The Father, the Son, and the semi-automatic assault rifle

I’ve been struggling with what to say about Orlando. I have so much sadness but it’s mixed with so much anger that I can’t tell them apart. They taste the same in my mouth. I need a word for that. A word that means, “sorrowful rage.”

I hear this massacre isn’t an LGBTQ thing. It’s about mental illness or religious radicalism or easy access to firearms in a country awash in them, but it could have happened anywhere. A movie theater or a coffee house or a sports arena. It’s distasteful for gays to make this about them. But it didn’t happen in any of those places. It happened in a gay nightclub because it was a gay nightclub. Of course, this event is about mental illness and religious radicalism and too many guns, but it’s also very much about being LGBTQ. The hatred for LGBTQ people is the thread that ties all those other things together in this case. No, not thread. Rainbow ribbon.

The shooter, it is now reported, frequented the club and was active on gay hook-up apps like Grindr. He liked the boys and liked dick. Maybe not to the exclusion of women, but he was definitely on the Kinsey scale above a one. And he hated himself for it. Hated himself so much. Why? Where does that come from? My kids don’t hate gay people. They don’t fear them. One of my kids identifies as bisexual and does so in a very open and heathy way. Why are my kids well-adjusted about sexuality while the shooter in Orlando was as unadjusted as possible?

Religion.

His faith teaches that gays are an abomination. Subhuman. He was raised being told that by his clergy and his dad. By his friends. But it’s what he was. This kind of cognitive dissonance will make some people kill themselves. Some others will live sad, stunted, hateful lives. Others, the fortunate few, will come out from under the spell and build a life of freedom from religious bullshit filled with love and friends. A few buy assault rifles and walk into gay nightclubs to kill as many people they can. Literally killing the part of them they’ve been taught to hate. To abhor. There is a grim logic in their actions.

Impossibly, I find myself feeling sorry for the shooter. For the pain he endured and the pain he caused as a result. I didn’t think it possible. I don’t know where it comes from. But there it is. The fact that he clumsily associated himself with those who personify on earth the extreme intolerance for things like homosexuality was nothing more than an attempt to find a fire hot enough to burn it out of himself. But this isn’t about ISIS. They’re a bit player in the drama and are accidentally benefiting from the kind of publicity they crave.

So I am not actually mad at the shooter. But I am mad. Furious. Seething. At who?


On Saturday, Mike Huckabee and those like him, if asked, would have told you gay people are going to burn in hell for their perversion. That their push for marriage equity would destroy the family and a trans person’s need to urinate  would lead to children being molested and woman attacked. On Sunday, though, he was praying for them as victims. In the fucked up algebra of a far-right shitbag, the only thing that’s worse than a club full of happy faggots is a radicalized Muslim shooting at them. Good to know.

While the good governor was running for US President last year, he and fellow governor Bobby Jindal and Senator Ted Cruz shared a stage with a man named Kevin Swanson who literally called for gays to be put to death. Today. In America. He didn’t say it at some fuzzy distant time. He said it that fucking day just before inviting the three of them onstage to share in the limelight. And they just let him. Because political points are worth more than the lives of LGBTQ people. Because pandering to a hateful audience of zealots, calling for innocent people to be killed for how they were born, is the course of action most expedient to gain their support.

And then these sons of bitches have the fucking nerve to PRAY for the victims. The shooter was Muslim, but he was playing their tune. And so they prayed. For the victims. The ones they either explicitly or implicitly called for. Mike gets the spotlight here, but he’s hardly alone. Any moralistic asshole in government who grovels for votes and campaign contributions from radical Christians and then decries the very acts their benefactors called for the day before is a sad, disgusting son of a bitch. The blood of the victims in Orlando is on their hands. It’s on their clothes and fills their shoes. It’s soaked through their very souls.

And it’s not a fringe thing with the Christians. Today, Pat Robertson on The 700 Club said, “The left is having a dilemma of major proportions and I think for those of us who disagree with some of their policies, the best thing to do is to sit on the sidelines and let them kill themselves.” Someone’s going to need to give me a decoder ring or something because I can’t tell the radical Christians from the supposed “normal” ones.

But, you might say to me, I’m a Christian. I’m not like that. We’re not all radical nut jobs. Problem is, as a person with many Christian friends and who’s active on social media, I never see one of them calling these bastards out. I never see them say they’re perverting the word of Christ. I see Muslims dragged out before cameras every time one of theirs loses his shit or ISIS or whoever bombs a plane or shoots a passerby. That’s expected and required, though many non-Muslims will still try and frame Islam as a religion of hate and violence. As if their holy hands are clean, which they are not. Not even a little. But the only time my Christian friends come out and say anything is when they’re afraid of being lumped in with those who are damaging their holy brand. And they do it without any self-awareness that it’s the exact same fucking thing they do to Muslims every goddamned day.

Jon Stewart once said, “Religion. It’s given people hope in a world torn apart by religion.” And we laughed. But it’s true. It’s fucking crystal truth. Our love of imaginary sky friends and the things we invented for them to say outweighs our own humanity. Our human decency. Our fear of death causes us to make a deal with the proverbial devil to despise and distrust and dehumanize others whose holy texts tell them to hate and distrust and do violence in only slightly different ways. I’m sick to death of it. Almost literally to death. Had I been in that nightclub, it could have meant my death.

There are 49 dead people in Orlando who were in their safe place. The place where they could be themselves and celebrate that and each other. And a religious nut job came in and slaughtered them. And he did it for his god. The same way Pat Robertson and Kevin Swanson think it should happen. The very same. They are the same.

6 thoughts on “The Father, the Son, and the semi-automatic assault rifle

  1. I struggled mightily with a way to add to this discussion constructively. Alas, I’m not even going to try. Suffice to say that the single biggest thing I learned this week is there no longer appears to be a way to hold constructive discussion or debate in this country any longer.

      1. You must not be reading the comments on literally anything published in the last 3 days. Yours is the correct view and everyone else is a racist bigot.

      2. Or a gun nut slave to the NRA. Honestly, what line of debate that is even slightly right of center would you entertain at this point ?

  2. Any action based on, or justified by a religious ideology is almost immune to reason. But this was the act of one deluded individual, who couldn’t cope with his own sexuality and simply went crazy. It does not define a whole religion.

    This isn’t proof that belief itself is crazy; it IS proof that belief requires a lot of compassion and tolerance (including for oneself) or it becomes lethality dangerous. When you consider how many people have a sincere religious belief; the quality of compassion and tolerance required to keep the rest of us safe is rare indeed.

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