A terrorist took the life of a radical French right winger yesterday. That the terrorist and the victim were one and the same does not mitigate the tragedy.

Dominique Venner was a 78 year-old historian and former member of a French nationalist terrorist organization, the “Organisation de l’Arme Secrete” (Organization of the Secret Army) that was formed to scuttle Charles de Gaulle’s emancipation of French-held Algiers. Venner was vigorously opposed to gay marriage, and apparently shot himself in the head in Notre Dame Cathedral on Tuesday as a protest against France’s recent legalization of gay marriage.

I knew nothing of Venner before this, and my initial reaction was to hope that he would inspire more such suicides amongst right wingers everywhere. But I have reconsidered.

First of all, there is the danger that this act will succeed in its real intent of inspiring brutality against innocents,–“new, spectacular, and symbolic actions to rouse people from their complacency” as Venner put it in what amounts to his suicide blog.

And there is also the fact that this vicious stroke of hatred was no different in its character than terrorism carried out against any civilian. It was pointless, stupid, and fueled by a belief in the redemptive power of violence. We should pity Dominique Venner for the clod he chose to leave this world as.