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June 13, 2016

Pulse, and the days that follow
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 05:14 PM * 97 comments

I had a hundred fragmentary reactions when I heard the news. I’m still having them.

I knew it would be someone the press could call a Muslim when they used the word terrorist. I reread In This Hour, Mike Ford’s recommendations for coping after Katrina. I knew Twitter would be awful, TV would be awful, the papers would be awful. I was half right; they were both awful and full of kindness.

I recognized consciously what I’d always unconsciously known, that these nightclubs are a sanctuary, a hearth where community is kindled, where love is nurtured and given a place to grow. Those of us who honor sacredness and the spaces it inhabits must honor them.

And I cried about the phone calls to parents, both because they were made and because they were answered, listened for, hoped for. If there’s one thing that makes me realize that this gunman was too late, a generation too late, for any kind of victory, it was that.

But I’m white and straight and far away, safe in every fashion. I’ll give the floor to the people who have more to talk about than me.

Message from Idumea: Be gentle with one another, dear people. Be careful and give space for complexity, for pain, for disagreement about means to our shared ends. Write carefully and listen generously. Seek to make each other smarter, wiser, and more joyful.

Comments on Pulse, and the days that follow:
#1 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2016, 05:54 PM:

Thank you, abi.

#2 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2016, 08:57 PM:

I was really moved by Kaya Oakes's article, on sanctuary and safe space.

#3 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2016, 10:23 PM:

Two of my LGBT friends were out in Orlando that night, celebrating their anniversary. Earlier today one posted on Facebook "Thank you everyone, but we're fine. No clubbing for us old fogeys; we just had a quiet dinner."

I have a whole lot of different feelings about this (the shooting, not my friends' anniversary dinner), most of them quite unpleasant. A few points:

  1. This was a homophobic attack. Islamism was at most an afterthought.
  2. Home-grown homophobia of the kind spouted by the Family Research Council, Mike Huckabee, and Donald Trump is more than adequate to account for this garden-variety American homophobic shithead.
  3. As a gay man with Muslim friends, I am prepared to scream obscenities at forcefully remonstrate with anyone who tries to use this attack on MY community to promote hate against my friends.
  4. All those Republicans offering "thoughts and prayers" after years of preaching hate against LGBT people? I hope they choke on those prayers. Let them pray to have their own hearts cleansed of the hate they've been spewing toward us.
  5. Today, for what I believe is the first time, I cursed at someone in all caps on Twitter. Well, it was Donald Trump, but even so.
  6. Elliott wrote a wonderful explanation of why our grief and rage may seem out of proportion to the clueless, but I'll let him post it here if he wants to.
  7. When I'm really upset, I can't express myself except in numbered lists.
  8. Tonight, at the vigil at Stonewall, there were police armed with AR-15s. That's the weapon the NYPD-obsessed asshole who killed 49 people in Pulse used. Nice PR, NYPD.
That's it for now. I have to eat something before I fall over.

#4 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2016, 10:26 PM:

Oh, one more thing: Owen Jones is my hero. (I wonder if he's married...?)

#5 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2016, 10:33 PM:

Thank you Abi and Xopher.

#6 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2016, 10:46 PM:

Listening to the news at work, I found myself crying.

#7 ::: Brad Hicks ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2016, 11:28 PM:

The thing I still can't process is that all day Sunday, police who were processing the scene say that every corpse's phone just kept ringing and ringing until the battery died. Can you imagine?

When I got to the point where I needed to be done feeling angry and sad, I re-watched the Steven Universe episode "The Answer," and reminded myself that it's going to be released as a children's book. It helped. Love may yet win.

#8 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2016, 01:19 AM:

I heard that about the phones. What an awful thing for investigators to have to deal with, and how terrible for their loved ones to call and call and get no answer, hoping each time and dreading a little more each time.

#9 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2016, 05:32 AM:

Years ago, my mother gave me a rainbow worship flag, hoping I'd dance with it.

Yesterday I gave it a radical indigoectomy and hung my new Pride flag in the front window. Because nobody seems to know it happened, and nobody seems to care, and there'll be a child of God somewhere in this little conservative middle-England village who needs to know they don't grieve alone.

#10 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2016, 07:18 AM:

The official Twitter account of my little Dutch village just tweeted a picture of a rainbow flag at half-mast on our main square.

#11 ::: Privateiron ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2016, 08:52 AM:

The elementary schools here are flying their flags at half mast. Despite all the horrors, the world really has changed some in the last two decades.

If I was a conspiracy theorist, I would think someone somewhere needed an antidote to all the grace at Ali's funeral. But I am not, so I am just pissed.

#12 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2016, 09:08 AM:

I found out about it on a school bus, surrounded by girls aged five to fifteen that I'd spent the weekend camping with. I was sitting up front with the five-year-olds who were alternating between naps and "BEST CAMP EVER" enthusing, so I couldn't even let the horror show on my face. Once home, I wept and wept and wept; I'm not precisely straight, but my brand of queerness is invisible and not one that people have an issue with in respects other than in ways they generally have issues with women who aren't married and having children. Being invisible sucks sometimes, but it's better than being shot.

I spent last night reading the names of the victims that had been published, along with what their friends had to say about them. Every single one of them was described glowingly, but even if they'd been selfish, mean, unkind, they deserved to be safe. People being angry about this is entirely justified, I think.

#13 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2016, 09:44 AM:

When I was younger, I worked in a lesbian bar in Austin for around three years. I keep seeing my co-workers, my community, the crowds of people packed in on party nights and especially on Pride week.

#14 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2016, 10:48 AM:

This is what terrorism looks like. It wasn't done by an overarching group like the unlamented IRA, or Al Qaeda, but it's still the result of decades of anti-queer hate promulgated by a federation of groups who, really, don't even care about GLBTQ issues except as a tribal marker. Here I was being more comfortable with being at least semi-out and not worrying about censoring myself when talking to other people, and now this. Eh, screw it, I'll keep being me. I didn't cower growing up with the occasional bomb threat, and I won't now.

But the only reason he's a terrorist is because the media could make hay about Muslim connections. Without those, he'd just be a lone white guy whose motivations we'd somehow never know. Even Hillary is running with it having ISIS connections. We have plenty of home-grown stuff that we don't need to blame on anyone but ourselves, so fuck that noise. It's our culture that needs fixing. We didn't import it from somewhere else.

And fuck the fucking shitstain congresscritters bought and paid for by the fucking NRA who have nothing to offer but "thoughts and prayers". Thoughts and prayers won't get us out of this, but the actions they refuse to take sure would.

I grew up knowing people who knew people with numbers tattooed on their arms. I grew up being taught about one of the worst atrocities ever committed by humans against other humans by people who knew about it first and second hand. I don't think I'm overreacting when I say I see some of the same unsettling first signs going on here and now. Don't reach out to the other; lash out against the other. Blame everyone's problems on the other. Whoever the other might be. We're not people, apparently, we're pawns in someone else's game of identity politics. Shame what happens when someone takes their words seriously and massacres a bunch of us. I want to shout from the rooftops "never again," but I feel like I'm shouting into the wind. I wish I knew what to do to try to change things around here, because the alternative is feeling impotent and helpless.

So my thoughts are genuinely with everyone touched by this. My prayers would be, if I thought there was anyone or anything to pray to. Now I need to find out how to do more.

