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Posted by on Jun 15, 2016 in Gays, Guns, Islam, Muslims, Politics, Terrorism | 28 comments

The Orlando Massacre for Moderates

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So it’s come to this: the founder-editor of The New Moderate is politicizing the ghastliest mass-shooting in American history. Don’t those fifty dead and fifty-three wounded souls deserve better, you ask? Don’t we need to recognize their humanity, their innocence, their senseless victimization by a crazed fanatic, the plunging of their families into unimaginable grief? Yes, of course… all in good time.

I can’t help but notice, though, that the stalwarts of the left and right immediately pounced on the news with their airtight and predictable political narratives.

“It had nothing to do with Islam,” the progressive apologists were quick to tell us. “It’s a combination of virulent anti-LGBT bigotry, lax gun control, mental health issues and toxic masculinity.” No matter that 29-year-old mass-shooter Omar Mateen, an American of Afghan parentage, affirmed his allegiance to ISIS and his solidarity with the Boston Marathon bombers during his call to 911 from a bathroom at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub. Maybe he was just affirming his Muslim street cred before the authorities closed in.

“It had nothing to do with guns,” the right-wing NRA crowd was just as quick to inform us. “Ban our assault rifles, and the guy could just as easily have used a bomb. We need to ban Muslims instead.” No matter that a mentally unstable civilian was able to purchase a weapon capable of dispatching a hundred human beings in as many seconds. Or that he was able to buy it almost as easily as he might pick up a six-pack at the local beer joint.

Once again, America’s battling tribes have lined up on opposite sides of the field, ready for a skirmish. And once again, the truth behind the news is a little more complicated than either side is willing to admit. In fact, the Orlando massacre represents a convergence of so many hot-button issues that we probably need to examine the parts before we can understand the whole.

Gun control. We don’t allow individual citizens to own tanks, bazookas or other military-grade weapons. The only purpose of semi-automatic rifles and pistols is to mow down as many victims as possible in as short a time as possible. In other words, these are weapons designed for warfare.

Second Amendment diehards will insist that citizens need such weapons in case the government turns tyrannical. Well, good luck using your Glocks and AR-15’s against state-of-the-art U.S. military hardware, folks. And think about this: the incidence of mass shootings has skyrocketed in America since semi-automatic guns became the weapon of choice for psychopaths. (Even with the federal ban on selected assault weapons in place from 1994 to 2004, most gun nuts simply sidestepped it by using legal weapons with high-capacity magazines.) With tens of millions of semi-automatic guns already in circulation, it makes more sense to ban the high-capacity clips that feed such weapons and inflict mass bloodshed.

Yes, a psychopath intent on killing prodigious numbers of his fellow humans could detonate a homemade bomb. But, as things stand, it’s so much easier to buy an assault weapon at the local gun show.

A ban on high-capacity gun clips would pose no threat to the right of Americans to own simple handguns and hunting rifles. (The Founding Fathers were thinking more in terms of muskets.) They’re free to defend their homes or venture off into the woods to murder Bambi and his friends. If they’re any good, they won’t need to fire a hundred shots in succession.

Radical Islamic terrorism. The phrase that our president dares not utter is a phrase we ignore at our own peril. Islamic jihad is real, it’s an urgent worldwide menace, and it won’t go away by itself. With a few exceptions, the bloodiest terrorist attacks of our time have been perpetrated by Muslims with a radical interpretation of Islam.

Do we blame all Muslims? Of course not. Do we blame Islam itself? That’s a little trickier. The Quran, like the Bible, is a mixed bag of wisdom, history and legend. Like the Bible, it’s full of disturbing contradictions: parts of it espouse peace and brotherhood; other verses call for intolerance and bloody vengeance against the infidels. Millions of Muslims worldwide favor the latter course.

One of those Muslims, apparently, was Omar Mateen. He worshiped at his local mosque several times a week, beat his wife and had no love for the West. He resented (understandably) the U.S. invasion of Iraq. But he also expressed support for ISIS and its bloody agenda. In fact, those may have been among his last words. He was a radical Muslim, and he shot a hundred innocent people in one explosive outburst. Was he a terrorist? Most likely, but there are other factors to complicate the story.

