Early morning in Berlin NPR’s news feed announced a shooting in Orlando, “details to follow”.
You know the feeling, the urge to turn over in bed and hope it’s a dream that will disappear. You know it from Killeen Texas and, San Ysidro, Newtown, San Bernardino and Aurora. Oh, God. Not again. It’s not real. No. No. No. But it is real. Statistics follow, then gleanings from the FBI or local authorities regarding the shooter’s profile and motivation, interviews with stunned witnesses and terrified family and friends still hoping that their loved ones are in the hospital rather than the morgue.
The still befuddled early morning media suggested an ISIS attack confounded by homophobia. ISIS took credit late, the LGBT speakers and their friends credited it to gay hate. (correctly) Subsequent reports indicated the shooter’s earlier visits to the club, complicating the “Why?” of the tragedy. Some of us cried.
Our President spoke words of sorrow, anger and regret. Aspirants to his job, all of them, exploited the events to underline their political standpoints and add to their electoral credibility. Only now are Baptist pastors and a few politicians crawling out from under their stones to suggest God’s justice. The rest of us follow our social media feeds and wonder and argue and despair once again. A few of us take to Twitter and Facebook or whichever Social Media to defend their perceived second amendment rights. The funerals have not yet taken place. Many of the injured are still critical and may die.
Talk shows opine. Two talking heads British broadcast suggested that the attack was not against the gay community but humanity in general, prompting Owen Jones, a gay journalist, to walk off the show.
In a few weeks we will all move on. Actually not we. I won’t and the people directly connected to Orlando, Aurora, Newton, Santa Barbara and the rest of the assaults will not. I know this because I’ve been there, so I understand the long term impact of mad men with guns, even with the best possible outcome. Neither will the politicians, nor will 2nd Amendment defenders, or the NRA. I obsess about gun laws, so please allow.
The Pulse shootings were not the worst attack on Gay People ever. Hitler deserves that credit, and innumerable fundamentalist despots have been good runners up. It was our worst attack, although on a long time scale America has been no slouch in vilifying and persecuting our gay citizens when we thought them vulnerable. We have killed our share of mockingbirds. It was unthinkable and no accident. The assassin’s fire had been well primed by ongoing vilification.
About that question: “Why?”
Did the assassin frequent Pulse because he, too, was gay or to case the club for the shooting. Authorities also question or reject outright his ISIS connections instead suggesting that he fanatically followed a number of extreme organizations.
He needed and easily found a target for his burning rage in the ambient media culture, and in radical Islamism a social matrix to give him the courage and justification to act on his impulses. He needed and found easily both a target and social justification. With the vastness of homophobic venom available on the WWW and within the lunacy of Radical Islamism, Anti gay rhetoric is quickly found. Islamic cultism, too, is available and supportive, but still, fortunately few homophobes spend their Friday nights slaughtering gay Latinos,
That’s all too simplistic. Lacking the exposure to the radical chat rooms and whatever issues he may or may not have with gay culture, I’d wager the shooter would have found another outlet for his rage. A room full of teenage girls, a Jewish restaurant, a theater. The media and the politicians focus on triggers. Triggers are not causes.
1) Because the killer was a psychotic maniac.
2) Because he could. He had the instruments with which to act on his impulses. To be specific guns. More specifically military weapons. He had them because no gun laws have passed Congress despite the glaring need to stop attacks like Sandy Hook and San Bernardino.
Congress and our presidential candidates are going once again to beat the question of background checks to a nasty pulp before not passing them again. More than half of armed mass murderers, however, purchased their fire arms legally are received them from people who did. An unsettling number of them are described as their neighbors as really nice guys. Who knew?
Discussion about dealing with the mentally ill will also be loud. Identify the mentally ill and don’t let them have guns. Brilliant.
Gun enthusiasts (“enthusiasm”. an odd word for supporting instruments of death) and the NRA will wave Second Amendment flags. Just like the last time and the NRA will threaten congressional candidates with disapproval if they speak ill of weapons. You know. We’ve heard it many times before.
Garbage. With the most stringent controls of potential radical Islamacists and lunatics, not mutually exclusive, it would be impossible to identify every loose cannon, and even known loose cannons in America can get guns if they have an itch to scratch with a blood bath. Even if you can identify potentially dangerous individuals, mental illness is a moving target which can enter a life quickly. Speaking of American freedoms, the only way to come near to catching nascent emotional disruptions would be to subject every citizen to a psychological exam before awarding a driver’s license. Even when a potential threat is identified, our ineffective law enforcement systems by no way guarantee that he will be disarmed Mental illness is the straw-man.
There was another verifiable ISIS related assassination in France the day after the Pulse massacre. The killer armed with a knife took two victims. Two in Paris. Forty-nine in Orlando. Do the math.
Had he possessed a gun, he could have emptied out another restaurant or a night club. Fortunately for Paris, weapons are hard to come by there, making impetuous or even well planned bloodletting much more difficult.
Fact: Extreme weapons are easy to get in America, if you want them. Not just pistols and hunting rifles but weapons designed to annihilate enemy forces efficiently and equally as effective against gay partiers and kindergarten children.
Opinion: They shouldn’t be. We’ve heard all the specious NRA spewed arguments about your rights and civil liberties and that you don’t need powerful automatic weapon capable of felling fifty lovely people is not a reason that you shouldn’t have one. Bull Shit.
Right now your Representatives who are in thrall to the NRA and people you know and possibly you if you support or do not actively reject any of this crap are bemoaning the tragic death of so many sons and daughters and husbands and wives and friends, parents and lovers. They/Possibly you are praying for Orlando. Your pastor who will not marry gay couples is deploring the needless violence and urging love, even towards gay parishioners.
If you have figured out that the problem is not crazy people then the following is not aimed at you. Read it anyway. You’ll like it. If you haven’t figured out that crazy people don’t kill rooms full of people. Crazy people with guns kill rooms full of people, then it is for you. Read it. You need it.
How gracious. And now, shut the fuck up.
They/possibly you don’t get to send prayers. Or give blood or even money.
They/possibly you don’t get to express sympathy or solidarity.
Nobody who condones extreme weapons does. Nor does anyone who entertains media or anything questioning the equality of any person because of what he or she is. This attack could have targeted Muslims, Jews, Latinos or women, had the murder’s hate been directed at another group. The LGBT community unfortunately enjoys the distinction of being at the top of the visible hatable vindictive of terrible voices. (Trump could change that).
No politicians or civil servants get to deploringly exploit the event until they do something to resolve the crisis. It’s time to demand intestinal fortitude from elected officials.
No hypocritical moments of silence.
You have no standing in this matter. At all. You recover it when you withhold your vote from any candidate without the courage to reject the NRA election lock, when you quit listening to the drivel of Trump and talk show hosts about Latinos, Muslims, LGBT persons or anyone who isn’t like you and you tell your assault weapon owning friends that you don’t approve of them. Not until Congress rethinks the American gun crisis do they get to hold a moment of silence. Because you share the burden of all of the deaths from all of the massacres in the country. It is your fault.
Two dead in Paris. 49 in Orlando. One knife. Two guns, one of them an assault rifle. Do the math. Then shut up.