(I feel like I should apologize for rambling on rather than developing much of a point, but this is the first it's even semi-cohered in my head.)

#15 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2016, 11:11 AM:

Because not all the news is bad: Mexico legalizes same-sex marriage nationwide.

Like KeithS, I have a lot of feelings about this, but it's hard to get them into words. Maybe later.

#16 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2016, 11:43 AM:

I am reaching the conclusion that it isn't going to take much time to memorize the Office of the Dead. It used to be something I said only during November for the souls in Purgatory. Now...

I light candles, I pray, and fight the urge to weep because if I start I'm not sure I'll be able to stop.

I think about those ringing phones knowing they're playing music that that person cherished.

May every single politician who voted against the assault weapon ban rot in Hell.

#17 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2016, 12:16 PM:

This came through our work email yesterday: Gov. Hickenlooper orders flags lowered to honor the victims of the attacks in Orlando, Florida

#18 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2016, 12:34 PM:

Despair is a sin, right?

#19 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2016, 01:31 PM:

The image of those phones ringing and ringing among the dead bodies is truly haunting.

I wish we didn't see this loser's name and face trumpeted everywhere. We are rewarding his atrocity with fame and attention in a way that probably encourages the next loser.

#20 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2016, 01:52 PM:

This was not a Muslim crime.

He was a Muslim the way I'm a Catholic, and I haven't been to Mass or taken Eucharist or confessed in well over a decade. He wasn't even the Muslim equivalent of a Christmas-and-Easter Catholic, because it was Ramadan and he wasn't fasting. Apparently (according to my Muslim friends and acquaintances) lots of people fast who never go to services or pray regularly.

This was not a crime caused by "mental illness".

Do not, and do not let anyone in your hearing, confuse murderous violence with mental illness. Do not blame variant or malfunctioning chemistry for toxic software, intentionally installed.

This was a crime worsened by lax gun regulations, though as a security guard he would almost certainly have been exempted from any controls (as long as they don't take past domestic violence or loud, rabid, bigoted comments in front of coworkers as a reason to revoke his gun rights).

This was a crime caused, above all, by the US culture of toxic masculinity, with its misogynistic corrolary** of pervasive, defensive homophobia.

Many self-loathing homophobes take actions besides extroverted mass suicide in response to their emotional pain.

Even in normative brains, this toxic software results in murder.

We cannot fight future reoccurrences of this sort of thing without admitting, loudly and publicly and as many times as necessary, that this was entirely about the way that men in the US (primarily straight or want-to-be-straight men, and primarily white or white-passing men) have been trained to deal with loathing and rage.

We also cannot fight it unless we admit, loudly and publicly, that there are people with power who are deliberately deepening the lines of hatred and division, telling people in Group A that all their problems would be solved if everyone in Group B were murdered.

This was not an accident.

It is a tragedy to be mourned, but not in the same way as a natural disaster or (to take a Chicago example) bystanders trampled to death in a nightclub fire.

This has been caused and encouraged (and denied and covered up) specifically by a thread of American political thought that is in power at the moment.

It will continue to happen as long as people in that group want to beat the war drum to gain votes.

It will continue to happen as long as public "thoughts and prayers" statements continue to avoid the fact that the victims were queer, mostly Latinx, and half Puerto Rican, with prominent trans performers headlining.

It will continue to happen as long as those in power keep trying to deflect all such examples as either caused by "Muslim terrorism" or by "a lone nutjob".

These are, none of them, lone nutjobs. This weekend's shooter, Elliott Rogers, Timothy McVeigh, Jared Lee Loughner, Robert Lewis Deer, Jr., and hundreds of others are all tied tightly together.

There is a single cause of all this violence, plus a mitigating "guns are easy to get and to modify to spray a room" factor.

This is not some random, unaddressable thing, or even several unrelated things (terrorism, opposition to abortion, hating one particular politician, misogyny and disappointment ...). It is one thing. It is toxic. And it is caused on purpose.

** I can never spell that word right, even with five tries. It helps if I pronounce it with a British accent

#21 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2016, 01:59 PM:

How can I be joyful when the world supply of fools seems constantly to be rising? Not only in the United States, where folly trumps all on one side of the political aisle, but elsewhere, as in, say, Jamaica, where the attorney general expressed sympathy for the victims in Orlando, and in the next sentence condemned the US embassy for flying the rainbow flag in Jamaica. She was stunned at the immediate barrage of criticism she received on social media.

There are many times I have wished to transfer allegiance to a truly intelligent species. This is one of them.

#22 ::: pk scott ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2016, 02:05 PM:

This is what happens when hate speech is normalized. This is what happens when every common sense measure to keep guns out of the hands of those most likely to commit violence is thwarted at every turn. This is what happens when "good people" do nothing.

#23 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2016, 02:30 PM:

The degree of Privileged White Fragility on display is nauseating. I just ran across someone elseNet (who I recognize as a poster here as well, though under a different nick) saying that being in that space was "bad for my mental health" and that calling for sane gun laws was "mindless hate against those of us who believe that the Second Amendment is important to free people in a free country".


I have had it. I've spent 15 years being called a traitor for holding opinions that have proven to be right in every particular, and I have no more fucks to give. If you want to call that "mindless hate", go right ahead, but you'll be wrong. It's carefully-considered, well-merited disgust which you have deliberately cultivated over the course of decades. If your FIRST reaction (or your second, or your third) to hearing about an atrocity like this is to worry that OMG SOMEONE MIGHT WANT TO TAKE AWAY MY GUNZ!!!... you fail at every conceivable level of common decency and humanity.

#24 ::: cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2016, 02:44 PM:



I'm just so very tired. And scared. And tired of being scared.

#25 ::: Dicentra rubra ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2016, 04:00 PM:

Lin-Manuel Miranda's acceptance sonnet for the Best Score Tony Award for Hamilton, obviously modified from the original to reflect the events at Pulse:

"My wife's the reason anything gets done
She nudges me towards promise by degrees.
She is a perfect symphony of one
Our son is her most beautiful reprise.
We chase the melodies that seem to find us
Until they're finished songs and start to play
When senseless acts of tragedy remind us
That nothing here is promised, not one day.
This show is proof that history remembers
We lived through times when hate and fear seemed stronger;
We rise and fall and light from dying embers,
Remembrances that hope and love last longer
And love is love is love is love is love is love is love
Is love cannot be killed or swept aside.
I sing Vanessa's symphony, Eliza tells her story
Now fill the world with music, love, and pride."

It's worth checking out on YouTube. ("Hamilton's Lin-Manuel Miranda wins Best Score at 2016 Tony Awards")

#26 ::: Dicentra rubra ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2016, 04:04 PM:

And by "events" I mean "horror and rage-fueling tragedy." Sorry for downplaying that.

#27 ::: SorchaRei ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2016, 08:48 PM:

@2 Bill Stewart

That's a moving piece. It's also a piece written by a straight woman. There are queer voices who tell the same story, and they don't get heard. This is the same old story: straight white people get to speak for queers and POCs. While they may say admirable things, they drown out the voices of the people actually living those lives.

I totally get that the queer community became a safe place for this straight writer, that it is, in some sense, her community, too. But it's not her communty in the same way that it is the community of the actual queer people who form its backbone. I wish I could read their voices on a major website.

