I have too many reactions to what has occurred in Orlando. They clamor for attention, shove each other aside, roil and ripple. Fifty dead, and why?
Because a man decided, on his own, to “do something” about homosexuals.
I don’t think anyone will ever have an satisfactory answer to that, but it would seem to stem from the same impulse that drives certain men to beat their wives, to terrorize their children, to post hate-filled screeds on social media, and then, once they have done all these terrible things, go arm themselves in anticipation of the inevitable storm troopers they expect to come silence them.
And when those storm troopers do not show up?
They have the weapons, they might as well carry the fight to the enemy.
An enemy they have created, for themselves, to give shape to the loathing inside that dominates all their waking hours.
It must. Everyone has a bad day, gets up with an antisocial cloud around them, from time to time. Snapping and snarling, nothing working right, stumbling through interactions that do nothing but abrade.
But we don’t kill people as a result. We solve the problem, get some sleep, be with friends, and the mood or whatever passes. To get anywhere close to this kind of insane reaction, you’d have to live with the brooding ugliness day in and day out, for months or years, until you can’t even see other people anymore, only the threat they represent. Until you can’t carry it anymore and you have to Do Something.
But where does that come from?
That someone can get to this point does not dismay me. It saddens me.
That others goad him on, cheer him, then in cowardly support behind the anonymity of a faceless mod fistpump the air when the bodies have dropped—that enrages me.
One post I saw applauding his actions was glad that he’d “taken out” the perverts.
It’s that question of innocence that seems to underlay so much of this. Protecting the innocent, dealing with the guilty. Somewhere back in the 1980s Reagan dropped a remark, late in his presidency, about AIDS victims after visiting a hospital ward with infants and children: he didn’t know “innocent” people could die from this disease.
We hear this in so much. Innocent people.
Who are they? Why aren’t we all?
More to the point: who the hell are you to say who is or is not?
We feed on hatred, vampirically. It drips, intravenously, daily. Most of us seem immune to the worst effects, but some embrace it.
Omar Mateen thought They were out to get him. They must have been, he hated them, it only makes sense that they hate him back. And we helped him do the hating, every microcerebral homophobic lapel-pin patriot goading him on, ranting about the state of the country, posturing and pissing in the ocean, venting frustration as if it were a holy cause, listening to professional demagogues who peddle bigotry to meet their bottom-line who delight in the slaughter because it makes their irrational squeelings seem somehow prophetic, and then the rest of us who are polite or incapable of separating common sense from ideology or want to believe we do not enable the broken and malign, who are so terrified of losing a presumed right that we hand over our humanity in exchange for a safety we refuse to believe can be had by better means.
Because when our bitter uncle or our next-door neighbor starts ranting about how They are ruining the country, we demure, we don’t want to make a scene, we don’t want to wreck the day. Worse, we may not be so certain they’re wrong, because who, after all, among us is innocent? Maybe…maybe…it might be…well, I don’t know…everyone is entitled to their opinion…who am I…?
And then one day we wake to the news that the monster has fed. We’re shocked. We condemn. But maybe we helped. Not directly. No, we didn’t give him the gun or send him to the address or—
We just never challenged the sickness.