Mental health. Omar Mateen was, from his wife’s description, an unstable man with a violent temper. She suspected he was bipolar, and he was given to frequent rages against her. Yes, most Muslim men expect submission from their wives, but Mateen went above and beyond — especially for an American-born Muslim.

According to Mateen’s father, Omar bristled when he saw two gay men kissing in public — reportedly in front of his young son. But there’s more. Reports have emerged that Mateen actually frequented the gay nightclub he ultimately terrorized. Several witnesses reported that he’d approach men at the bar, and probably not with the intention of denouncing them in the name of Islam. He was also said to have been a presence on a gay hook-up website.

A violent, radicalized Muslim male with imperfectly repressed homosexual tendencies — we’re not looking at a good mix here. This man had to be a walking powder keg. And yet he was able to pick up an assault rifle and a semi-automatic handgun at the local shop, no questions asked.

We should be asking questions. Do we deny gun ownership to anyone who has been treated for mental illness, past or present? Do prospective gun owners need to pass an emotional fitness test? Are we intruding too much? What if they’re sane when they purchase a gun but eventually slip off the deep end? Unfortunately, there are no easy answers. We just have to conclude that guns and mental illness don’t mix.

The LGBT movement. It’s probably no accident that the Orlando massacre happened at a gay nightclub during LGBT Pride Month. (Yes, June was given that official designation.) Gay marriage, transgender bathroom rights, fifty different gender designations on Facebook — the pace of change has been breathtaking over just the past decade. I can’t blame LGBT people for wanting to celebrate.

And yet (and you probably knew there would be an “and yet”), this moderate has to wonder if the LGBT movement has gone too public, too in-your-face. Why can’t everyone just live and let live, without parading our preferences or dissing those who differ from us? Why do LGBT people need their own month, or even their own “community”? (We’re all Americans, aren’t we?) Why is it bigotry to assert that biological males shouldn’t be allowed to strip down in women’s locker rooms? Social progressives should realize that it can be difficult — especially for older people and religious people — to do a complete “180” on traditional social beliefs formed decades ago (or prescribed a few millennia ago). You can engineer legal change, but you can’t engineer attitudes. Those take time.

That said, the Orlando massacre was not only a terrorist incident but a deplorable hate crime, perpetrated by a man who likely loathed his own homosexual tendencies. Gay pride rhetoric undoubtedly helps many confused people feel more comfortable with their orientation. In Omar Mateen’s case, it might have had the opposite effect. The result was brutal, premature death for mostly young, mostly Hispanic members of a historically marginalized and still-vulnerable group. I wonder how many cumulative years of potential life were lost that night. Fifty casualties with an average of fifty years left on the clock — you do the math.

The selective tolerance of today’s progressives. They welcome a diverse, multi-hued rainbow of humanity into their communal embrace. But let’s face it: they embrace some representatives of humanity more than others. Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, atheists, Muslims, Democrats, LGBT people, feminists, and progressive white men who wear sandals all get a resounding YES. Texans, fundamentalist Christians, rednecks, working-class white ethnics, Republicans and Dead White European Males — not so much.

The progressives’ soft spot for Islam is a baffling one, at least to a slightly dense moderate like me. Here’s a religion/legal system/ideology that, when obeyed to the letter, stands firmly against nearly everything traditional liberals hold sacred: women’s rights, gay rights, religious tolerance, wine, pacifism and personal freedom. (Talk about strange bedfellows.)

I suspect that the progressives who refuse to see the Orlando massacre as an Islamic terror incident — who defend Islam against the likes of Donald Trump and his minions — are operating on the “enemy of my enemy” principle. They haven’t exactly forged an alliance with Islam, but they face a common enemy: the angry white Christian xenophobes who, to them, represent the messy and primitive rear-guard of society. The progressives will tolerate patriarchy and intolerance as long as it has its origins in impoverished countries, preferably those inhabited by non-Europeans. As violent and barbaric as the radical Islamists can be, the Crusaders were even worse — right?

We have to bear in mind, too, that today’s progressives aren’t necessarily liberal. Notice their current penchant for inhibiting free speech, censoring satirical treatment of sacred cows, prosecuting microaggressions against the accepted order. They seem to like rules and unanimity, and they tend to consort only with fellow believers. Maybe (is it possible?) they have more in common with Islamists than we would like to believe.