Because unless and until we treat queers, dark people, people with Latino surnames, Muslims and Jews, and women as being the experts on our own lives, rather than filtering our experiences through the cis, white, straight, usually Christian (or atheists who are "culturally Christian"), often male voices, we are othering people, saying "people need a tour guide to these exotic, different, incomprehensible-wihtout-interpetation lives", instead of just trusting them (us) to tell our own stories.

And it's when we other people that we become able to disregard their humanity and, ultimately, to kill them.

On another topic, I am sickened by responses from pastors celebrating these deaths, and the tone-deaf (at best) responses of politicians who have made their careers on the backs of anti-LBGT bigotry. The Florida AG. Former US Senator Scott Brown, who says it wasn't GAY people, it was LATINO people, as if a person can be one or the other, but never both. The "love the person hate the sin" people, who can't understand why their sympathy burns like molten metal pouring over our heads.

I can't find a decent link, so go to TJ Klune's FB page and read a powerful statement from a queer voice about why this entire thing is about homophobia (FB handle is tjklunebooks).

Finally, here's what I wrote in reference to a YouTube video of Holly Near singing "Gentle Angry People" at the 30th anniversary memorial for Milk and Moscone:

Grief and rage will change the world, one way or the other. We don't get to choose whether the change will happen, but we do get to choose what that change will be. I am 100% certain that the grief and rage we felt in 1978 is directly (if partially) responsible for the fact that today, marriage equality is the law of the land in the USA.

What will we do with our grief and rage over Orlando, Newtown, Charleston, and all the children who die from accidental gunshot wounds? We can change the world, if we are gentle and angry enough.

#28 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2016, 09:48 PM:

There's this post, at Daily Kos.

#30 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2016, 10:36 PM:

Nothing to add here except you folks might want to link to that thread from some time back about what to do in a public place when it looks like something like that is about to go down.

#31 ::: Craft (Alchemy) ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2016, 04:42 AM:

Fred Clark at Slacktivist linked to this piece by Broderick Greer, a queer black man and Episcopal clergyman: Gay nightclubs and black churches are sanctuaries. Here's how to make them safer.

PJ Evans, Sumana Harihareswara, thank you for those other links. I shall go and read those now.

#32 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2016, 08:47 AM:

Elliott: well said. Thank you.

#33 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2016, 10:17 PM:

Talked to a Muslim guy after the vigil-like thing in Hoboken tonight. Promised him I'd help fight against the people trying to use this horrible crime to promote an Islamophobic agenda.

#34 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2016, 10:19 PM:

Xopher, in re your nick: I was already going to stencil "QUEER as in FUCK YOU" on a tie-dye t-shirt to wear to Pride, but oh hell yes I'm going to now.

That's my gender identity, right there.

#35 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2016, 10:21 PM:

Right on, Elliott, brother in the struggle. Love you.

#36 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2016, 02:28 AM:

I found the College of Arms rules on same-sex marriages intriguing, but not startling. You can see how it comes out of old rules (there's the mention of the "lozenge"), and there are some detail elements that may still distinguish between men and women, but you'd have to know your heraldry to spot them.

That particle is a couple of years old, but it seems specially significant now. The College of Arms was established by Richard III, but they feel pretty modern, don't they.

If they can change with the times, why do some people have no much trouble?

#37 ::: Craft (Alchemy) ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2016, 05:19 AM:

Nother link, via an acquaintance on Twitter - this piece from Adeel Amini, a British Muslim writer, about intersectionality & the reaction of white LGB (mainly G) people to Orlando: Orlando and the importance of intersectionality.

#38 ::: Craft (Alchemy) ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2016, 11:37 AM:

Genderqueer writer Olivia Laing in the Guardian: On the Orlando shooting and a sense of erasure

(I am collecting links because it feels like all I can do is read and pass on.)

#39 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2016, 01:14 PM:

Thank you for both of those, Craft(Alchemy). I'm sharing them elseweb. They say important things.

#40 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2016, 01:50 PM:

I don't know if anyone else has shared this one, but just in case they haven't:

Feel My Pulse

#41 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2016, 01:59 PM:

@Elliott Mason no. 20: This needs to be said more widely and more often. There's practically a checklist by now.

*American-born male between the stages of late adolescence and middle age.

*Did not meet standards for police/military service (police in his case).

*Violent toward spouse.


*Hated the culture that provided the matrix for his relatively privileged upbringing.

*Spat on anything peaceful or humble--note that he picked Ramadan to commit all these murders.

*A fan of organized violence and oppression.

*Appears to have spent a lot of time planning the murders, which required learning about his targets, but this did not affect his decision to murder them.

He was at the bloody far end of the spectrum that starts with men who troll blogs with disgusting GIFs that trumpet their bigotry. They just whine about not getting to be on top all the time. He decided instead to end his life in the most destructive way possible.

#42 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2016, 03:48 PM:

PZ Myers suggests that we should ban gun ownership by men.

#43 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2016, 04:28 PM:

Jenny, #41: You forgot "white". This particular murderer wasn't white, but the checklist is not intended to be a "must be 100%" sort of thing; it's more like those "if you answer Yes to at least N of these questions you are at high risk for X" quizzes.

#44 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2016, 04:30 PM:

Lee @43: Of the few of the last 1000 mass shooters (since Sandy Hook, roughly) who weren't white, the overwhelming majority were white-passing: i.e. many people in their lives treated them as white, so they got used to what that felt like.

#45 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2016, 04:37 PM:

Shootout at gay bar in Veracruz leaves at least 4 dead, 7 injured.

I don't trust the numbers entirely because I've seen multiple accounts showing different ones, of which I've gone with the most conservative. There is apparently some cause to think that this incident was "drug war"-related rather than a hate crime, but that doesn't make the victims any less dead.

#46 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2016, 05:35 PM:

@Lee no. 43, Elliott Mason no. 44: You're right, I forgot that one.

#47 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2016, 09:15 AM:

Jenny #41:

Is there a link somewhere to some actual demographics on mass shooters? I think it's way too easy to fill in a profile based on what you remember from news stories, and end up with something 180 degrees out of synch with reality. Both news coverage and your memory can introduce biases.

Is there really a connection between jerks who troll the internet and mass shooters? It wouldn't be a total shock, but I've never seen any reference to such a connection before. (Except that recent mass-shooters try to get a lot of social media coverage for their mass-shooting, which suggests their motive is a desire for posthumous notoriety.)

#48 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2016, 11:22 AM:

Since it's illegal for the CDC (or other government agencies) to collect national-level statistics on gun violence, it's hard to find official numbers/information on mass killings by gun. Which makes the disarming process more difficult to justify by statistics.

#49 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2016, 11:51 AM:


Doesn't the FBI or BJS collect statistics on mass shootings? I'd expect CDC research in this area (if it were permitted) to be looking at risk factors for gun violence or something, whereas the BJS collects and reports a lot of statistics on crime and such.

#50 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2016, 12:34 PM:

albatross: difficult, because local departments are not required to report (or collect) most of the relevant stats. This is also why we don't know much about police-involved homicides.

There are some reporters who have started collating info based on what ends up in newspapers and media.

#51 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2016, 08:04 AM:

There are online lists of mass shootings, but they aren't coming from the FBI: they're crowd-sourced, in the absence of anything more official. The first I was aware of was put together by the Guardian, a British newspaper.

