On Sunday, June 12th, a man entered an Orlando night club. When the dust settled, 49 people were killed and 53 were wounded.
This is the fact of the matter, at it's basest level. Further details include that the man was the son of an ideological supporter of the Afghani Taliban; that he used legally purchased weapons which were illegally modified; that he called 911 and pledged allegiance to ISIS and insisted that the US stopped bombing ISIS targets in Syria. But all of those are, apparently unimportant.
So far I've seen:
- Progressives blaming white people, Christianity, and guns.
- The gaming press demonizing the games industry for daring to have the biggest games event of the year, planned months in advance, in the wake of the shooting.
- BlackLivesMatter speakers using the tragedy to attack white people.
- An argument with an associate who blamed it all on 'toxic masculinity.'
Because we can't know, can we? We can't ever truly know his motivations, only that he was carrying a big scary AR-15 and that he had a problem with gay people. That much we know. Anything else is speculation. We have to discount what he posted on his own Facebook, and what he told a 911 operator. We have to discount what his religion's stance on homosexuality is, and how widespread that belief is, or the treatment of alternate sexualities in some quarters of that belief system. And we certainly must discount ISIS claiming him as a 'soldier of the caliphate.'
Because as Western progressives, we would know better than he would know his own motives.
I'll tell you what I know, because I've seen it:
- I've seen gay and trans friends immensely worried because they're being thrown under the bus to protect a religion and being used as a tool to attack other people.
- I've seen some incredible mental gymnastics to blame anything but a set of ideas that might well be needing some criticism.
- And I've seen my lovely editor herself putting together something wonderful, by taking the common-sense approach of "do what you know to help people."
As a final thought, and I'm not at all sorry who I may offend here, be it those of either conservative or progressive nature: I don't care what your belief system is, it's not above question. I spent my teenage years in the deep south of Alabama questioning Christianity. I've questioned Islam. I'll question any ideology or religion you put in front of me if I see something contradictory or that doesn't make sense. And I'm not going to stop because you call me a racist or an infidel.
And just to go on the record: I'm not a gun owner. I don't plan on buying one because I don't trust myself with one. But I'm not going try and take away anyone's right to own one. I'm also not gay or trans, and I'm not an ally (because I've seen how allies get treated) -- but I'm a friend if you need one.
So long as you're not an asshole to me, of course.