But enough about politics. In the end, the Orlando massacre has yielded a devastating human toll. Not only for the fifty souls who perished in a bloody and terrifying rampage, or the wounded victims who will carry their scars for life, or their grieving families. Once again, the entire nation has been shocked by the increasingly common spectacle of mass murder in a public place. You’d think we’d have numbed ourselves to the atrocities by now, but if we’re still human, we should never learn to accept them as the “new normal.”

That the shooter was an emotionally unstable, homophobic Muslim equipped with semi-automatic weapons is relevant to our story. But it’s not the whole story. The larger issue is how to restore some semblance of brotherhood to our brilliant but bumbling species.

We can enact legislation to curb gun violence. It won’t eliminate the problem, but it’s a start. We can search for ways to undermine the factionalism and fanaticism so prevalent in so much of the world — including our own country. (That’s what The New Moderate is for, although I can’t brag about the extent of our influence.) We can try to build bridges. But these are only vague notions. I really have no solutions, and it’s plain to see that we need solutions to keep the world’s premium breed of primate from self-destructing.

For me, one ray of hope comes from the transformation of the late Muhammad Ali. As an angry young champ, he bought the black separatist rhetoric and anti-white venom of the radical Nation of Islam. He even repudiated his friend Malcom X for leaving the fold. Then, somehow, he found enlightenment. He parted company with the Nation of Islam and eventually aligned himself with the more tolerant and philosophical Sufi sect of Islam. He became a citizen of the world and a force for unity.

The extremists among us could do worse than to follow his example.

 

Rick Bayan is founder-editor of The New Moderate.


photo credit: Vigil for Orlando via photopin (license)

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  • Very well written, thought-provoking post.

    Why do LGBT people need their own month, or even their own “community”?

    Now, let’s see. We have

    Diversity Month
    Deaf History Month
    Older Americans Month
    Autism Awareness Month
    African American History Month
    National Native American Heritage Month,
    National Women’s History Month
    Italian Heritage Month
    German American Heritage Month
    Polish American Heritage Month
    Irish American History Month
    Jewish American Heritage Month
    Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month
    Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
    National Hispanic Heritage Month
    National Disability Employment Awareness Month
    National American Indian/Alaska Native Heritage Month
    Cesar Chavez Celebration Week
    Emancipation Day
    World AIDS Day
    Women’s Equality Day
    Disability Independence Day
    International Women’s Day.
    International Human Rights Day
    National Indigenous People’s Day,
    Native American Citizenship Day
    International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

    And, yes, we have an LGBT History Month/Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month

    • SteveK

      I agree with your point completely Dorian BUT you left out part of the Reagan Legacy (and one of my personal favorites)… National Ice Cream Month!

      But I’m sure that that was just an oversight. 🙂

      • Brownies girl

        I am personally working on getting a day designated as “International Lutefisk Day”. I have three folks on board, as of today. If us latter-day Swedish-American-Canucks have to suffer, so should the rest of the world. Because it’s only fair!

  • Bob Munck

    Here’s a religion/legal system/ideology that, when obeyed to the letter, stands firmly against nearly everything traditional liberals hold sacred

    Islam or Christianity? Or both?

    I haven’t seen any statistics or studies, but it seems to me that the beliefs of the fundamentalist, extremist branches of both religions are almost identical. That also seems to be true of their numbers. That is, the ratio of the number of fundamentalist Muslims to the total number of Muslims is about the same as fundamentalist Christians to total Christians (1:100? 1:1000?).

    Another parallelism: the center of Islam is the mid-east; the center of Christianity is the mid-west.

    • I assume that’s why we don’t call members of the IRA ‘christian’ or ‘Catholic’ terrorists.

      As to liberals supporting Islam- I see it as support for freedom of religion. A founding principle of liberalism and our country. I’m not sure why that is so difficult to understand. I have protested our embrace of Saidi Arabia because of how they choose to interpret Islamic text, and believe that their sect is largely responsible for the extremism we see. Yet, I don’t see many Republicans supporting sanctions against the Saudis. Why is that? Oh, ya, oil/ money. As the author goes on to acknowledge, there are moderate sects of Islam. Thwre are professional Islamic women, some couples actually live together before marriage (much like many of our modern Christians), and eat pork or have beer on occasion, and their religious identity is largely cultural/ social rather than based on ideology (just like most Catholics I know). Lumping these in with the terrorists, just serves to radicalize and isolate more people.