#52 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2016, 05:46 PM:

Be careful about online lists of mass shootings. Different sources use different criteria for a mass shooting. The FBI and other law enforcement sources do have definitions, but they have notably changed over time.

As an example, defines a mass shooting as 4 or more shot/killed by a single person at the same general time or location. In contrast, Mother Jones defines a mass shooting as 4 or more killed (not counting the shooter), by a lone shooter (with two exceptions), in public (including a couple of cases of private parties with strangers). Mother Jones excludes gang activity, armed robbery, and domestic violence. Following the change in definition by the FBI in 2013, Mother Jones also changed their criteria to be 3 or more killed, not 4.

Gun Violence Archive is trying to document every shooting incident in the country. Mother Jones is doing investigative journalism on the mass shooting phenomena.

These different definitions lead to huge differences in counts. says there have been 141 mass shootings this year, Mother Jones says 3 so far this year, and 82 since 1982.

Which do you believe? What's your agenda?

#53 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2016, 06:00 PM:

I've written up some more thoughts on Orlando.

Mostly, that's about finding out that the victims were targeted for their race as well as their queerness, and trying to find an appropriate place in the discussion as a queer white person.

#54 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2016, 02:38 AM:

Orlando, seems to me, has at least three levels of tragedy: LGBQT, Latinx, and yet more backlash against the Muslim community.

(Am I the only one who's finding it just a teeny bit ironic that there's a debate over how to define "mass shooting"?)

#55 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2016, 10:06 AM:

Albatross @47: "Is there really a connection between jerks who troll the internet and mass shooters?" I think the point was that it's the same set of conditions that leads to both trolling and mass shootings: people (mostly male) with privilege, angry because some of that privilege is (as they see it) under threat because "other people" (women, people of other religions, people of different sexuality, people of different ethnic background etc.) are no longer kowtowing/cowering "as they ought to" but are daring to stand up, speak and expect to be listened to and treated as human beings with rights and everything.

#56 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2016, 12:38 PM:


That may be true, but it seems pretty speculative to me. It also seems like it fits a pattern I notice every time there is a mass shooting or similar tragedy--everyone is convinced that the fault for the tragedy lies in whatever stuff they started out not liking, whether that's violent video games, Islam, misogyny, heavy metal music, whatever.

#57 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2016, 04:08 PM:

albatross @56. I haven't got time to pull out a large number of examples, but this recent study from The Guardian: The dark side of Guardian Comments found that of their article writers, women and minorities are the predominant targets of online abuse. They analysed 70 million comments on Guardian articles and found that "articles written by women attract more abuse and dismissive trolling than those written by men, regardless of what the article is about." Additionally, "The 10 regular writers who got the most abuse were eight women (four white and four non-white) and two black men. Two of the women and one of the men were gay. And of the eight women in the “top 10”, one was Muslim and one Jewish. And the 10 regular writers who got the least abuse? All men." They added: "We focused on gender in this research partly because we wanted to test the theory that women experience more abuse than men. But both writers and moderators observe that ethnic and religious minorities, and LGBT people also appear to experience a disproportionate amount of abuse."

Admittedly the Guardian analysis concentrates on who the comments are aimed at, as that's the data they have available, and doesn't go into who writes those comments.

#58 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2016, 11:54 PM:

Xopher @53: fb won't let me look at that without signing in. :-(

#59 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2016, 03:44 AM:

[Context markers: Australian, female, cis-heterosexual, bloody furious]

The main reason I'm bloody furious at present is because the US Senate has, once again, blocked any sort of sensible action on gun control. Essentially, the group of senators bought and paid for by the NRA have ensured that in the USA, it is still safe for men who feel insecure in their masculinity to reassure themselves by slaughtering people with a firearm.

You folks have an election coming up in November. I have thoughts and prayers of my own. I am thinking, and praying that by November this year, November of 2016, the majority of the American people will have finally had enough, and they will say "no more!" at the ballot box to the damn fools who keep offering you all up as sacrificial lambs on the altar of toxic (white) masculinity. That there will be a campaign organised, and funded, and set up, to note all the members of Congress, all the members of the Senate, who receive donations from the NRA, and ask people to vote them out. That there will be questions asked of candidates standing in various electorates, to ascertain their stance on gun violence. That these answers will be publicised, allowing the public to make their own decisions as to where their votes should go.

That at long last, there will be an end to this steady stream of stories coming out of the USA about the pointless slaughter of inoffensive people in order to satisfy the urge of some nincompoop to prove he's a "Real Man".

(Worth noting: the Pulse shooting was not the only such shooting carried out in Florida that weekend. A minor singer - someone who'd had a good run on one of those singing competition shows, and was now working on establishing herself a career as a performer - got shot by a "fan" who then turned his gun on himself, on the day prior to the Pulse shooting.)

#60 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2016, 08:09 AM:

I've left it a week before commenting to calm down. In that time, a British MP has been murdered by a far right fascist terrorist. I apologise if this offends people, or if I express this badly.

In each case there have been differing interpretations. In the case of Omar Mateen, the right have been quick to paint this as an Islamic crime, whilst the left have been equally as fast to state that this has nothing to do with Islam: even (disgustingly) going so far as to insinuate that the reason is that he is a repressed homosexual (and why was he repressed I would just ask?), or equally horribly that it's just because he was a "madman".

In the case of Thomas Mair, the right have been quick to distance themselves from the actions of this Britain First nazi-saluting activist, and claim he was (again) just a "deranged loner". The left meanwhile have been happy to paint the whole of the British right, and the Leave EU campaign in particular, with a fascist brush.

All of these interpretations seem to me to be lacking. But more than that, the difference in reaction from each side exposes grotesque double standards.

The Leave campaign in the UK has been conducted in a cesspit of barely veiled racism and paranoia. I know that Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson and Michael Gove have nothing to do with Britain First, and would strongly refute any suggestion that they were in anyway allied with these fascists. But I do think that they, and the right wing press, have created a rich climate of fear and hatred in which this kind of extremism can take root. Witness Mr Farage's vile poster, whipping up hatred of a brown tide in a propaganda stunt eerily reminiscent of 1930s Germany.

Similarly, I cannot entirely absolve many in the Muslim community for the sort of homophobia we saw in Orlando.

Partly this is just a matter of numbers and facts: Islam is a deeply conservative faith and this is reflected in the attitudes of its adherents. I don't have US facts to hand, but the Muslim community in the UK is not by and large a liberal faith and an ally to LGBT causes. A 2009 survey showed 0% tolerance to homosexual acts. 52% in a 2016 survey think homosexuality should be illegal (vs 5% in the general population). 35% of British muslims aged 18-29 think that suicide bombings are justifed etc. Raheel Raza's excellent, fact filled film I've linked to shows (with many more hard statistics) that there is a problem, and that it is a vast and growing one.

I don't want to say this to offend Muslims: far from it. Islam is not a monolith, and there are many people within it, muslim women, LGBT muslims, liberal and left wing muslims, who desperately need our support to reform. They are fighting the same battle against entrenched conservative patriarchal structures that the Enlightenment battled for centuries in Christianity. But pretending that there is no problem is not just a betrayal of liberal values: it is a pointed and wicked betrayal of these brave people, often to threats, violence torture and death. It would be morally abhorent to stick my fingers in my ears and abandon them to the Islamist and conservative extremists. Jihadists kill more Muslims than anyone else: they need to be acknowledged and fought.

