I don’t make a habit of talking about current events or politics on here, and I also normally don’t talk much about my personal life or feelings because I see Tumblr as more or less a public place and I’m just not altogether comfortable with that. However, if you’ve been paying close attention to my rambling nonsense for a substantial period, you might have picked up that I am a gay foreigner living and studying in the United States of America. And unless you’ve been asleep for the past two days, you’ve probably heard something (perhaps courtesy of this very website) about this country’s new “high score” for mass shootings, which took place on Sunday morning in Orlando, Florida at a gay nightclub. So this is one of those times when not talking about it feels, in itself, like taking a position, and it’s not a position I like, so you’ll just have to put up with me for a minute.
Because it is just a little disconcerting, living in a country that believes having the power to indiscriminately murder people is a fundamental right, and being part of a group that many citizens of said country would love to indiscriminately murder, especially when you come from a country that is, we flatter ourselves, rather more enlightened about this sort of thing. I’m not going to claim that New Zealand is perfect, or a utopia for queer people, because in many ways it certainly isn’t, but you’re dealing more with a sort of lingering sense of vague cultural unease about gay people than with, say, a man with an assault rifle. And as a result of my particular circumstances and extraordinary good luck, I can claim to be one of those rare gay men who has never directly faced discrimination or persecution for my sexuality (even since moving to the US). So, as you might imagine, to be confronted with the story of 50 people who were straight up murdered for it is a bit of a guilt trip. Why the hell do I get to live, when they all died? What did I ever do to deserve never having had to fight? Where was I when the shit hit the fan? All of which is why I have to talk about this, of course.
And is anyone really surprised by this? When you have people constantly screaming that LGBT people are against nature, unclean, out to convert your children, bringing down the wrath of God upon the country, or whatever nonsense it is this time, is anyone even slightly shocked when some unhinged lunatic decides to start using them for target practice? When one of the two major political parties has, as part of its platform, the implicit assumption that we’re the ones who’ve been ruining everything, what else can you even hope for? Because that is what this about. Yes, the guy was a Muslim, yes, his parents were Afghani, but he was born in New York and grew up in the United States; he was a goddamn US citizen, not one of those Syrian refugees or Mexican immigrants this country is so bloody scared of. Yes, ISIS has “claimed” him since the attack, yes, he seems to have been an ISIS sympathiser, but there’s no evidence that he ever actually had any contact with them or was acting on anyone’s orders. According to his father (who is no saint himself), he had seen two men kissing in public a few weeks earlier and was disgusted by it, and outraged that his own son had seen it as well. His reaction was extreme, but that attitude, let’s face it, was not. Not by this country’s standards, at least.
Then of course there’s the obsession with guns, this notion that not being able to own a goddamn assault rifle is an attack on your personal freedom, because of course if you outlaw guns then only outlaws will have guns. This is just bizarre to me because I come from a country where we have very stringent gun control laws, where normal people in urban areas do not own firearms, and yet, somehow, we are not all at the mercy of violent uzi-toting street gangs. I grew up “across the ditch,” as we say, from a country that used to have US-style mass shootings, then (in the aftermath of the 1996 Port Arthur massacre) introduced stringent gun laws, at which point the mass shootings miraculously stopped. I’m told that what works for one country won’t work for another because the US is just so different, which I can only interpret as meaning that the speaker thinks Americans are inherently violent and irrational. Maybe that’s true but it strikes me as a pessimistic estimation of one’s own people. “Only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun (i.e. if only the bartender had whipped out a kalashnikov, this could all have been prevented).” When has a good guy with a gun ever stopped something like this? “This is really a mental health issue.” Absolutely it’s a mental health issue, but pointing out that your country is horrifyingly inept at helping the mentally ill doesn’t excuse it from also being horrifyingly inept at keeping people from being murdered by the dozen. “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Well, sure, but I think the gun helps; try a mass stabbing some time and see if you can rack up as many points. If you live in a rural area, particularly if there are dangerous wild animals around, sure, maybe you keep a hunting rifle or a shotgun or whatever; you need that, you probably know how to use it safely, fine. But no-one who is not a soldier needs a bloody assault rifle. No-one in the world. All of that in service of this schizophrenic outdated revolutionary ideology that you should have the physical capability to rebel against the government if the whim strikes you – a government which, I might point out here, has drones, tanks, jet fighters, and nukes; stop bloody kidding yourself before your ridiculous commando fantasy gets someone kil- oh, look at that, too fucking late.
And then just to add insult to injury, the same politicians who make their living telling the world that we are sexual predators and unfit to raise children, protecting the rights of lunatics to own deadly weapons, these paragons tell their people to “pray for the victims,” presumably to the God of Abraham, worshipped by Jews, Christians and Muslims alike, who has made his position on people like me abundantly clear over the last two millennia. Perhaps they’re hoping he will let a few of the victims off with a few centuries in purgatory rather than an eternity in hell.
For goodness’ sake, America.