The US has just experienced their worst mass shooting in history. Again. This time, a guy shot and killed 50 people and injured more than 50 more, when he decided to go into a gay bar in Orlando and just shoot people. With an assault rifle and a hand gun.
This comes just short days after a judge gave a very lenient sentence to a student who was convicted of raping a woman on campus.
I’m not usually all that political. Unless I know you well, I am unlikely to talk politics with you, because I don’t like conflict all that much and I generally want people to like me. And talking politics, especially on the internet, is a surefire way to inspire all kinds of asshattery and I generally don’t want my blood pressure to go up that much.
But now I am just sad and sick and really pissed off.
I am tired of living in a society where in response to a campaign like “Black Lives Matter” people respond by saying “All Lives Matter”, when what they really mean is that all lives matter, but some lives matter more than others.
White lives matter more than black (or aboriginal, or Latino, or anything other than white) lives.
Men’s lives matter more than women’s lives.
Straight lives matter more than gay lives.
Cis lives matter more than transgender lives.
“Normal” people’s lives matter more than mentally ill people’s lives.
Nobody wants to openly admit that they feel this way, but they do.
US prisons are full of black men who have been convicted of minor offenses, while these same prisons are deemed “too dangerous” for violent white rapists. All lives matter, but white lives matter more than black lives.
Female victims of rape are told that they could have prevented their own rape by not drinking so much. While drinking too much is used as an excuse for the men who committed the rape. “It’s horrible what happened to her, but it could have been prevented if she had been more responsible and not drank so much,” say the assholes trying to hide behind the veil of sympathy. And then those same people say, “Well he was drunk, he can’t be held responsible for his actions.” I want to know why those people don’t say “maybe he shouldn’t have gotten drunk so he wouldn’t have raped her.” Why are women held responsible for the actions of men? Never mind the fact that being drunk doesn’t cause a man to rape someone. Being an entitled douchebag living in a society that excuses every bit of assholic behaviour as “boys will be boys” causes some men to think that they can just have what they want. I have been drunk on a fair number of occasions, and never, not even once, did I lose track of right from wrong. Nor have any of the fairly large number of friends and family members who I have seen drunk. All lives matter, but men’s lives matter more than women’s lives.
“I’m okay with gay people, I just don’t see why they have to flaunt it.” “I’m fine with gay people, but marriage is between a man and a woman, so I don’t support gay marriage.” “Maybe if gay people weren’t so flamboyant, they wouldn’t make themselves targets of violence.” Maybe straight people should be happy that they don’t need parades and movements and visibility just to be accepted for being a different kind of human. All lives matter, but straight lives matter more than gay lives.
“Allowing transgender people to use the washroom of their choice will bring creeps into the women’s washroom.” “No, I don’t mean that transgender people are perverts, just that it will allow the perverts to take advantage. I have to protect my girls.” Never mind that the risk of someone being assaulted by a man in the women’s public bathroom (with or without bathroom laws) is practically non-existent compared to the very real and persistent risk of a trans person being assaulted in any public bathroom. Or on the street for that matter. But never mind, because cis lives matter more than trans lives. Your cis kid’s life matters more than my trans kid’s life.
We make a big deal out of tell people to reach out for help when they are depressed or anxious or suicidal. And still, we say “happiness is a choice, you need to choose to be happy.” Or we say “he chose to end his life, he didn’t die of natural causes,” and “suicide is a selfish choice.” And we say “anti-depressants are shit, have you tried exercise and fresh air and a gluten free diet?” And we fail to put our money where our mouths are when the average psychologist costs up to $200 an hour (or more), and most employer health care plans max out after a couple of visits. And waiting lists for any kind of subsidized or fully covered mental health care are years long. But hey, “normal” lives matter more than mentally ill lives.
People are mostly reacting to these recent events in all the ways you’d hope of a civilized society. They are outraged and shocked and saddened. They send prayers and good thoughts to the victims.
People talk about needing gun reform in the US.
People blame mental illness for all this violence.
It seems like people have missed the fact that this is about hate.
Mental illness isn’t responsible for hate.
And as much as I agree that getting a gun in much of the US is ridiculously easy, and that gun violence would go down if guns were more difficult to get, and that the US is in serious need of gun reform, in the end, guns aren’t responsible for hate.
And outrage and sympathy and good thoughts and prayers are lovely, but they aren’t enough to counteract the hate.
We actually need to do something.
I’m tired and sad, but more than that, bigger than that, I am angry. I am angry that the world I live in is like this. But mostly, I am angry at myself. That my fear of conflict, my wanting to be liked, to get along with people, to not rock the boat, has caused me to be silent in the face of hate and intolerance and misogyny.
And so, I will start with me. I will speak up and speak out against these things. And if I lose some friends in the process, I will know that they weren’t really friends to begin with, and that they certainly aren’t people I need in my life.
I will stand up for love, and acceptance, and inclusion and against hate and intolerance. And I hope that you will stand with me.