It remains my opinion that toxic homophobic and misogynistic belief systems, whether Christian, Muslim, of the left or the right are clearly a problem, and every support is needed to reform and combat those beliefs. Part of that support is admitting there is a problem.

Perhaps a Muslim liberal (indeed a candidate for my own party the Liberal Democrats) can put it better than I can. God knows I admire Maajid Nawaz (like Raheel Raza and my own mayor, Saddique Khan) for their brave and wise words.

#61 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2016, 08:12 AM:

And I meant to add, though pointlessly, that, if people's minds have been filled with nihilistic fascist poison, filling their hands with assault weapons and ammunition is a force multiplier we don't need.

I suspect that, in this audience, that is a comment that will be less controversial however.

#62 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2016, 08:31 AM:

James Harvey @60: Minor point of order. It's the right that are calling him a repressed homosexual. The leftist view is "He was a murderous homophobic racist".

#63 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2016, 08:56 AM:

Thanks Elliott @62. Apologies: my memory fails me. I think I was referring to this statement , which was, indeed, shared widely by my friends on the left. It was followed by this, usual, bit of "love the sinner" theological twisting and denial of any connection.

The willingness and eagerness of many of my left-leaning friends to promulgate this is one of the reasons I needed to wait a week before writing anything. They wouldn't dream of doing so for a similar post by the Archbishop of Canterbury, so why is it acceptable from this guy? Have I slipped down the hierarchy of victimhood or something?

Think I might need to cool down again for a bit having just seen all of that again.

#64 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2016, 09:09 AM:

I think it's important to point out that most of these shootings would not happen at all without our paranoid, toxic culture of hyper-defended (mostly white) "masculinity", where what makes a real man is earning money, social dominance, getting as many women and as much sex as he wants, and never having to be polite to or consider anyone from the queer or brown communities as human.

This is where we differ from Europe. If mass tantrum-murderers in Europe wanted guns or bombs, they could get them. Not as easily as here, but they could.

The urge to take out your own frustrated fear and tangled self-loathing in massively extroverted and murderous ways (instead of suicide, or less drastic or violent measures) is a very American pathology.

#65 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2016, 10:00 AM:

A gay Muslim who was seriously considering terrorism pulls back, partly due to exposure to mainstream Islam.

#66 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2016, 10:01 AM:

A gay Muslim who was seriously considering terrorism pulls back, partly due to exposure to mainstream Islam.

#67 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2016, 11:31 AM:

Elliott @64 Up to a point (Lord Copper :)

The fact remains that in both the UK and Australia we did have mass gun murders, and the reaction to Port Arthur, Hungerford and Dunblane has effectively meant an end to rampages by extremists tooled up with vast armouries.

Thomas Mair was clearly having a potential "mass-tantrum" moment, as you put it. The fact that all he could get his hands on was a knife and a home-made gun doesn't exactly cheer me up: but I shudder to think what he could have "achieved" for his "cause" with an AR-15 and a couple of Glock 17s.

I really do think that mass gun murders are largely an American pathology just because it's the obvious method. Meanwhile in London, Islamist murderers have to improvise by strapping bombs and schrapnel to themselves. Hardly better, but if you have to try very hard, illicitly, to amass ammunition, weapons or explosives and the expertise to manufacture machines of destruction, all these things give the authorities multiple vectors to discover you and frustrate your activities. And, at least in the UK (and I suspect similarly the US), institutions like the The Security Service, SO15 and SIS are very focused on finding out about these people and thwarting them. This is made considerably harder if the only prep required is a trip to the hardware store.

#68 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2016, 12:16 PM:

James Harvey: I thought for sure Gabby Gifford or Sandy Hook were going to be the "NO MORE! Not one step farther!" legislative triggers.

But they weren't.

And now I'm wondering if ANYTHING can be.

The crime you walk past is the crime you condone.

If we, as a society, don't value the lives of a sitting legislator or a whole school of young children more than we value the broadest, most nutjob interpretation of the 2nd Amendment ... nothing is going to affect our laws until there is a widespread, ground-up cultural change in the nutjob-gun-owner demographic.

#69 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2016, 12:39 PM:

Amen to all of that

#70 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2016, 04:35 PM:

Elliott Mason @68:

If we, as a society, don't value the lives of a sitting legislator or a whole school of young children more than we value the broadest, most nutjob interpretation of the 2nd Amendment...

[*sour expression*] If a bunch of young children doesn't do it, I doubt if a bunch of... you know, those people... will do it. For whatever value of "those people" you prefer, and especially from viewpoint of the nutjob sector and people in their multidimensional volume of the spectra. I've been hearing all of the usual excuses from the pundits, and sick of it.

#71 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2016, 06:45 PM:

Yeah, Joel. I know.

On a slightly brighter (but still sniffly) note: A lot of people are getting tattoos to commemorate the dead and hope for the future:

My friend is going to draw a pulse-like zigzag all down the front of a t-shirt (in rainbow colors, in succession) with sharpie and do the use-alcohol-to-run-the-colors thing, and then a handprint over the heart, for her daughter to wear at Pride.

#72 ::: GAY! Xopher Halftongue QUEER! ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2016, 08:09 PM:

An American in Egypt describes the reaction of Egyptians to the Pulse shootings. I "got something in my eye" reading that.

Extremist fringe elements are a problem in all religions (I haven't heard of any self-described Wiccans going on murderous rampages, but I wouldn't be surprised if I did). The worst ones are the ones who are dominant overall in a given society (Christianity in the US, Islam in Saudi Arabia) because they feel entitled to control the society. The fringes, I believe, erupt when their sense of entitlement is not being fulfilled to their satisfaction.

If you call attacks by a Muslim fringie "Islamism," but don't call attacks by a Christian fringie "Christianism," you're just being Islamophobic, and a bigot. The same people who have fought against our rights for decades are suddenly on our side as against Muslims, and I will not allow them to have it both ways; in particular, the LGBT community will not be used to foment Islamophobia. Fuck those people and all their works and all their pomps; they make me wish I believed in hell so they could burn in it.

The Donald Trumps, the Sam Brownbacks, the shitheads like this guy (unfortunately they can't actually evict his so-called "church") use words to encourage violent feelings in all who hear them, hoping (I firmly believe) that actual violence will erupt; when it does, they either gloat (Trump and the shithead) or send their "thoughts and prayers."

I hope they choke and die. And I will not pretend not to be happy if they do. I will gloat and celebrate. I will not, however, lift a finger to harm them, or encourage anyone else to do so; I'm hoping their karma catches up to them, that's all.

And to anyone who feels inclined to say "but aren't you just as bad as that pastor who said he was glad—" two things: 1. no, because none of the dead and injured of Orlando ever did anything to him, whereas he is praising murder of people just like me and has thus proclaimed himself to be my mortal enemy; and 2. FUCK YOU.

#73 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2016, 11:23 PM:

James Harvey:

Every time some nutcase carries out some atrocious act that gets a lot of attention, there's this utterly toxic pattern of people trying to find some way to smear people they don't like with blame for it, based on some very tenuous connection.

Thus, some people who started out really disliking Muslims jumped at the chance to blame Islam for this idiot's mass-shooting of people in a gay nightclub in Orlando. Earlier, plenty of people seemed quite willing to blame Souther whites (or maybe just the ones with Confederate flags on their trucks) for that nut who shot up the black church.