      As to Gay pride, why some choose to be bothered by a group wanting to highlight its achievements in a society where they are still marginalized, is baffling to me. Just like the angst over black history month. When achievements of that group have been ignored by the white male dominated society historically, it is helpful to members of an outside group to have role models and past achievements to look upon. It harms no one. Another thing threat people get bothered by that I can’t comprehend. It’s not like all gay people get their own paid federal holiday or something.

      As to the whole transgender bathroom thing. It’s a created issue, in my opinion, on both sides. The only time it’s a real issue is for someone transitioning in high school- which is actually a pretty rare occurrence. Otherwise, we women have stalls and don’t see each other’s genitals. Females to males transitioning won’t be using the urinal, so no worries there. Necer have understood this one, and if it’s a concern at school, let the rare transitioning teen use the teachers bathroom.

      As to gun control, I don’t see any reason for semi autos in society and I honestly believe that all the arguments over ‘assault rifles’ are ridiculous. Statistically, the handgun is the biggest culprit in crime/ accidents/ deaths. At this point, if I were queen, I would just outlaw all magazines. You can keep what you have, but any import/ sale/ or manufacture would be outlawed. I’m kind of grumpy on this subject right now, since it seems any more moderate measures are untenable (lIke universal background checks) and the pro-gun people in my life have been driving me crazy with their ideas that they would somehow be a sharp shooter in a dark and crowded night club.

      As to tolerance of rednecks or whatever, this is one of those oddities of logic put across by the right that I find strange. what does that mean? Is there some progressive movement to ‘build a wall’ around Kansas or Idaho that I haven’t heard of? I don’t have to agree with you to be tolerant, which seems to be the actual argument. That disagreement is somehow ‘intolerance’. It’s a false argument. As to students suppressing free speech, their students. Personally, I just wouldn’t attend or would protest outside if I disagreed with a speaker, but I don’t think any of us is shocked that many young people believe in how right they are- at least not any of us who have raised teenagers. I also think Authoritarianism occurs on both the right and the left- along with that goes the seeking of a savior. A mythical being who can fix everything. (The daily show did a great sketch about how Obama was not a ‘magic negro’). I think our system is geared that way and that that is something we need to confront through education on self governance. To have a government by and for the people requires that the people be engaged more often than every 4 years, yet culturally this is discouraged. ‘Don’t discuss politics or religion’. If we abdicate our own responsibility, than we give more power to those in charge and look to them to ‘fix’ everything. This is a recipe for a demagogue (like Trump) to step in, or a saviour (like Bernie or Obama). False idolatry inevitably leads to disappointment (see North Korea or Justin Bieber), but seems to permeate our society.
      Eh- end of rant.

  • Brownies girl

    Rick Bayan writes in his article: “Why do LGBT people need their own month, or even their own “community”? (We’re all Americans, aren’t we?)”

    Well, no, Mr Bayan — every LGBT person *isn’t* American. You’re probably American — that shows in your comment. Your world seems to stop at *your* territorial borders it seems. Never mind – It’s a characteristic attitude I’ve come to realize a lot of Americans have. Relatives of mine included.

    LGBT folks live in every country in the world. They live here, in my country – Canada – just for one. I wish there’d been a Gay Pride Month when my brother was alive. It’d have given him some hope, some idea that he wasn’t alone, living as a straight guy in a very straight “christian” town, growing up in the 50’s, 60’s and early 70’s. He’d have loved the support, knowing others like him feared as he did, that anybody would ever find out. But he never got the support. My heart aches to think what he went through.

    Being gay, back then in those years, was tough as hell. HIding, listening to ‘faggot’ jokes from others he went to school with, pretending to laugh and enjoy the joke, never saying a word, never ever being able to present himself to the world, the kind, good, honest professional psychiatric nurse that he was, always keeping that big *something* hidden. He never got to celebrate the whole person he was, to be open and true to what this major part of his life was. Aside from me, there was no one he could turn to, to know complete acceptance and unconditional love. He never trusted his brothers, (my brothers), they were the ones who’d abused him as a 7 year old.

