Thinking of Orlando…

Behind the cut, because sensitive subject, and all of our nerves are still raw.

If there’s anything I have grown to absolutely loathe, it’s being right.

What happened in Orlando was a truly saddening event on more than one level. I’m probably not going to be sober most of the week just trying to deal with the way that the world has become. Not to cliche it, but the world has gone mad. Truly… The world has gone mad.

And of course, the reactions to this were predictable. The media fapped about the “Muslim terrorist” bit, Donald Trump proved himself to be completely unsuitable for life as a basic human being, the NRA cashed some checks and I’m sure gun sales spiked, because apparently after every shooting… I hate being cynical about it, but really, at this point, it’s become an absolutely soul-killing process of “lather, rinse, repeat”. We’ve seen this all before, and nothing changed. And I am certain nothing will.

But with this one, I took one look at the gunman’s picture and said, “Closet case who hates the very thing that he is on the inside.”

And lo and  behold… He was a regular at the club, per some reports. He had a profile on a gay dating app. His parents, while not as religious as some, are discovered to be virulently homophobic.

If this is true… I can’t. I just can’t. It takes a particularly strong cocktail of self-loathing and fundamentalist dogma to drive someone to the kind of hate that would make him shoot up what is pretty much the only place willing to accept him as what he was.

If you’re surprised, please don’t be. Let me put this into perspective for you: you see the same thing with every single white Republican lawmaker who was ever caught in a sex scandal.

It’s a very potent and highly dangerous combination of religious repression, toxic ideas of masculinity, and deep-seated, lifelong self-loathing. These lawmakers will chase strange on the side, then hate themselves, then push, push, push to repress the very people they want to be with and want to be, and are too terrified to come out and be themselves because in the community that they’re in – just as repressing, just as conservative as the policies they’re expected to enact – they would be treated like hell by the very laws that they enact oppress and repress the people they really want to be. For them, coming out is a basic nightmare, but even worse, for them it’s a nightmare of their own creation. They plant the dragon seeds and then are shocked to know that the dragon they reaped burns them from the inside out.

The problem is, this dragon also burns others, who did nothing whatsoever to deserve it.

Closer to home, though, when I went to college, my freshman year was marked by the suicide of one of my friends, who has finally felt safe enough to come out to his parents. Who reacted by quickly stopping tuition payments. He was left in a college in NY, far from home, nowhere to go, no job, and no way out. He was only 18; so he probably wouldn’t have been able to get student loans to at least stay in school for his freshman year. But he died. All because he wanted to be himself, and for his parents, apparently “himself” was not acceptable.

Granted, a lot has changed in the 12 years since I was a college freshman, but how many more others like my friend were there? Kids who felt safe coming out, who got rejected by the very people who were supposed to accept them? How many more were sent over the tipping point?

The point I’m going with  is that  a pressure cooker of extremely stringent and fundamentalist religion, coupled a vehement denial of self thanks to the pressure cooker – and it does not at all matter which religion – will make a person go to an extreme. The most common extreme in such a case is hurt oneself. The other extreme is to lash out and hurt those who reject, or whom the person believes to be responsible for their current predicament. How many gays have been persecuted because the person hounding them won’t admit to their own homosexual leanings? Entirely. Too. Many.

We see this more frequently than we’d like to admit, just not with this carnage.

To note: the shooter was removed from the watch list. Why he was on it in the first place, I have no idea, and it’s not the point in the slightest. But when he bought the weapon he used… he was off the list. 

And also to note: Republicans killed the legislature that would’ve banned people on the watch list from being able to buy a weapon. They have killed background check legislation too. They killed anything that would keep weapons out of the wrong hands, and keep people from being able to kill others. The NRA lobbying and, frankly put, bribing the political machine in this country is nothing new, but as a result, people die. And as far as I’m concerned, the entirety of the GOP has blood on its hands.

And now I find out that the shooter’s wife knew about this, and did not call the cops. And the only thing she did was try to talk him out of it. This just drove me into an incandescent rage that is the absolute last thing that I need to feel at this moment. Yes, she may’ve been an abuse victim herself, but when people end up dead because of someone’s inaction, then I cannot be bothered to give a rat’s patootie about what her circumstances are. I cannot. As far as I’m concerned? The blood is on her hands. People died because she failed to meet the basic standard of a decent human being.

Mentally, I’m just plain drained watching this happen in the world. We aren’t able to resolve problems anymore, and it astounds me in all the wrong ways that we have devolved and spiraled down to the degree where bullets are perceived as the best possible solution, and there’s no need to reload if you have a high-end assault rifle.

That’s the part that galls me the most. People always like to claim they need an AR-15 for hunting. It’s not a gun meant for hunting animals. It’s a gun meant for hunting people.

Don’t tell me you need an AR-15 to hunt. You simply do not. Your grandpappy’s Winchester is enough, and if you can’t take down your quarry with a simple non-automatic rifle, then you need to practice your aim instead of pretending that you’re Rambo. If the government didn’t take away your guns in the past 8 years, then trust me, it ain’t gonna happen. And if you really think that your home arsenal is a match for what the Army has at its disposal, then you need help, not more guns, and have absolutely no business with so much as a slingshot.

But really, here’s the bottom line: if you cannot adequately and reasonably articulate why you need a weapon, then your only weapon needs to be a spoon. Preferably a plastic spoon.

Hard on the heels of the tragedy in Orlando, there was a hostage situation in Texas. Same day, a guy got arrested with a carful of explosives and ammo heading to LA Pride.

I can’t begin on this. I can’t. Too much tragedy, very similar causes, and not enough action to prevent and rectify before it explodes.

My soul hurts to the core from all the bloodshed. And I would give a year off my life to at least temporarily lose this inborn ability that has me able to call a situation to a T, to read a person off just a picture, to know when something’s wrong…

K.G.

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