There are ideologies and shared beliefs, and bad ones are worth arguing against. But it is never going to make sense to blame every Muslim or every Brexit supporter, or for that matter every racist Southern white guy for some outstandingly atrocious act done by some nutcase somewhere who's a member of their group. That kind of collective guilt is a great way of smearing people you don't like, but a really bad way of convincing anyone who disagrees with you to change, or of otherwise making things better.

#74 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2016, 02:25 AM:

Albatross @73

I'll just make a couple of observations:

Do you perhaps think that "some nutcase" is in itself yet another "smear" on the mentally ill? Why is it ok to "smear" them, but not other groups? Have you presented any facts that back up your assertion?

As for Muslims, and indeed Brexiters, you'll note that I provided a number of links and examples. In the case of Islam, I provided some quite shocking statistical evidence and links to some leading Muslim reformers. Perhaps you'd care to engage with facts, and with them.

Even so, I was careful (and am careful) to avoid criticising "all" Muslims: I can't in any case because I make common cause with feminist, LGBT, liberal and left Muslims.

#75 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2016, 06:16 AM:

Xopher @72

I use the terms "Islamism" and "Jihadism" advisedly, to denote those (and there are many of them) who wish to impose their faith on others by, respectively, political and violent means, because those are the terms used by leading UK Muslim reformers such as Maajid Nawaz - these terms may have different connotations in the US (rather like the word "queer", which I suspect is far less divisive a term in the UK than in the US).

The people who are "suddenly on our side against Muslims" aren't. But neither are most Muslims. It isn't about lining up tribes into one side or the other: all the tribes are divided. I don't take my political positions on a reactive basis simply to oppose whatever the other "side" say, and I make no apology for looking closely at the Muslim ummah, and choosing to be selective about who I ally with, and who I regard as unmentionable. I'm not going to co-opt them all as allies on the basis that they have a strong victim card.

And yes: I will also continue to call a spade a spade when it comes to Christian Fundamentalist attacks, and also when it comes to White Fascist attacks (unlike those trying to ignore the fact that Thomas Mair has multiple links to far right organisations in the UK and abroad, like that other fascist terrorist Anders Breivik).

And I will continue to call out, for example, the Catholic hierarchy for its continued promotion of homicidal lies and deception over HIV prevention, notably in Africa. For its continuing sheltering of genocidal mass-murderers within its ranks, who preached genocide from the pulpit. For its appalling record on sheltering child rapists. And for its general, toxic homophobia and misogyny.

That doesn't mean I'm "Cathophobic" or "Christophobic": that would be inconvenient for me when I have so many Catholic and Christian friends, notably my oldest school friend, a moderator of this site, and my mother. But I would observe, inter alia, that I regard those three individuals as being far better Christians (and humans) than my empirical observations of the theological hierarchy of, say, the College of Cardinals, the Pope and the Church of England, who provoke me almost to tears (and sometimes to actual tears) on a weekly basis with their immoral twisting attempts to reconcile the unmentionable with morality. And I know that many of my Christian friends have similar levels of despair and sorrow. They have my unending support and love for the battle that they must face within their own faith: but there is a battle.

#76 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2016, 11:34 AM:

GAY! Xopher @72: An American in Egypt describes the reaction of Egyptians to the Pulse shootings.

Well, that certainly settles the "where are the Muslims in all this?" argument.

If you call attacks by a Muslim fringie "Islamism," but don't call attacks by a Christian fringie "Christianism," you're just being Islamophobic, and a bigot.

I ran across a reference recently (Christopher Hitchens?) who pointed out that "Islamism" is a contraction of "Islamic fascism," so it originally actually meant a specific thing, and made a useful distinction. Unfortunately, that's a nuance that got lost pretty quickly and thus, the word has lost any merit it might once have had.

#77 ::: venus ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2016, 01:42 PM:

#73 I don't think the entirety of Islam is to blame for the Pulse shootings, just as I don't think Southern pride is entirely to blame in the shooting at the Bible study class, but I do think it's fair to say that Islamic based homophobia and Southern-pride based racism each played a role in their respective crimes.

After the church shooting, there was a dialog about racism that led to the removal of the Confederate flag from the capital building. I'd hoped something similar could happen now, but it's like talking about Islam's homophobia is still forbidden.

Muslims in America are oppressed on the basis of their religion and race, and this is 100% wrong.

But people are complicated, and it is entirely possible to be both oppressed and oppressing.

I'm not suggesting that Islam is unique. I live in the Bible belt, and as a fag, I have a lot of personal experience with Baptist and Pentescostal and Catholic homophobia. They all need to sit in a corner and think about their life choices.

I understand the desire to defend all Muslims against the crimes of a few wingnuts, but at the same time... Islam, as it is practiced by most mainstream Muslims in America, *is* homophobic.

I'd like to see more nuanced discussion that can accept the flaws of Islam while also accepting its rights and its strengths.

#78 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2016, 02:01 PM:

I am trying to keep from beating my head on my desk...

This morning I discovered that in addition to wanting the USA to default on its' debt, Drumpf is also in favor of returning to the gold standard.

That high-pitched whine in the distance? Probably William Jennings Bryan spinning in his grave.

#79 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2016, 02:41 PM:

venus @ 77:

Even granting that most mainstream Islam practiced in the US is homophobic in some way (I have no idea, I'd need to do the research, and I don't actually want to assume without evidence), non-Muslims in predominantly non-Muslim countries are... not the best people to be having that conversation. We can certainly acknowledge that various strains of Islam are homophobic, just as various strains of Christianity and Judaism are. However, Muslims are in the rather unfortunate position in the US of being a minority group that's constantly being harassed and oppressed. If it's not handled very carefully, we're only adding to that. This is not the same as non-Christians having a conversation about homophobia in Christianity, because Christianity is the dominant religion and therefore affects everyone, including non-Christians, in many subtle and not so subtle ways.

But that's not the main point here. Why do we need to have that conversation right now at all? The issue at hand isn't any variation on "lots of Muslims are homophobic[citation needed] and that's bad". And, unless something else has come to light that I wasn't aware of, the shooter wasn't really very religious at all. This makes the entire discussion of Islam an utter distraction from the point that hate for LGBT individuals and groups is drummed up in this country for political and fundraising purposes. It means that society at large is happy to deem us acceptable targets for people's ills. And, with an amazing 180° flip, it means that we are being used in the abstract to support a political agenda that is against Islam in the abstract. Treating people as things is evil.

#80 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2016, 03:33 PM:

KeithS @79

Certainly, in the UK, the data is available (and I have provided it above), and it is not pretty. 0% tolerance of homosexual acts, 52% believing homosexuality should be illegal, for example. I suspect the US is better than that as we have more of a problem with Islamic extremism and conservatism in the UK

It's also important to note that Muslims are not a monolithic group divided from the rest of society: we cannot passively say that we shouldn't comment because we are not Muslim. Over half of Muslims are also LBGT, or women, or trades union members: and many of these people need our support and solidarity. On what basis should we abandon to oppression Muslim women (who often face many particular cultural challenges, up to and including FGM, honour killings, kidnapping and forced marriage)? Human rights are not something we just accord to white people: Muslim minorities deserve them too, and need our support as they fight to achieve them.

