Recently one of most compassionate, loving people I have ever met started making posts to her social media that promoted violence, intolerance and hate speech… things I would never have associated with her. Between the bathrooms in Target, Harambe the gorilla and now the tragedy in Orlando there has been no shortage of opinions- but it is difficult when you realize how great a difference in belief that you have compared to the ones you love.
When I saw the words “all I need in my life is God and my .40 caliber” in a text message from my friend I almost died. It started on a thread about the tragedy in Orlando and ended via text. While we discussed the events of that night several people were more focused on their gun rights than the lives of the 49 people that died. Instead of seeing that more regulations and a high standard for gun control could have stopped this tragic event, they were worried that preventative action going forward would impede their progress to have a full unnecessary arsenal of military weapons. Those focused on themselves couldn’t grasp that a premeditated mass shooting has never been stopped by a gun toting civilian. They couldn’t understand that if proper regulations were in place this man never would have legally owned a gun. They couldn’t see that our world is so backwards that it takes more clearance to provide a child with a family through adoption than it does to obtain a gun and destroy an entire family unit. When I asked how my friend felt about the danger these lax laws put her in she said “all I need is God and my 40 caliber”… I didn’t even know how to respond to that.
This friend knows that I am part of the LGBTQ community. That each year I celebrate at Pittsburgh Pridefest. Despite all of this she could not seem to understand why I was taking the Orlando tragedy so personally. That was when another person chimed in that they wish the media would stop calling it a “gay club” because their sexual orientation “doesn’t matter”. I am sorry but that is just pure ignorance. The fact that it was an LGBTQ club is without a doubt relevant to the case. The fact that this person targeted the LGBTQ community makes this a hate crime, a terrorist attack- which will have a greater impact moving forward. This was not a random act of violence. It was not a mentally ill person who was off of their medication. It was a deliberate act preformed by a religious extremist and it needs to be portrayed for exactly what it is.
The final straw was when my friend piped up with gem:
“you know, i’m a conservative Christian and I think this is a perfect example of how much harder everyone is on Christians than they are on Muslims, I mean when someone shoots up a Planned Parenthood the world hates all Christians but this guy shoots up a club and everyone wants to make sure we know he doesn’t represent Islam”
Holy shit. Is that really what you got out of this? Despite all of the news reports, all of the articles and all of the discussion this was all that you came up with. First off, you are wrong. We are not harder on Christians than we are on Muslims. Perhaps it would appear that way because the Christian population is so much larger than the Muslim population, but I assure you all rational people are equally frustrated by hate crimes committed in the name of religion, regardless of the God. Yes, there were Muslims that were quick to say that this man does not represent their faith but that is to be expected as most people would not want to be associated with a terrorist. We went back and forth until she finally said I couldn’t understand what she was feeling because I don’t believe in God. To which I explained that god or no god I will never understand the ability to justify taking the life of someone based upon a difference of opinion. I need to believe that god or no god there are people out there who want to make a difference, want to promote tolerance, acceptance and respect. I need the government to do what is right in order to protect our country, to make amendments to outdated laws and to make regulations that fit with the growth of our society. I need to stand up beside like-minded citizens and demand to be heard until everyone realizes that just one more hate related death is unacceptable. Some people out there are like my friend, content with relying on God and gun to protect them, but I know that as a society we are capable of so much more and I will not sit and wait around for it to happen again. We cannot let the victims in Orlando, and all other hate crimes die in vain. It is imperative that we make a change.