If it’s never our fault, we can’t take responsibility for it. If we can’t take responsibility for it, we’ll always be its victim. —Richard Bach
The revolution may be televised, but the next mass shooting will likely be live streamed. Much has been made the past couple of days about the death of a Chicago man who was gunned down while he was live streaming on Facebook. Everyone rush to look. Last I checked, the captured video was still available on Slate.
Now, how did you react to that paragraph? Were you sad? Were you angry? Were you disgusted? Or did you dismiss the whole thing because it happened in Chicago, the murder capitol of the U.S.? Did you roll your eyes and make the assumption regarding the victim’s race? Did you make a moral judgement?
How you responded determines how much at fault you are for the very condition that allowed the event to take place. None of us are innocent. We are all part of this country together and it is what we do together, corporately, how we act, how we react, that determines whether we, as a society, are progressive or destructive and if we’re totally honest with ourselves for a moment, we’re being incredibly destructive.
When a shooting happens such as the one in Orlando a week ago, everyone is quick to point fingers. It was the shooter’s fault. It was the shooter’s parents’ fault. It was the shooter’s wife’s fault. It was the president’s fault. It was the fault of Congress. It was the NRA’s fault.
While I am not the least bit dismissive of the responsibility of the shooter and his family, after all, he made the decision to do what he did, no one else, I am not ignorant of the fact that we, you and I, helped shape the conditions that seeded the thought in his head, fostered the hatred that grew in his heart, and made sure his purchase of a semi-automatic assault rifle as the appropriate ammunition was as easy as possible. You and I did that. We aided a murderer.
Orlando is our fault.
We Are The Media
Why do we have so many mass murders in our country, far more than any other developed country in the Western world? The answer is that we make it a popular thing to do. While this is easy enough to blame on the media, the reality is that you and I are the media. More people get their news and opinions from social media than anywhere else, and it’s not traditional news sources they’re reading. Instead, we are more likely to read a story that a friend has shared. That makes you and I part of the media. We are participating in the dissemination of news.
So, every time we share a picture of the Orlando shooter and/or his family, you are telling the next mass shooter that this is an easy way to become famous.
Every time we mention the shooter’s name, you tell the next mass shooter that this is a good way to get people’s attention.
Every time we marginalize a person online because of their race, the tone of their skin, their heritage, their gender, their sexual preferences, their height, their weight, or their religion, you’re telling the next mass shooter that it’s okay to hate those people.
Every time we pass over a hateful comment without correcting the person, we might as well be placing a gun in the shooter’s hands because we’re telling them it is just fine with us if they spread their hate everywhere. If we ignore hateful words, we’ll ignore hateful bullets as well.
We Are The Government
All this bullshit about blaming the president or blaming Congress needs to stop. Not because they failed to pass any form of legislation that would make it more difficult for people to buy the weapons used in mass shootings, but because we are responsible for who is sitting in Congress and the White House. Remember when the Democrats filibustered the Senate for gun control legislation this week? While they were yammering on and on, 48 more people were shot! Here’s how that mapped out:
We have spent the past 12 years complaining about a do-nothing Congress. What an incredibly stupid thing for us to do. Why? Because the entire House of Representatives and a third of the Senate, enough to shift the balance of power, is up for re-election every two years. So, if Congress continues to not do anything about violence, if our elected officials from the White House on down continue to do nothing about gun control, if Congress continues to do nothing but stand there and waste tax payers’ dollars, IT’S OUR OWN FAULT! We had the opportunity to remove every damn one of those lazy jackasses from office more than once and we have failed to do so. Remember Mr. Lincoln’s line about this being a government for the people and BY THE PEOPLE? That puts the responsibility squarely on our own backs.
Congress has two years to act. If they don’t, it is our responsibility to remove them. Yet, when we keep voting for the same idiots because of a party affiliation or because of tradition, we are only making the problem worse. We are responsible for who sits in Congress and we are responsible for removing them when they sit there doing dumb shit rather than protecting our country.
We Can Fix This
We created this mess, this society that fosters mass shootings. We can clean it up. We have to clean it up. Change doesn’t come from a President. Change comes from people like you and me who start making a stand, who stop being quiet when someone says something stupid on social media (friend count be damned), who changes their own behavior to reflect their values rather than ignoring everything that passes by. There are some very specific steps we can take.
- Pay attention to incidents of hate and violence at an early age. The Orlando shooter’s classmates are talking about how violent he was while in school. The problem is not that the incidents went unnoticed, but rather that no one did anything to intervene and actually address the issues of anger. We cannot ignore the impact of negative social behavior at an early age.
- Shut down anyone who talks pro-terror and pro-hate online. We have previously been far too tolerant of hate speech online. We have always been of the opinion that everyone has a right to their own opinion. We’re too willing to agree to disagree. Yet, those negative statements are how Daesh recruits and inspires people to kill others. Shutting down those hateful comments and statements may well help reduce the amount of terroristic influence Daesh and other groups have.
- Vote. Not just at the federal level, but at the local and state levels as well. There is more hate being spewed by state legislatures than our federal government could ever conceive. Find those who are purveyors and creators of hate and remove every last one of the jackasses from office. This is an election year. There’s no reason to not make it an electoral blood bath.
- Don’t be quiet. I know a lot of people don’t like to get political in their speech and especially in what they say online. Being adamant about a political opinion can make some relationships awkward and difficult. Fuck awkward and difficult. Fuck friend and follower counts. Silence infers that you agree with the stupidity. Take on the bullshit that is the presumptive nominee for the Republican candidate for president. Speak up!
- Walk the talk. Check yourself. Not just online, but in life. Who are we marginalizing? Who are we demonizing unfairly? How are we treating the people who are around us every day? We have to improve. What we do, what we say, how we respond to every challenge we face makes a difference.
Call To Action
We created this monster. We are part of this society that fosters and breeds mass hatred that results in mass shootings. There is no one to blame but ourselves and we have to stand up and take responsibility for dismantling the monster we’ve created. We cannot be a people of peace if we tolerate and perpetuate hate through our action.
Right now, somewhere in the United States, someone is thinking about creating an event that would make Orlando look like a cake walk. If we, you and I, do nothing but blame the media and Congress and guns and the NRA, that person may well succeed. Stop blaming and take some responsibility.
Orlando was our own fault. Don’t let it happen again.