As to the religiosity or otherwise of the shooter 1) that isn't how radicalisation works and 2) I thought we didn't believe in profiling? If we hold that view, we can't then immediately say "he isn't a Muslim because he doesn't fit the profile." The reality is that a young man went into a nightclub and shot a lot of people whilst repeatedly voicing (confused) support for Islamist organisations. His father appears to hold some interesting and rather conservative views on homosexuality and the Taliban in Afghanistan. I am NOT saying that this is the totality of the explanation. I suspect lack of affordable mental health care, availability of weapons, a toxic culture of masculinity, poverty, exclusion and lack of education (particularly the latter) all have their part to play. But given the perpetrators statements, and the environment of his upbringing, I cannot immediately say "this has nothing to do with Islamism or Islamic taboos around homosexuality" or even "These factors are insignificant in this case".

#81 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2016, 06:03 PM:

James Harvey @ 80:

I think you're reading some things into my comment that aren't there (at least, not intentionally). Of course, it's entirely possible that I was reading some things into venus's comment that weren't there either, and I apologize if that's the case.

Majority groups having conversations about what's 'wrong' with minorities ("wrong" is in scare quotes, because sometimes the conversation is about something that actually is wrong, and sometimes it's about something that makes the majority feel better about itself) is often a way of reinforcing the majority narrative and engaging in further oppression. There is nothing wrong with different groups in conversation, or with offering to help, or with being good allies, or providing a bolt-hole for people who need to escape. Nowhere did I say that we should abandon people, or that human rights were for white people only, and I rather resent the implication. But human rights issues need to be argued as human rights issues, and the religious aspects of that need to be taken up by people who actually have an inside view of the religion. As an added bonus, that cuts across all religions and cultures instead of targeting one in particular.

I'm not denying that multiple causes lead to a single event. I'm denying that we need to have a conversation (that I seem to be having a meta-conversation on anyway) about Islamic homophobia because of this particular terrible event. We need to be having a huge conversation about institutionalized and socially acceptable homophobia in general, because all iterations of that played into why this nightclub and the people in it were chosen as an acceptable target. Because GLBT people are targeted for assault all the time without much focus on the religious beliefs of the perpetrators, but, because this time the perpetrator was some variety of Muslim, the particular religion is a big deal. Because these poor people hadn't even been dead for a day when they were individually erased and used as a symbol to stoke the fear of Muslims, in some cases by people who have been hating GLBT people professionally for many years now. Because the narrative seems to keep slipping away from GLBT acceptance and the tragedy of hate, to finding very specific targets that aren't mainstream American in order to keep people from having to examine their own beliefs and culture too closely. Because it keeps slipping into an us-versus-them narrative that intentionally weakens and divides us. Because it keeps slipping into an us-versus-them framing that denies that they can also be us.

#82 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2016, 06:50 PM:

Some of those designs are ones that I would not object to having on me, if I were in a position to get one.

#83 ::: venus ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2016, 07:51 PM:

I have not advocated building fences, denying immigration, deporting people, restricting gun ownership, or going to war.

A man walked into a bar full of people like me and slaughtered them, KeithS, and that man did so by his own admission for religious reasons. I wanted to talk about those reasons, because those victims were people like me.

You say you're ignorant on Islam's homophobia, and yet, you feel comfortable telling me I shouldn't be part of the conversation. I've been told 1 Corinthians 14:34-40 often enough that it sprang to mind.

I'm so upset that I am literally shaking. I'm not going to be a constructive part of this conversation. I'll go, so good job, I guess.

#84 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2016, 10:52 PM:

One thing I've been hearing in various places is a sentiment to the effect of, "Congratulations, whackjob. You've just focused the attention of the strongest progressive force in America on the most intractable problem in our society. Those queens get shit done." I hope that's true.

albatross: Y clrly hv n d hw cllss nd nlng y lk rght nw.

#85 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2016, 10:57 PM:

the religious aspects of that need to be taken up by people who actually have an inside view of the religion

I disagree. Removing religions' aura of "you can't criticize us, we're a religion" is critical to reducing the self-righteousness and hate and violence that far too many religious people and organizations push out into the world day after day.

Anyone has the right to criticize a religion, from the inside or the outside, at any time.

It may or may not be the case that the homophobic acts of this specific man had anything to do with his religious beliefs, but Islam is definitely one of several religions that commonly promotes homophobia, and a lot of human beings would be better off if Muslim communities and organizations and clerics that are doing so would stop. (And Christian and any other frequently-homophobia-promoting religion too.)

Also, Islam is one of several religions that systematically promotes the idea that violence is OK -- or even righteous -- if it's against people who are defying God's will (whatever that particular religion happens to think that is). That's a pretty big problem too. We wouldn't be having this thread if he had only screamed insults, however vile. Numerous members of several popular religions are more willing to cross the line to violence because their religion gives them permission.

#86 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2016, 11:43 PM:

And here come the copycats.

Note particularly the pathetic attempt to make this threat look as if it's coming from "inside the group". Yeah, and if you believe that I've got some lovely oceanfront property in Arizona going amazingly cheap...

#87 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2016, 09:06 AM:

Lee @84, you know Albatross for an intelligent person who argues in good faith. Please take the loss of a sentence's worth of vowels as a mild, diagnostic "the line is back thataway" indicator.

#88 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2016, 09:43 AM:

I have, over the years, read a lot of rather old-fashioned English fiction that is set in exotic places. Some has held up better than others, Kipling for instance, and some has seen the thorough attentions of the suck-fairy, such as the Sanders of the River stories of Edgar Wallace.

They often don't have much to say about the people, they're just exotic cardboard cut-outs, and there is a certain reticence about sexual matters anyway. But something has floated into view, borne by the river of my memory. Some supposed traditional saying, attributed to a group just outside the Empire, who make trouble for the noble Brits.

It prompts the thought that we once blackened the name of Islam by making claims of homosexuality and pedophilia, and now we accuse them of homophobia.

Is Islam really the problem?

#89 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2016, 10:16 AM:

venus @ 83:

If you're still here, I'm sorry. It wasn't my intent to slap you upside the head. The people there were people like me too. I reacted the way I did because it sounded like so many "let's all descend on the minority group and tell them why they're doing it wrong" things I've seen before. I've been on the receiving end, and it's not fun or helpful. From other reactions to my comments here too, it's clear that I'm just pissing people off, and I'll step out.

chris @ 85:

I said to leave the religious aspects of criticisms to the religious groups, because they know their religion and culture, not to avoid criticizing behaviors. I'm obviously arguing poorly, and I've pissed off enough people, so I'll just leave before I make it worse.

#90 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2016, 10:35 AM:

KeithS @ #89:

I said to leave the religious aspects of criticisms to the religious groups, because they know their religion and culture, not to avoid criticizing behaviors.
No, because typically they know their own religion and culture, if that, and are grievously ignorant about all others.

#91 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2016, 10:55 AM:

Chris @85: When have any of the religion-positive members of the Fluorosphere ever argued that you can't criticize a religion because it's a religion? Or claimed any special privilege to preach self-righteousness, violence, or hate on account of their religious beliefs?

Islam has varied the strictness of its homosexuality taboo from time to time and place to place. The same is true of the other world religions, almost all of which have been homophobic to some degree. Like thinking it's okay to beat your wife and kids, homophobia is an entrenched bad idea we're trying to shake off.

As for the supposedly violent character of Islam: oh, please.

