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Friday, June 17, 2016

Our Common Humanity

This is a follow up to my last blog. Two commenters have suggested I should have mentioned the sexual orientation of the victims. And one friend strongly reacted to my failure to focus on the fact most of the victims were gay and were targeted while they were at a gay night club.

Let me first say I am sorry for any offense to my friends and readers. I meant no disrespect to the LGBT community in not addressing the sexual orientation of many of the victims. I strongly believe all people regardless of their sexual orientation, race, religion, gender or other characteristics are entitled to the same respect and full human and legal rights.

I also agree the Orlando mass murders were a hate crime. But I need to add--so was the mass murder of African-American Christians in Charleston, South Carolina. And what about the mass murders of kindergarteners and their teachers in Newtown, Connecticut? Was that not some type of hate crime?

I won’t list all of the mass murders in the U.S. There are too many and too many supposed reasons. All mass murders are hateful abominations we should try to prevent. We all bleed and die when shot by automatic weapons. We all grieve when our loved ones are killed. 

I reject the analysis that the murderers’ rationales, and thus the identity of those who were killed, should be our main concern. Just as I deliberately do not mention the mass murderers’ names, I think focusing on the possible motives of mass murderers’ gives them too much attention. And is not the most useful way to prevent future such attacks.

Trying to make sense of crazy is a waste of time. The Orlando mass murderer claimed allegiance to ISIS. He is reported to also have claimed he was connected with al Qaeda and Hezbollah; he said he hated Americans, Blacks, gays, women and Jews. 

He apparently cased this gay nightclub and also Disney World. One survivor with multiple guns shot wounds said on the evening news that while she and others were trapped in a bathroom with the shooter he asked if anyone was Black. She then repeated his words, “I wasn’t trying to shoot anyone who was Black. They’ve suffered enough already.”  The survivor who was shot three times appeared to be African-American. Even the FBI has noted the contradictory nature of the shooter’s statements.

One of the many unfortunate results of the Orlando mass shooting is that it has made the LGBT population, like other groups targeted by hate crimes, feel even more vulnerable. But I think we do all of the victims and ourselves a disservice if we allow these mass murderers to divide us into insular groups. We should respectfully mourn all the victims and try to help the survivors. We should also reject any aspect of a religion or ideology that lessens the worth of anyone because of their identity.

Any of us could be in the next nightclub, movie theater, mall, school, medical clinic, government office, or place of worship. If we want to try to stop the next mass murderers, focusing on their possible motives is not nearly as useful as focusing on how they get their weapons, usually military-style assault weapons.

Let’s make military weapons unavailable to civilians. And let’s insist our government make reasonable efforts to keep all guns out of the hands of terrorists, domestic abusers, and crazies.

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