Usually, I’m always at the ready with a response to political events, and I enjoy dissecting them and sharing my opinion on the blog (for better or for worse). It’s easy when you’re angry (and I’ve been pretty angry before), but the events of this week – the Orlando Nightclub shooting, and the murder of MP Jo Cox – left me unable to formulate an immediate response that could communicate how utterly, utterly sad I feel.
In many ways, the press reaction to these two cases is part of the problem, part of what makes things so upsetting. The journalist Owen Jones was told that he did not have “ownership” of a massacre in a gay club because it was an atrocity committed against “anyone who wanted to have fun.” I mean, sure, it was awful for everyone, but the shooter targeted the LGBT community, and the same day that it happened, Sky News journalists were complaining that this wasn’t something that was necessarily to do with the LGBT community because everyone was upset. Which is nonsense, because I’ve never met a single person who thought the holocaust was a good thing, nor have I ever met anyone who thought that this wasn’t a horror committed largely against the Jewish people (and, in fact, the LGBT community.)
That shooter was decried as an islamic extremist. It didn’t take long, though, for the Christian American far-right to begin applauding him for the killing on twitter.
Then, British MP Jo Cox was shot dead. The man who shot her shouted “Britain First”. This has largely been attributed to mental illness by British media outlets, though there are also some loud voices pointing out that this was an act of terrorism – a murder committed for political reasons.
All are awful, tragic losses.
In a way, I can see the attraction of turning to a diagnosis of mental ill-health. Do we want to live in a world where someone who is compos mentis could cold-bloodedly kill people for their sexuality or political beliefs? Insanity is more comfortable a diagnosis. They didn’t know what they were doing. I remember the Anders Brevik case. I couldn’t believe a person in full charge of their mind could cold-bloodedly gun down children running towards him for help. But I couldn’t have believed that someone would walk into a club, either, and gun people down for who they loved. Or that someone would cold-bloodedly kill an MP for voicing perfectly ordinary political beliefs.
I can’t make sense of the world this week. In the face of so much awful loss, all we can do is come together. Support LGBT friends and family. Understand that somewhere they thought of as safe – a gay club is in many ways a sanctuary in a world where casual homophobia is still on our streets – was the site of a slaughter. Understand that although our politics may differ, the vast, vast majority of us mourn as one with those who knew Jo Cox.
It’s been an awful, awful week.