John Seven: What to say after another massacre? Try nothing
NORTH ADAMS — I'm not sure what I'm supposed to write after a tragedy like Orlando.
What am I supposed to do? Say the same things every one else is saying in the spirit of trying to be rational amidst the horror?
Start talking about guns? The people who need to hear it don't want to, so why bother anymore? Talk about homophobia? It's the same. I'd be just one more person in the chorus saying all sorts of things and not really doing anything other than making their voice known.
One of the typical calls people of all political persuasions put out is to not politicize the tragedy. Liberals typically do so when it involves a gunman of Middle Eastern descent, while Conservatives make their statement in response to calls for gun control.
My feeling is that politicizing things is what politicians are supposed to do, sometimes it's their means of getting something done. Politicizing a tragedy may just be an unintended consequence of the way our society enacts change — we seldom do so mundanely, officiously, without facing a worst-case scenario.
I would caution people on Twitter and Facebook to think carefully before speaking, though. You don't actually have to have an opinion about this. Or, more directly, you don't have to express every opinion that comes into your head.
I'm sure there are many caring gun owners out there, but they are often overshadowed by those who make clinging to gun rights their first line of reaction. No mention of the horror, of the loss, of the personal sorrow at such tragedy.
These people, ordinary people whose job is not to politicize everything, just jump to the Second Amendment rather than acknowledging the human toll. These people are undeniably ugly.
I can say the same about those jumping on the Islam bandwagon. The fact this shooter was Middle Eastern is no more indicative of the behavior and feelings of the typical Muslim than Dylan Roof is indicative of the behavior and feelings of the typical white person or the typical southerner or, for that matter, the typical gun owner. Or, actually, the typical mentally ill person.
I can also assert that this is a bad time to try to rationally debate whether this was a hate crime or not. I tend to think it was; I think the facts are undeniable.
I would suggest that if you don't think it was a hate crime, it's not very important for you to argue that point, since you must surely, if you are a rational person, believe this was a crime. What difference is it to you what kind of crime it was? It makes the most difference to the victims, and the community of the victims who fear the possibility of the same fate for themselves.
It's especially horrendous when public Christians like Texas lieutenant governor make plain that their feelings about the LGBTQ when they tweet, "Do not be deceived. God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows" after the horrific event.
People like that also reveal that while they oppose radical Islamists, they acknowledge that in LGBTQ hate, there is some commonality worth claiming in public. And that is despicable.
A while back, a friend and I lamented that people no longer pick their battles. It was actually in regard to the protesting college students, with whom we both share common political ideals much more than with radical pro-gun Christian conservatives, but it certainly applies to everyone.
Is there something so wrong with a day of silence of your opinions in honor of victims of mass violence?
Are you so separated from compassion that you don't see the decency in picking your battles on the worst of days?
Contact John Seven at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @damnjohnseven.
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