    He got to go to ONE Gay Pride Parade here in this city — and he loved it. I was so happy for him and went with him — it opened his life for him for a couple of years, but it was a tough go for him. He was fragile – and afraid — all his life.

    I lost him through a tragic accident – hit by a train while under the influence of drugs to help ease his pain of early years. He’ll be gone 9 years this July 26 — I miss him and think of him everyday. I wish there’d have been a Gay Pride Day (month) for all those ‘under the cover’ gay folks decades ago. It might have saved my little brother’s life, and saved me almost a decade of heartbreak, losing my little brother who I raised – and loved and hugged and spent wonderful and years with. He wasn’t Americian either — he was Canadian.

    So, until you’ve walked in someone else’s shoes, Mr Bayan — don’t ask stupid questions. Please.

    • Thank you so much, BG.

      That’s what I call LGBT support — and tribute to hose 49 innocent souls lost — without ifs and or buts about it.

    • I have been reading your comments over and over again, BG, sometimes made difficult because of teary eyes.

      I feel so sad for you, in part because of just common empathy, in part because I — as the father of a gay young man — identify with you so much.

      You see, our son was an adolescent during the same years your brother grew up, and although he had the love and support of his parents, I can not even begin to imagine the pain and anguish he must have gone through.

      Today, thank God, because of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month and other advances in tolerance and justice we have made, life is finally better to him

      Thanks again, B.G,

      • KP

        DdW, wisdom and compassion. Much appreciated.

      • Brownies girl

        No — thank *YOU*, Dorian — we have lots in common and am so glad you wrote what you did. My brother, his name was Bill, taught me so much about strength and determination, regardless of what he had to face way back then. I was totally awed by what he accomplished in his life here, short as it was.

        I’m so happy for you and your son — what a grand father you must be — he is so lucky to have you and your wife with him and I’m happy as hell that his life is finally getting better. Please pass my good wishes to him – give him a hug for me, please.

        For a few hours after I posted what I did, I felt I’d perhaps taken one step too far over the line … I don’t talk too much to folks about Bill, instead he just lives in my heart — I felt perhaps I shouldn’t have spoken up as I did, in a public forum. But then I thought – good Christ – why not! Mr Bayan’s piece is good, but it was his (what seemed to me) indifference and “so what” attitude that hit me. Perhaps I shouldn’t have spoken up so hard, and if I hang around here longer, maybe I’ll learn to just keep my mouth shut and not be so personal in my ‘revealings’. But Bill and I, my sibling, my beloved brother, we traveled (metaphorically anyway) the same roads together, we actually *really* traveled together to Europe in 1991 for 3 weeks. Berne to visit relatives and days later down to Firenze, arriving around 3 pm, and after checking into our pensione, sitting at an outdoor sunshine-filled patio, me sloshing back glasses of white vermouth with ice cubes and strips of lemon peel as scores of mo-peds roared by, Bill sipping on Italian red as the sun set lighting the city to a golden hue — planning on when we’d go see “the David” statue. It was just grand and we were close as the blooming peonies in my back yard. I will never forget it. Ever. Losing a sibling is like losing the paths you traveled together — no further input from the other side. That’s what hurts the most. No one to remember those special days and years with.

        Forgive me for going on …. bless all those beautiful young gay people who lost their lives in Orlando — I know if Bill had been in Orlando, he’d have been among them, he loved to dance and feel comfortable around those who were like him. Just like all the families who lost loved ones down there, who will never ever forget them — neither will I ever forget my little brother. Summer time is the worst time of all, at least for me, it’s when the memories come back full force. but we will all survive and live on, stronger. And eventually feel blessed for the good times – short as they were – that we had together.

        Blessings to you Dorian for your kind words — Bayan’s piece just scratched open a scab is all — but it’s healing – days will always get better. My faith is strong. Be well – say hello to your son — tell him someone up here’s rooting for him and will keep him in her prayers. BG

        • Once again, thank you for sharing such touching memories with us, B.G.

          And, NO, you haven’t “taken one step too far over the line…”

          NOR do you need to be forgiven “for going on” — I look forward to more such insights and perhaps, one day, your memoirs.

          Most of all thank you for your good thoughts about and nice wishes for my son.

