49 dead. 53 injured. 25 still fighting for their lives in the hospitals in Florida. The worst massacre on United States soil since 9/11. Hate was the foundation for both 9/11 and the massacre in Orlando. On 9/11, people felt they had the right to “punish” the United States; that they were called by their “God” to do so. In Orlando, one man felt he had the right to “punish” people because they dared to show affection in public, and they happened to be gay. (Think how often you have kissed your loved, touched your loved one, in public…)
In spite of the Supreme Court decision on June 26, 2015 to be openly LGBTQ is still dangerous—not in some foreign nation, but right here in the United States.
Haters still cling to expressing their hatred in a number of ways. It is manifested by government officials refusing to issue a marriage license the looks the same as any heterosexual couples marriage license (one state issues a different looking marriage license for lesbian and gay couples). In some states, such as North Carolina, that hate is manifested in a wide variety of government-sanctioned ways, one of which is a restaurant owner hiding behind his Christianity can refuse to serve LGBT people. In several states that do not explicitly forbid discrimination against LGBTQ people, an employer can fire a lesbian or gay employee who gets married and asks to have her/his wife/husband covered by the employer’s insurance; or an apartment manager can evict a lesbian or gay family. Some states do not allow lesbian or gay couples to foster or adopt abandoned children.
On Sunday, June 12, 2016, around 2:40 a.m., as a crowded, LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, Florida served its last round a man with a semi-automatic AR-15 that had the capacity to rapid fire 20 or more rounds–an assault weapon usually carried by the military in war zones; the same type of weapon that massacred people Aurora, Colorado and Newtown, Connecticut. and San Bernadino, California–manifested his hate with a spray of deadly bullets.
For over three hours, people in that nightclub did not know whether they would live or die. One young man texted his mother: “in the bathroom” and a little later, “I’m gonna die”. He never made it home. A 22-year-old man had gone to the nightclub to listen to salsa music with his boyfriend. His bullet-riddled body was one of the ones carried out. A 31-year-old woman was dancing with her girlfriend when the shooting erupted. A 49-year-old heterosexual woman had gone to the club with her 21-year-old gay son. She had survived cancer twice; she didn’t survive the massacre.
Some political candidates–instead of focusing on the victims–are using this massacre to increase more hate. They want us to believe these kind of things are only perpetrated by Muslims associated with Islamic Terrorists and that therefore we should take strict measures against those who are Muslim, including banning their immigration into the United States. Unfortunately, the man responsible for the mass murders in Aurora, Colarado in 2012 was Caucasian and had no affiliation with Muslims or Islam; the boy who killed 20 6-and-7-year-old children and six adults was likewise Caucasian and had no affiliation with the Islamic Terrorists. In 2014, a young man murdered women and men because “women rejected his advances and sexually-active men had a more fun life than he did”. No affiliation with Islamic Terrorists. Men who proclaim to be Christians have routinely murdered black men and women and children since the days of slavery and the only organization with which they are affiliated is the Ku Klux Klan. Other radical, Christian groups have also periodically targeted blacks, LGBTQ people and others who were different than themselves.
These killings are not about religion; they are about hate. It is as simple as that. People who hate and have access to assault weapons can do more damage more quickly than those who do not have access to assault weapons. It is a simple equation even for someone like myself who “doesn’t do math”.
(NOTE:I believe in the right to own handguns, rifles and shotguns. Own a few myself; even have a Concealed Carry Permit. But civilians have no need to own assault weapons whose only use is to kill a massive number of people in as little time as possible without the need to reload frequently!)
The scary thing is this: for the past month I have been working on a new novel for my Special Crimes Team series. The working title is Eve of Destruction. It is about people who despise those who are not like them and make a decision to physically attack those people simply for the “crime” of being different.
I began writing Eve of Destruction in response to having a major political election with a candidate who preaches hate and discrimination. Such high level propagation of misogyny, racial bigotry, and religious hate is bound to fuel the hate and violence of those who already walk a fine line between civility and violence.
Although my Special Crimes Team series dissects serious issues in our society (as well as presenting a edge-of-the-seat mystery), my natural optimism always shows itself in my work. At the end, those who had been hard beset find ways to overcome.
While I read about the massacre in Florida, the death, the dying, the senseless violence, the hate of one man, I also read about victims who instead of blindly running away helped other victims escape; people who tore off their shirts to bind someone else’s wounds. I read about candlelight vigils and those who reached out to victims and their families and friends. I read about the real people; the everyday people of the United States, and that made me proud to live here, to be a U.S. citizen. It seems that regardless of how ugly a few people can get; how they can manifest their hatred of women, blacks, Latinos, LGBTQ, and anyone different than themselves there are others who remind me that people are often beautiful, brave, generous, and kind.
This is what keeps me optimistic. And it is this optimism that prevails in my work and my life. Though the massacre of innocent people occurs, and has been occurring with a frightening regularity in recent years, I believe that the people of the United States are basically good people; kind and just people. I believe that those people of common sense and basic human decency will overcome the haters.
DON’T speak his name! Instead #SpeakNamesOfTheVictims!
DON’T LET HATE WIN! LOVE CAN OVERCOME!