ORLANDO, Guns, EXTREMISM, PERSONAL CONFLICT . . .
I wanted to let some time pass before really airing out my thoughts on the Orlando shooting, and i'm glad I did. There is a lot to unpack with this attack. There is no simple point of discussion regarding it as we've clearly seen more and more information come to light over this past week. When these things happen, we always hear "don't politicize this", "my thoughts and prayers", "I can't believe this happened", etc. It is unfortunately political, thoughts and prayers essentially do nothing without action and it does keep happening. Over and over again.
Lets start with guns. Here in America we have the 2nd Amendment, which specifically states:
So, what does this mean? According to the verbiage in the constitution when it was written, it meant that a well regulated militia, which contains individuals, shall have a right to weaponry. Many people will just skip the militia portion and argue for an individuals rights. Now, militia was debated over and redefined a few times, but was never meant to include individuals outside a well regulated force. (I'm sure some people would also be happy to know that for a while, militia specifically only included white men.) Even prior to the constitution though, it was well understood that private ownership was a necessity . . . for rather grim reasons at times. We weren't done defeating the Natives and we had to be able to control against slave revolts. Reasonably though, we had to hunt, and we had to have basic protections from tyranny. Regardless of pre-Constitutional and post-Constitutional understandings, is it reasonable to just state that all individuals have a right to bear arms? Is it reasonable to say that all law abiding citizens have a right to whatever guns and ammunition they please? Is it reasonable for it to be easier to buy assault rifles than it is to vote? Is it reasonable for there to not be a national registry that gun sellers must use in order to legally sell a gun to an individual? Is it reasonable for an individual on the FBI terrorist list OR on the no-fly list to be able to buy a gun? I say no to all of these. Some may disagree. Is it unreasonable of me to think that if people have to go through a classroom education, training and testing in able to obtain a driver's license that they should also have to do the same thing to obtain a gun? Is it unreasonable of me to think that no private citizen should be able to obtain assault weapons for "recreational" use? Is it unreasonable of me to place more care towards the lives of other people than I would ever give to a "right to bear arms"? I find it unreasonable for our politicians to do this because they have financial ties to the NRA. I find it immoral. I find it disgusting. Wayne Lapierre (NRA head idiot) once said:
This has got to be one of the more ridiculous things i've heard when we are talking about just dealing with everyday life. Are there a some good examples of private citizens in a bad situation where that someone other than the attacker happens to have a gun? Sure there are. I'm pretty sure i've never seen one involving an assault rifle though. I don't want to take away your guns. We just want reasonable legislation and regulation. Here is a great article about how less guns and proper control can be a really good thing.
Moving on. Extremism. If you believe in something so much that it drives you to murder another individual, it is then reasonable to say that your belief is wrong. If you believe in something so much that when other people murder other people, you then rationalize this as a good thing (make sure you watch the video on the bottom). . . your beliefs are wrong. If you believe that your beliefs are the only true beliefs . . . chances are, you are wrong. If you believe that a god and a book you pray to give you self-"righteousness" enough to murder, or even take away basic rights from, other people . . . chances are, you are wrong. Extremism has many faces, many religions, many ideologies, and much separatism. Extremism stems from bad ideas that are allowed to be perpetuated as a truth in reality. Extremism, in its many forms, is a rare thing that is often given "social context" as an excuse for us to not fight against it. Every last bit of it is wrong. Context is a crap excuse when you're afraid of offending other people. Female Genital Mutilation . . . it's wrong. Honor Killings are wrong. Hate speech is wrong. The Ugandan Kill The Gays act is wrong. The american evangelical preachers that funded it were wrong. Kicking your child out of the house for being gay or for being an apostate is wrong.
Personal conflict. It is pretty clear that the Orlando shooter was gay himself and had a massive internal conflict. Others might say he was "casing" the scene. For 3 years? Sure. And using dating apps? Sure. Having previously asked out other men? Sure . . . he was casing it all. He made pledges to various extremist organizations at various times, all having conflicting resolutions. He was a rejected and troubled individual. He had a reportedly aggressive past and had even been investigated by the FBI for terrorist leanings. We've all read the articles by now. As far as I can tell, it seems that his outrage was less about religion and more about a personal conflict that he was never able to resolve. This could go either way at this point. Sure, he made pledges to various groups at different times. However, he was raised in and lived in a culture that does not permit homosexuality. What do you think that does to a person that might be homosexual? It destroys them.
Most people won't admit that when they talk about their hatred of homosexuality, they are almost certainly speaking from an "EWWWW" factor base. To be more specific, they think anal sex is disgusting. They don't get it. They think a penis goes with a vagina and that's it. NOTHING else works.
Here's the deal. There is nothing wrong with being gay. It is COMPLETELY natural. There is nothing wrong with being trans . . . COMPLETELY natural. Some people aren't attracted to anyone . . . also COMPLETELY natural. Some are even attracted to both sexes . . . COMPLETELY natural. You know what didn't exist before these things? Your religions written word regarding it. Your choice in religion is less natural than human sexuality. You know what didn't exist anytime near the ratification of the 2nd Amendment? Pretty much any contemporary firearm. They were not part of the original conversation and are a really frustrating part of it now.
We cannot continue to demonize the things that are scientifically natural while continually having to rationalize the stupid shit we have made up. Hate is a part of that made up structure, whether that be though religious or social ideology. Anything can be exacerbated through bad ideas. Lets not listen to faulty rhetoric and allow it to become definition. None of us are perfect at being rational, but if people are losing their lives over things we've simply made up . . . then we can do much better.