"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword."

Most religions that have been around for a while have both violent and nonviolent tendencies. This is convenient for propaganda purposes, as it means you can characterize your targets as malign, bloodthirsty crazies (violent), or as god-ridden, spineless, and fatalistic (peaceful), or as dashingly militaristic like the knights of old (violent, but on your side), or as simple, humble, unworldly children (peaceful, and you're using them as an excuse to send troops).

Given the way Tony Blair (Anglican, later Catholic) and Dubya Bush (some kind of Methodist) lied themselves blue in the face to justify their destructive, bloody, and wholly unjustified invasion of Iraq, we should probably wait a few decades before characterizing other faiths and peoples as inherently violent.

Over the last few decades, most of the violent terrorist attacks that have happened in the United States were committed by white, nominally Christian, native-born American citizens. Very little has been done about that. Meanwhile, US security organizations have primarily focused their efforts on POCs with foreign-sounding names.

If the idea that Islam isn't outstandingly and particularly violent comes as a surprise to you, you need to do some reading. For starters, I recommend you look up Santiago Matamoros, the Second Crusade sermons of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales, Fox's Book of Martyrs, both/all sides of the appalling Thirty Years War, and the Atlantic's article about why Mormons don't like Donald Trump. If you run dry after that, let me know and I'll give you pointers to some non-Abrahamic religions.

#92 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2016, 12:46 PM:

Esteemed James Harvey --

Mateen declared his allegiance to Hezbollah long before the event, and to ISIS on the day. As I'm sure you know, self-affiliating with both is like vowing loyalty to Queen Elizabeth and the IRA. And when you look at where his time and effort were spent, radical Islamic political organizations come up short.

If there's a pattern, it's people who knew him -- from elementary school classmates to recent co-workers -- describing him as angry, defiant, and difficult. As he got older, they added agitated, hateful, racist, and steroid user. He was fascinated by cops and guns. He beat his first wife and married a second, meanwhile spending a lot of time hanging around the Orlando gay scene. He got blackout drunk, and was violent when he did. He worked a low-level security job for the company formerly known as Wackenhut, which is not quite a cliché but comes close.

Mateen was an angry guy who fed his own anger and finally exploded. I honestly can't see what Islam had to do with any of it.

Way too many Americans already believe violent retaliation is an appropriate response to people who scare them, no matter what the people in question are actually doing at the time. They can't locate anything from Azerbaijan to Bangladesh on a globe, and they have no idea what real terrorists think or do.

I'd just as soon not find out what they might do if they get any more scared.

#93 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2016, 12:49 PM:

KeithS., go if you feel you need a break, but please don't go too far.

#94 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2016, 01:37 PM:


I think there is a set of messed up people, usually men and usually relatively young, who are angry at life, filled with rage (probably more for internal psychological reasons than for reasons of culture or situation. These guys usually look like losers in the grand scheme of life--no job or low-level crappy job, don't really fit, maybe mentally ill, few friends, failed or no romantic relationship. That's a pretty big set, and most of them will never do anything really awful. But the potential is there.

And this is where the cultural script comes in. There's a cultural script for "going postal." There's a certain glamor to it--if you look at the images on the TV after a mass shooting, wherever possible they play up the dangerous tough-guy imagery, talking about "lone wolves," etc. The potential to go off and kill people in your rage and despair is inherent in being a human, but the cultural script makes it easy for someone inclined in that direction to say "Ah, that's what I'll do," and then go plan and carry out a massacre. I speculate that a big part of the appeal of this is that you get to see yourself, not as a marginal member of society or a loser, but rather as a scary rage-filled lone-wolf, a sort of anti-hero that's going to go out in a blaze of glory and terror. Everyone will know your name and face, and tremble. And that's a lot more appealing as a self-image than thinking that nobody will know your name or think of you as anything more than some loser who can barely hold down a job and keeps getting busted for beating up his wife.

A second cultural script has spun up over the last few years, specific to Muslims. It says that you don't have to see yourself as a small-time criminal or failure (or just someone who's got a boring unrewarding job and no distinction in life), you can be part of the great cause of global jihad. In Europe, that seems to have been effective in helping some terrorist groups build up networks and carry out some major attacks. A variant of this leads the young men (and women, sometimes) to try to go join up with ISIS.

In the US, there seems to be a variant that merges the two cultural scripts. I'm not just shooting up a bar because I'm a violent loser who's getting even with life, I'm part of something greater. Everyone will know my name and fear me! This guy, the San Bernardino shooters, the Ft Hood shooter, that other guy who shot up a recruiting station--those roughly fit this pattern.

In the US, the loners seem to actually get a higher body count nowadays than the guys who try to join the global jihad somehow--I suspect this reflects both the tendency of your fellow Muslims in the US to turn you in, and the extensive surveillance and infiltration of the Muslim community in the US. A guy who makes a lot of noises about jihad is likely to end up being befriended by an undercover FBI agent or informant and talked into one of those plots where the feds provide the fake bombs and the timetable, and arrest the participants the day they start taking actions toward carrying out the plot.

The thing is, this kind of cultural script seems like it can rise very quickly--the set of susceptible people quickly catch onto the idea. I think this is the case with mass shootings generally in the US. I suspect it's also the case with Islamic terrorism--that's clearly not something inherent in the religion (which has been around a long time), but rather a cultural thing that has arisen and caught on.

#95 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2016, 01:51 PM:

It's reasonable to criticize social movements, religions, political movements, etc., when you think their ideas or actions are bad ones. That's very different from blaming members of such groups for an atrocity committed by one of their members.

I'm Catholic. You can reasonably complain about my church's teachings w.r.t. acceptance of homosexuality (and many other things). You can reasonably ask why I continue to adhere to a faith that has such teachings in it. We may disagree on the right set of beliefs or the right response to them, but it's at least the kind of discussion that makes some sense. You can also reasonably point out things I'm doing that are hurting people, or that the Church is doing.

Tomorrow it could happen that a Catholic shoots up a gay bar and proclaims (just before the shooting) that he's doing it because God hates gays. If it does, my claim is that:

a. You learn nothing more about my beliefs, or those of Catholics in general, from this.

b. It makes no sense at all to blame Catholics or the Catholic Church for an atrocity like that, particularly since like 99.9% of Catholics (in and out of the Church hierarchy) are appalled by it.

c. If you want to convince Catholics to reconsider our beliefs or teachings w.r.t gay rights, I think starting by telling us we're responsible for that hypothetical atrocity is probably not very effective. My first thought would be that the charge is unfair as hell[1], and probably I'd not be listening after that. It kind-of poisons the rest of the conversation.

[1] I think that when it's someone else's religion being attacked in this way, so I'm pretty certain to think that if it is my religion being attacked.

#96 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2016, 02:08 PM:

Thanks all. I'm going to take a break from this right now if that's OK.

Apart from anything else, I *really* don't think that Islamism is a *primary* driver for this atrocity - I just think it should probably be on the list, somewhere, not completely excluded ab initio as some were suggesting. If I continue to argue this point, that gives it an emphasis I don't think it deserves.

So perhaps instead I will leave with John Scalzi's excellent post. Apologies if it's already been posted upthread.

Actually, no need to apologise: it bears repeating.

#97 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2016, 05:36 PM:

To anybody who got married about this time last year because at last they could: Happy approximate anniversary!

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