The Orlando Shootings

My dear readers, we have been alive to hear of the latest and most horrific mark on the honour of the United States, the worst mass shooting in all of American history in terms of sheer numbers. 50 dead, 53 injured. If you are still unaware of this story, in the early hours of Sunday (2:00AM local time), a gunman opened fire in a gay club in Orlando, Florida. The man was armed with an assault rifle and opened fire on a venue said to be hosting more than 300 people inside as part of a Latin themed event. At 2:09AM, the official Facebook page of the club instructed everyone to run away and keep running. The man took hostages and holed himself up inside the club, before police resorted to using explosives to create a hole in the wall of the building and storm inside. The gunman was shot and killed, though not before apparently declaring his allegiance to IS. Make no mistake, this story must not fade from our memories, this must be remembered as both a human tragedy and an LGBT tragedy.

The news have been eager to deflect on the LGBT angle, calling this a tragedy committed against people as a whole, rather than against a community but that is unfair. If a gunman shot down 50 Jewish people, we’d call them anti-semitic. If a gunman shot down 50 church-goers, we’d call them an antitheist. If you are considering a tragedy such as this, it is important we know who committed it and against whom and in this scenario, this man opened fire on a known LGBT venue – this is hate crime. You could try and argue that it being a gay bar, as opposed to a normal bar, doesn’t give it any extra weight to the story but the difference is more palpable than many of us can relate to. A gay bar is not just a watering hole for a community, it’s a sanctuary, it’s a place where you are the norm. As straight white people, you can walk into almost anywhere in the Western hemisphere and feel that you are the social default, the definition of ‘normal’. Gay bars, black churches, Muslim neighbourhoods, you might feel walking into such places as a straight white person puts you ill-at-ease but that is because you are walking into a different community, a community of people who adhere to different ways of life or look different to you but have banded together with those like themselves to look out for each other. In a world where there have been attacks on Sikhs just for wearing turbans and thus, being assaulted as ‘terrorists’, many of us want to be in a safe familiar setting where the man sat opposite us looks like us or thinks like us. A gay bar is just that, a place to deviate from the expected-heteronormative and not be judged for it.

IS have claimed they were behind this, whilst groups such as Westboro Baptist Church call this the wrath of God. Me, I call bullshit, I think IS wants to label any act of hatred or destruction as their work to make us scared and ignorant, to make us think they have power over us when in fact, they are nothing more than rag-tag thugs exploiting opportunities as they arise for lack of a better strategy, a cult of twisted madmen playing themselves up as the heralds of the apocalypse. Still, we expect this of them, they are profiteering hate-mongers wanting us to cast out our Islamic brothers and sisters into their receiving arms, that they might manipulate their resentments into weaponised anger. This gunman claims his allegiance to them but the FBI themselves have found no link, this is more than likely a blame-shift to the IS because you hear IS, your racist buddy hears “Syrian immigrant”. If you ask me, this is one man, one twisted man, using the assault rifle his country’s laughable laws allow him access to, as a means of executing a vendetta he has against those different to him. Also, funny coincidence, funny being extremely facetious, that the worst mass shootings in recent memory were against a gay bar, a planned parenthood clinic and an all-black church service, these seem like the communities another cult of hatred would like to see gone and I don’t mean IS.

Worst of all, in reaction to this, even worse than the news channels saying “This isn’t an LGBT tragedy, don’t politicise this (which I’ll address next)”, was Trump. Donald Trump, the pile of human excrement, has said this is what should lead Obama to resign for refusing to admit that this was the work of Islam and has decided to resort to “I told you so”, saying had the US tightened its borders, this wouldn’t have happened. First of all Trump, you sputum-sucking sack of horse shit, the gunman was an American-born man so that doesn’t work and secondly, he was not indoctrinated by some foreigner coming in and egging him on, he was inspired by online content and his own personal disgust for the LGBT community, his own father said so. I cannot be civil when it comes to Trump, the man is a buffoon to say the very least but to take a tragedy and use it as a moment to boast that you were the prophet of this, he is not only a buffoon but an amoral pus-filled sore on the face of the United States of America.

Politicise this, I said this of Paris attacks, I will say it of this, this is a matter to get worked up about. Be angry that the media is overlooking what this venue once meant to the LGBT community, be angry that the far-right feels the victims were struck down by God, be angry that the US is so backwards, an assault rifle is fine but an abortion is murder. Our modern world forgets things fast, we digest what we can and leave things behind, be it memes, memories or stories of tragedy but not this one. Almost twice as many people died in this attack as in the Sandy Hook shootings, more than twelve times as many people were injured in this attack as in the Binghamton shootings, this is not some bullshit story about a Kardashian or a Game of Thrones twist nobody saw coming, we are not going to just talk about this for a week and then move on to the uplifting story of a pug that rescued a drowning kitten or whatever, we are going to demand justice.

Now that I have you riled up or afraid, let me end on this note that I want all of you to remember, especially those of the LGBT community. In the wake of this, you may find yourself scared and uncertain of the future, you may want answers or vengeance or security. Firstly remember that your enemy is never a religion or a race, all religions and races are capable of good and bad. You may have friends or neighbours who are Muslim and feeling vulnerable so I implore you to reach out to them. Secondly, do not let this fear rule you. The LGBT flag is a rainbow, reflecting all the colours of the sexual spectrum, a world beyond the black and white of the gender and sexual binary but the colours stand for more than that, they stand for hope, pride and freedom. If you let this tragedy scare you into being someone different, terrorism has defeated you. Don’t shy away from going out. Go out more. Have some fucking sensational parties and drink to those who aren’t there to share the drinks with you, to the siblings you never met or the siblings that the hate in this world stole from you. Be louder, be prouder, be especially queer and never let hatred win.

