Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Pulse Massacre






Here’s what I know in my soul about what went down recently in that LGBTQ club in Orlando. Given the violent devotion to bigotry that formed the foundation of the US, the carnage in Orlando was inevitable. Just as the appalling body count we in the US rack up every day due to our egotistical infatuation with guns is, apparently, inevitable. Penis envy at its most deadly, I would say. The bigger the better, right? Especially when it comes to assault weapons, capable of the most mind-blowing, rapid repeat ejaculations…

Let me be clear. This is not to say that there aren’t millions of well-meaning peace-loving souls here who would rather lose a limb than hurt an innocent other; our world has legions of such selfless individuals - humanists - who understand and actively embody the moral imperative of treating others as they themselves would want to be treated.

However…

It seems to me that here in the US, our particularly tortured history of racial and cultural objectification, conquest and eradication of folks who are different makes it really hard for some to refrain from outright murdering other people’s children today. And this is not to ignore the fact that other countries have histories marked with bloodshed and that other countries are the grisly scenes of outright murder today as well. They do and they are.

But given that THIS country’s present-day existence was built upon – DEPENDED upon – the near total annihilation of countless indigenous people, we are different. Ineluctably and undeniably different in ways that contour our current take on reality. For example, as many of us instantaneously dubbed the Pulse massacre of 49 innocents the deadliest mass shooting in American history, our selective memory about the plight of indigenous people here came discursively into focus.

It’s part of the historical record, as shameful as it is, that on many occasions during the 18th and 19th centuries, whole populations of unarmed native Americans were simultaneously shot dead by whites during the storied “settlement” of the West. Might some of those massacres own the horrific title of “deadliest” shooting? Of course. Yet, where were they in our collective consciousness as we wrung our hands at the unfathomable terror in Orlando? Erased. Gone. Forgotten as usual. And perhaps this is so because - despite our howlings to the contrary - as a culture, we’re often just not willing to acknowledge the humanity of other people’s children as much as we are willing to acknowledge, and celebrate, the humanity of our own. Moreover, from an ineluctable historical vantage point, ours is a social structure based on the violent eradication of human beings we deemed expendable because of their performative difference. Too different to be allowed to exist? Gun violence seemed the go-to answer from the very beginning.




And as we have seen, this is particularly true in two particular arenas. One is the arena of race and the other is the arena of sexuality. In fact, in both of these contexts, many of us spend so much time demonizing the objects of our hatred whose race, culture and/or sexuality is different than our own that violence towards those “others” sometimes seems not so bad – after all, don’t we have our die-hard religious intolerances to fall back on as some supreme sort of unassailable justification for violence towards, in this case, LGBTQ individuals? Believe it or not, I still hear far too many folks, students of mine and others, cite that fallacious old chestnut from Leviticus about gay folk being an “abomination” as a reason to perpetrate a twisted sort of born-again bigotry.

Well, here’s the thing. Many of us have long suspected that hatred towards members of the LGBTQ community often is just a performative manifestation of the hater’s own hatred of self and whatever concerns he (and it almost invariably is a “he”) might be having about his own sexuality. So sad that, in this day and age, so many of us still refuse to believe that sexuality is inborn – innate – and that gender fluidity is a natural part of being human.


When are we going to make some positive headway here? When in the world are we going to do better? When are people’s LGBTQ children going to be able to go to a nightclub and be absolutely sure they’ll make it out alive? 

Clearly, many of them make out and back unscathed already. That glad fact notwithstanding, however, in the US, a full 22 percent of hate crimes are directed against members of the LGBTQ community. And that percentage only reflects the incidents that get reported. It's not hard to imagine that many of them don't.

Thank the Universe that atrocities such as the one that unfolded at Pulse don’t happen with still greater frequency. But if even one beloved gets gunned down in a Pulse-like massacre, for people of good conscience, the loss of that one beloved is a single loss too many. 



photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/39160147@N03/12704065705">Punisher Fail Toy, Shape Shifter Wolverine reviewed by Mike Mozart of JeepersMedia on YouTube</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">(license)</a>



photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/51035555243@N01/28409817755">The Captive Charger</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/">(license)</a>

photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/90171791@N00/1202129023" phunkt.com</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">(license)</a>