This Land Is Or-Land-O
Did you hear about what happened in Orlando just a few days ago? No no, not the kid getting killed by an alligator at a beach that had a curious lack of “Alligators will kill your kid” signs. No, not the kind-of-big YouTube singer that got shot at a concert and reminded us of how much more sentiment we can muster for famous people. It was the other thing. The thing where fifty people were murdered by a single man, because, that’s kind of our thing now.
And it’s perfectly okay to not have heard about it, or even care about it. It’s hard to invest our emotional capital in people that we don’t know, especially when they’re hundreds of miles away from us and we’re already woozy because of all the blood we’ve donated. It’s Sunday and we have Silicon Valley to catch up on and work in the morning. We don’t want to care about guns or minority communities or terrorism because that’s more Monday-night material, which happens to be when your new profile picture will get the most likes anyway.
The Second Amendment won’t ever come down from its exalted position above the sarcophagus of Ronald Reagan and Lincoln-hat-shaped nipple clamps. And that’s strange to think about. For all the things the founding fathers were right about, they didn’t get it all right. They implicitly wrote slavery into the Constitution, John Adams was the first high-powered defense attorney, the infallible George Washington blamed his translator because he didn’t want to admit he didn’t know to read French, Alexander Hamilton shot the sitting Vice President in the face (in a weird Dick Cheney role reversal), and John Hancock was a Sparrow-esque smuggler (who, coincidentally, got off because he had John Adams to help him out) – I only made one of those up. We can barely live our lives under the jurisdiction of our parents for 18 years, and yet we’ve lived by their rules for a couple centuries. We roll our eyes when our middle-aged professor can’t handle Powerpoint, and don’t once think that the fathers were the ones that were out of touch. They couldn’t even comprehend the concept of taking a knife to a loaf of bread, yet they must have seen our societal and security infrastructure through Ben Franklin’s gigantic crystal balls. But I’ll keep my pistol underneath my pillow just in case the redcoats or Team Rocket decides to come marching down the street – or in case I want to take more than Monday off from work.
For once, I’m not trying to bring politics into this. Because it isn’t a political issue. It’s just a hate crime (Technically, me punching the guy who’s flirting with my girlfriend should be a hate crime because, well, I hate the guy. Or tax evasion should be a hate crime because I hate the government. But that’s for another time). The nightclub where this incident occurred catered primarily to the LGBT community, which seems like exactly the kind of spot you would pick to prove a point about your ideology. It’s not a political issue. It’s a love issue. And love is love is love, right? Why do we care about what these people do? Three paragraphs ago, we didn’t really care that these people died, yet we’re suddenly invested in how they lived.
Quick Tangent: Just like I will never understand the desire for a man to be a woman, I will never understand or comprehend the concept of being gay – I’ll use the latter as an example because it’s more commonplace to ‘accept’ them nowadays. I, at my core, don’t find men sexually arousing. But I don’t need to understand them to completely not give a shit that they’re gay. There is no way that I will understand what that feels like in the future, and in no situation will I ever be able to recognize the appeal. That’s not the point – I can be straight, and they can be gay, and in the unlikely case they hit on me, I’ll take it as a compliment and play along and wake up the next morning realizing that I’m bi. I can tolerate them and whatever they want to do. Unless they want to buy guns – women lose out when there are gay guys with guns.
When you’re disinclined to think favorably about a certain person or idea, take this into your consideration – who or what does it affect? Does it offend anyone or anything, except your personal opinion or the morality you’ve haphazardly assembled? If not, then maybe everyone else isn’t wrong in that situation.
And let’s say it does. You have every right to judge them. You don’t have to know what they’re going through to provide commentary, because it’s your commentary – you may not necessarily be right, but you’re living by your own moral code, so who gives a shit. You may be their judge, but it’s a little presumptuous to also crown you as their executioner.
Homophobia and gun violence aren’t content to live in their own circle – they might as well be conjoined twins (probably the ones that Ben Carson separated at birth). They develop because of the same underlying factors (hate), manifest themselves because of slightly different things (fear vs. power), and stick around in our memories because some dick on YouTube tries to run a “social experiment” that throws religion into the mix.
This isn’t a tragedy. It wasn’t a natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina or an accident like Adam Driver’s casting in Star Wars. It was a carefully planned, read-and-react assassination attempt. There’s a philosophy called defense-in-depth, where each barrier you place between an event and its success reduces its probability of happening. Each of these barriers have holes, surely, but you stagger the barriers to make sure the holes don’t line up. Some are going to get through, but let’s make sure the ones that do just hit our hearts – not our brains.