          As it turns out, we’ll be visiting him in a couple of weeks and I will personally pass them on to him.

          God Bless.

    • The Ohioan

      Thank you BG. You have had such an interesting life and are able to share some of it with us in such a humane fashion. It is a great gift and I hope you pursue doing more of it in your retirement. Thanks, again.

      • Brownies girl

        Thanks TO – I’ll be 72 on Father’s Day — and am chuffed as hell you think I’ve lived an interesting life! I didn’t think so till recently, but so many folks have asked me to write my memoirs — so am gonna try and do it. Am working on it now. It’s hard – being honest and true to yourself. It’s kind of like peeling skin. Painful, but somehow uplifting. Hard to describe exactly. Will let you know if it ever gets published. All best to you and thanks for your kind words. You and your posts – they mean a lot to me.
        Truly! BG

        • The Ohioan

          That’s wonderful news. I think what we enjoy is the way you put yourself out there fearlessly, and yet with a modesty that’s quite endearing. And yes, you have had a lot of experiences that most people have not had, so go for it and let us know if it ever gets finished.

          No doubt, if we only knew, a lot of our tmv’ers have had lives more interesting than one would think. 🙂

    • So sorry for your loss BG.
      In the same vein, I’d like to remind the author of what AIDS did to this community. And it was this community. Until it branched out into the ‘straight’ world, it was ignored and the victims vilified.
      I really can’t imagine losing my brother… Love to you.

      • Brownies girl

        Thanks Lorie — all losses, over the years, lose the sharp pain originally felt, and gradually move into a dull ache, sometimes there, sometimes completely absent, except when folks like the author of this piece, ask thoughtless questions. Then, all those harsh feelings come alive again. I hope you never have to lose a sibling too soon. Especially one who is the closest to you, incredibly loved and adored. I’ve heard it said that sometimes, when folks lose a limb, they often still feel pain in the limb that’s gone. Don’t know if that’s true or not, but have a strong feeling that it IS true. Because that’s what losing a sibling too soon feels like. Love to you too! Thanks so much for what you wrote. BG

  • dduck

    Good article Rick. Thanks for the reasonable thoughts, most of which I agree with.
    But no article, no matter how sincere, on either side, will generate some controversy.

    • dduck

      “will not”

  • KP

    Well done, Rick. A fine essay.

    When deep sea fishing and the tuna are boiling you may catch one with an unabated hook; so eager are they.

    No, not Nemo or Dory; rather the self declared Tolerant.

  • A well-laid out article with some nuance that I would like to address.

    “It had nothing to do with Islam,”
    I don’t think anyone is saying that this had absolutely nothing to do with Islam. The question is, is the problem Islam or religion in general? The hatred of homosexuality seems to run throughout many faiths. Christians in particular are very well known for hating gay people. We have all read the sign “God hates f**s”. In my teenage years I worked with a Mormon that enjoyed gay bashing on the weekend. What do Hindus do to gays?

    “Radical Islamic terrorism.”
    I wonder why the word radical needs to be there. Is there a “non-radical” Islamic terrorism? You would think that “terrorism” would cover it. ISIS is Islamic terrorism. I don’t have a problem with the phrase Islamic terrorism as long as we can also call things “Christian terrorism” or how about “religion-based terrorism”? Islam is not particularly worse than Christianity. Islam just happens to be a number of decades, some people a century, behind in their humanity.

    “The LGBT movement”
    “this moderate has to wonder if the LGBT movement has gone too public, too in-your-face”
    Wow… just wow. Unreal. I am sure there were also people upset in the South when all of those newly freed slaves were just walking around as if they didn’t have a master.
    “I know women are now allowed to vote, but do they have to stand in line during peak voting time? I am just not used to seeing women vote and I think they need to be more considerate of my bigotry!”
    I could keep going but it would just turn into a rant.

    “The selective tolerance of today’s progressives”
    There is that for sure…and the shaming that goes on trying to force people into an over PC world that can be just as twisted as the far right. That being said… we should never be tolerant of intolerance. The exception being your 90 year old grandfather whose opinion you will NEVER change. You will just end up ruining Thanksgiving, so you let his comments slide.

