on that church sign -- the one with the bullet holes in it -- written in Russian as well as English?
Here's why I ask. This little news story does note that the church's liturgical name is Joy of All Who Sorrow Russian Orthodox Church, with the word Russian in the title.
However, if you take a few seconds to visit the church website you'll find out that this is a parish in the very conservative and traditional branch of Eastern Orthodoxy known as the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. Note that quite a bit of the website is in Russian. This is, for example, a parish that would be observing Christmas on Jan. 7th, following the older Julian calendar.
Now, there is no need for a church history lesson at this point. However, this detail matters.
I would be stunned if this church's exterior signs were not written in Russian, as well as English. That would look rather different on a road in the deep South.
If vandals had taken shots at a religious facility with signs in Arabic, would journalists be asking any extra questions about that? Would that incident have drawn more than a few paragraphs on one or two news sites in the Atlanta area?
Hey, what if someone had taken several shots at a mosque in, oh, Murfreesboro, Tenn.? What if the damaged sign contained writing in Arabic? Any chance that reporters might probe possible ties to Islamophobia?
Now, this short story does add this comment:
Deputies in Forsyth County said there have been no threatening incidents against the church throughout its many years in the county, and believe that people around the church’s rural area may have recklessly fired their guns.
That's that, maybe. And multiple reckless shots just happened to hit the church sign and then the church. After all, there's no reason to think that anyone would be mad at Russians right now. Right?