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Free to Speak

Trigger Warnings – Some strong language/use of racial slur (No, I’m not being racist, I’m remarking on a racist attitude, don’t worry)

Hello readers. First off, I’m going to start with a little blog update for those of you not following me on Facebook (which you totally should do by the way, I’ll put the link at the end of the article) but basically to make this blog a little more engaging for my readers and a bit easier to follow, I might start doing themed days on here and on my Facebook page – Throwback Thursday immediately springs to mind to roll out classic gems, Totally Obscure Tuesday sounds like a fun way for me to blog about stuff I like whilst giving people a chance to give it a miss or expand their horizons but basically that’s all that comes to mind so far, too rigid a schedule limits the room for creativity and since I am not psychic, I can’t predict when blog worthy news will crop up and so if I dedicate every Friday to posts about films, I might miss my chance to write a topical post on something a bit more compelling. News for everyone though, as the year is almost out I plan to do 2014 in review, a brief look back at the biggest issues of the year and how this year went for me (Spoiler alert, kind of a weird year). With that out of the way, let’s move onto the topic for today shall we?

A bar owner made headlines in Australia today for displaying a sign saying ‘No Muslims’ outside of his bar, the chalkboard notice making a joke about how Jesus turned water into wine and how his bartenders have a similarly magical power, they turn money into beer (Contain your laughter, please, I know that’s true shining originality) but the sign ended with a little side note of ‘No Muslims’ and in the space of 24 hours, the bar received 200 complaints. Naturally, after such a prompt and aggressive backlash, the owner scrubbed the message from the board and had to make a public apology… or at least, he was supposed to.

‘While the great majority are in support of free speech and are of patriotic sentiment, we have fielded too many abusive and threatening calls. For this I apologise to my family. I sincerely hope I don’t end up sanitising my every thought to the robotic degree that is evident in commercial life around us. The story, if there is one, is in the reaction, not the action.’

Does that sound like an apology to you? Granted, he apologised to his family for making them deal with the backlash of his poor taste in humour but has he apologised to anyone offended by the joke? No. The mayor of the town, Longreach, in which the bar is established, seemed embarrassed by this man’s faux-pas and tried to stress that the town as a whole isn’t that ignorant, which is fair enough, it’s not fair to judge the town by one person. My issue is how the blame for this crass joke, in the owner’s mind, is the public, the people of Longreach are at fault for not finding his attempt at humour humorous and he’s more worried about political correctness than actually upsetting people – this is bad business and this is how to be a generally shitty person.

Firstly, let me explain once again that free speech does not mean say anything, suffer no consequences, such a system should not exist. Free speech is the right to speak and censorship is the act of subverting expression for the benefit of the common good, censorship is putting a black box over naked genitalia on TV before the watershed because it’s generally considered in everyone’s interests not to bombard children with images of penises, censorship is NOT telling someone to retract an offensive statement. Society is much more diverse than just white Christian people now so it’s hard to establish a core “This is the norm” group but us white folks, we have this tendency to think that’s still us and if we have to stop making jokes about Asians or Muslims or black people, we’re being forced into political correctness when actually what’s happening is someone is telling you to get your head out of your ass and think about someone who isn’t like you and how they might feel. A society based upon empathy would be fantastic but it’s still a long way off, ‘political correctness’ is just the effort to move closer to that form of society, instead of this common attitude of ‘Well I don’t see a problem here, it must be you’ that prevails amongst the ignorant.

As for patriotic sentiment, maybe he missed the news story that in the very same country as his bar, strangers rendezvoused with anonymous Muslim people to defend them on their commutes to and from wherever they needed to be, the patriotic sentiment of Australia aspires to be ‘All friends until proven otherwise’, not ‘We’re alright Jack, fuck you’. Of course, Australia still has the predominant male culture of cold beer, shirtless man mountains and barbecues of pure testosterone whilst women stand around in skimpy bikinis but this is a stereotype, it’s not the defining trait and even so, these stereotypical views of Australians are never portrayed as hateful and as the news recently proved, provided with a choice of retaliation or benevolence, Sydney chose the latter, Australia is trying to be the country that says ‘Maybe if we stopped treating strangers like terrorists, we’d have a better time of it?’ and that worked, it was beautiful, we were all struck with awe. So what patriotic sentiment is there in belittling a religion? Patriotism is a love of your country, if you hate change and see your country as superior, that’s beyond patriotism, that’s jingoism. Root for the home team, sure, but if you go to away games just to start riots and you beat the snot out of visitors to your stadium, do the world a favour and stop turning up at the stadium, go back to your cave, troll.

I know it’s not easy, responsibility never is but you can’t say your right to free speech is being taken from you if when you say something, it has negative consequences, the right to free speech is the right to speak, everything comes at a price. The right to bear arms is a huge thing for America but guess what? If you shoot someone, you still have to explain yourself as to why you shot them and if you respond with “It’s my right to have a gun”, they’ll respond “And if you use that gun to bring harm to others, naturally, legal consequences must follow”. Basically it boils down to having to think before you speak and this seems to be massively troublesome to a lot of us – Thinking? We didn’t do that back in the olden days, I could call a black man a gollywog with no qualms back in my day, why has it changed? It changed. Adjust. Try to see the world through the eyes of another once in a while.

Hello again readers, I hope you enjoyed that article. As always, please like, comment and share. If you want, you can now follow me on Facebook, the link will be down below for you – tell me what you think of what I post, what you want to see and do you think themed days would be a good idea for the blog? I do so love good feedback but I find I get very little of it so constructive comments are appreciated!

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