    It may end up that this guy was a massively repressed and mentally unstable homosexual that did not know how to live in a religious society and family that hates homosexuals (His father supports the Taliban). Easy access to weapons of mass murder allowed him to kill 49 innocent people and injure around 50. How a known terror threat is allowed to walk into a gunstore and buy a semiautomatic machine gun is completely foreign to me. As I have written more than once….

    The government is constantly violating my constitutional right to privacy in the name of protecting the country. The government lets known terror threats buy machine guns because it is their constitutional right. It does not make any sense. How can anyone support the Patriot Act and also believe that Americans should be able to buy a machine gun? It makes no sense.

  • I had a feeling my comments about the LGBT movement might come across as insensitive, and for that I apologize. I’m really not an insensitive guy. Of course I’m aware that gays and other sexual nonconformists endured terrible discrimination and ostracism in the past, that many of them considered suicide (or went through with it) and that the AIDS epidemic ravaged their numbers. It had to be hell, and I sympathize not only with the victims but — as revealed by some of your comments — their families as well.

    If I came across as a curmudgeon, it’s due to the recent (and highly politicized) advancement of an aggressive pro-LGBT agenda. (I know… even that phrase sounds insensitive.) When we start talking about forcing clergy to conduct gay weddings, or boycotting bakers who’d rather not create gay wedding cakes, or making accusations of bigotry if we don’t think biological males should be parading their man-parts in women’s locker rooms, I’d have to say we all need to step back a little and take a deep breath. As I said in my column, we can legislate measures that secure equality, but we can’t legislate attitudes that have been brewing for decades or (in the case of the Abrahamic religions) millennia.

    I suspected that the recent aggressiveness of the LGBT rights movement might have triggered the rage of an unbalanced American Muslim of uncertain sexual orientation, and that’s why I mentioned it in my column.

    Do LGBT people have a right to be out and proud? Yes, I’m all for that. Nobody should have to live in the shadows. Do they need their own month and pride parades? Ehh… I suppose all groups emerging from long-standing oppression deserve to celebrate themselves, but lately I’ve developed a grudge against identity politics in general. I think it’s such a divisive, Balkanizing influence at a time when we need to be cultivating unity as Americans (and yes, as Canadians, too). Ideally, we should be able to tolerate and embrace differences without establishing self-interested “communities” to accentuate those differences and create more divisions.

    • I think you get identity politics when identity is used against people- as in the right to marry. In your response, it comes across as though their ‘used to be’ discrimination against people for sexual orientation, but that it’s in the long ago past- which simply isn’t true.

    • Brownies girl

      Mr Bayan – first off, thanks for taking the time to pop in here with your response – am making a big (and perhaps false) assumption in thinking it was perhaps directed to me. Whether or not, it’s much appreciated. Am gonna try and make this short, but probably won’t be able to — so please be patient. I tend to write as thoughts pass through my head, and then leave it at that.

      You write: “I’m really not an insensitive guy.” Hmpff. I’m halfway willing to believe that. Mostly I just think your original piece was not well thought out and somewhat self-serving. IMO only. (And I also am a professional writer, half-as*ed retired.) There are others here, (folks I greatly respect), who think it was just swell. They and I will have to agree to disagree.

      You write: “I’m aware that gays and *other sexual nonconformists* endured terrible discrimination and ostracism in the past…” Emphasis mine. Gays are NOT sexual nonconformists. Please try and understand that Mr. Bayan. Many gays try desperately to conform to the ‘straight’ world — and most fail – because they’re BORN gay. I had 6 brothers – 5 now. All younger than me, all straight, (me included) except for Bill, the one I continue to miss with all my heart. He wasn’t a sexual non-comformist — he was gay, raised like all of us were, in the same family. He tried desperately to conform to the *straight* world. But he just couldn’t – he was just wired differently, is all. Born that way.

      You also write: “…we can legislate measures that secure equality, but we can’t legislate attitudes that have been brewing for decades or …millennia.” No, you can’t legislate attitudes, but holy cow, you’re a writer (you have a blog, I checked you out) — you could at least, with a minimum of insight, or god knows, experience with gays — talk about it and spread the truth. If you thought about it, with your heart, I mean.

      You write: “If I came across as a curmudgeon, it’s due to the recent (and highly politicized) advancement of an aggressive pro-LGBT agenda. (I know… even that phrase sounds insensitive.)”

