Sunday, June 12, 2016

Mass Murder: Who Will Own This Story?

A guy with a foreign-sounding name goes into a gay bar and kills more than fifty people with an AR-15, after calling 911 to say he supports ISIS.

Kills more than fifty gay people with an AR-15.

Let's talk about who is going to own this story, because this touches a lot of nerves. Right now, Sunday afternoon while they're still counting the bodies, the news is literally calling this "potential terrorism." A guy kills fifty-plus innocent people with a machine gun. What is "potential" about that? What do you have to do to qualify as terrorism, if killing fifty-something random strangers isn't it?

Some people have been saying for a while that we need to control guns. Some say there is no practical reason why a normal citizen would need to have a gun like this, that can fire up to nine hundred rounds of deadly lead per minute. Some others talk about requiring some level of competency or certification, or a clean bill of mental health, before you can get a gun. It has been proposed that gun owners should have insurance, like car insurance, in case their gun does some damage. Someone from the other side is sure to say that this would have turned out better if the gay people in the bar were also carrying semi-automatic weapons.

Do you think the gun-control messengers are going to own this story? No, I don't think so, either.

Today gay people are grieving. This was an attack by a homophobe whose father says he was upset when he saw two men kissing. He deliberately targeted a gay bar during Pride Week, and killed as many people as he could. I heard a gay spokesman saying on the radio that gays have always been the targets of violence, and that politicians who enact anti-gay bills are as responsible for this massacre as anyone. The disk jockey cut off the interview at that point and went on to something else.

Do you think LGBT people are going to own this story? No, I don't either.

Experts on terrorism are already telling us how many terrorist attacks there have been and warning that it is getting worse. This guy does have a foreign-sounding name -- his parents came from Afghanistan -- and he apparently told 911 that he supports ISIS. On the other hand, family members say he was not religious and did not show any interest in political or ideological things. They are as surprised as anyone else by what he did.

Who is going to own this story? Clue -- here is CNN's current headline: 50 killed in Florida nightclub, shooter pledged ISIS allegiance.

No gun, no gay. ISIS allegiance.

This story is going to be stoked and maintained in the interest of continuing Americans' fear and hatred of Muslims. It will be used to justify electing crazy paranoid leaders and attacking distant foreign countries. It will be used to increase surveillance and decrease civil rights. It will generate trillions of dollars of profits for defense contractors and lead to American lives being lost in battle, wherever it is that "we" decide to retaliate.

There are a lot of lessons in this incident, a lot to be learned. Why in the world does anyone own a gun like that? Why in the world are we still arguing about whether it's all right to be gay? Why, when someone goes on a murderous homophobic rampage, do we focus on his religion and one unsubstantiated statement that rationalizes American bellicosity?

The media are going to make this a story about Islamic terrorism. That's the world we have made for ourselves.