      Yeah, you bet it does. Excuse me if I ask, WTF is the gay “agenda” anyway? Aside from acceptance, equal rights to marriage and access to jobs and common respect? Where it is written what this “agenda” is? I would like to know, because you write about it like it’s a real concrete thing. I’ve never seen it — show it to me please.

      You write: “When we start talking about forcing clergy to conduct gay weddings” …

      Please cite for me an instance where a clergy person was **FORCED** to conduct a gay wedding. And bear in mind, I am a practicing low-Anglican (low Episcopalian in your country) — and I follow the news. No clergy-person in my country has EVER been *forced* to conduct a gay wedding. Where has it happened in the US. Cite please.

      You write: “or boycotting bakers who’d rather not create gay wedding cakes” — good lord, America is noted for it’s capitalism — if a baker doesn’t want to bake a gay wedding cake, charge them double for doing it or send them to someone else who’ll do it. Boycotting is freedom of expression. Stop whinging!

      You write: “…or making accusations of bigotry if we don’t think biological males should be parading their man-parts in women’s locker rooms, I’d have to say we all need to step back a little and take a deep breath.”

      Good Christ on a crutch! — are you serious?! Has this EVER happened? If so, tell me about it, post a cite. My first vision of an adult male’s erect appendage was back when I was 6 years old, and it was a crazy neighbour guy who stepped out of a bush as I was walking home with a school friend. “Look here little girlies” he said, “look what I got for you!” We yelled at him to put that ugly thing back in his pants and ran off laughing. We told the story over supper that night — my mom said “Wally always does that, just never mind, he’s crazy” — so we forgot it. Every damn thing involving male penises in a young girl’s life isn’t life threatening you know. You, Mr Bayan, make more of it than is merited. Where the heck are the parents to give guidance here?

      You write: “Do LGBT people have a right to be out and proud? Yes, I’m all for that. Nobody should have to live in the shadows.”

      You’re all for that, are you? Thank the lord for small mercies. You’ve never had to ‘live in the shadows’ tho, so am not sure if you’re totally aware of what that phrase means, the horror and fear that someone has to go through when THEY have to do it. This comment of yours sounds like a slough-off to me.

      Finally, you write: “I suppose all groups emerging from long-standing oppression deserve to celebrate themselves, but lately I’ve developed a grudge against identity politics in general. I think it’s such a divisive, Balkanizing influence at a time when we need to be cultivating unity as Americans (and yes, as Canadians, too).”

      OK, this comment burns my butt. You “suppose” groups emerging from long-standing oppression deserve the right to celebrate themselves. I’m glad you *suppose* that. I have a female friend who’s husband battered and abused her, physically and mentally for 10 years before she finally left and took the two kids with her. She went on to study law and became (still is) one of the best family law lawyers in this city. She celebrates her success, as do we, her friends who supported her, both financially and emotionally on her trip to sanity and freedom. Thing is, her husband wants her back now, says what you said — says she’s being divisive and fails to realize that they can be a couple again and he’ll be good with the kids and to her too — unity is what he’s looking for. I say BS.

      I can tell you dozens of stories of women who’ve been mentally abused; gays who’ve been mentally abused all their lives; black people who’ve been abused and denied education and jobs they were qualified for till they fought like hell to get them — and now you want them to forget all that and just “embrace the differences” and forget all that’s been, in the past, so you can conveniently have peace and never think of the past abuses laid down on all of them. It doesn’t work that way, Mr. Bayan.

      You write: “Ideally, we should be able to tolerate and embrace differences without establishing self-interested “communities” to accentuate those differences and create more divisions.”

      Yeah, **ideally** …. you’re willing to *ideally* do it now — now that “self- interested” gays and battered women and blacks are fighting for their rights and slowly getting them. They’re celebrating their successes and now you’re worried about the divisions because now it seems their in your face with it all. Where were you when the divisions were causing real harm, pain and torture for all those folks, divisions and pain they suffered for scores of decades. You only want it *ideally* because *now*, it’s affecting YOU.

      Give your head a shake, Mr Bayan — actions in the past have results today. Now you want to “embrace differences” – through convenience it seem to me …. where were you back then, when it would’ve counted?

      Again, thanks for your response. It pretty much showed me where you stand. All best to you…..

      BG

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