Another week, another mass shooting at a school here, in what so many claim is the greatest country on Earth. Spoiler alert: When your national gun obsession results in children being gunned down in school on a regular basis, you’re not the greatest country on Earth.
One of the kids murdered in Santa Fe, Texas in May was an exchange student from Pakistan. She was to return home this month. I can’t help but wonder how many American parents would refuse to send their kids on an exchange to Pakistan. “Look what happened to that Malala,” they’d say. “It’s too dangerous.”
Sure, you could argue that Malala Yousafzai was assassinated by the Taliban, and that is totally different from what’s happening with gun violence in America.
Is it, though? How is the gun lobby (and the predominantly straight, white males who perpetuate gun violence) not a terrorist threat in the U.S.? And in this current political climate that gives racists, misogynists, homophobes, and gun fetishists the green light to operate with impunity, the threat of violence has only intensified.
Right now #IfIDieInASchoolShooting is trending on Twitter. Go read what young people are saying. It’s astonishing that our kids are literally begging lawmakers for their lives. In America. In 2018.
I’m beyond tired of the excuses.
“It’s not the guns, it’s not the guns, it’s not the guns,” we hear ad nauseam. We have more guns than we have people in the U.S. It’s definitely the guns.
“But what about mental illness? Surely mental illness is the reason why these insane people go on shooting sprees. We need to talk about mental illness, not guns,” they argue.
But the vast majority of people with mental illness never hurt anybody because they aren’t violent. And if they are prone to violence, people with mental illness are far more likely to hurt themselves than another person.
I’d also like to point out what utter bullshit it is to pretend to care about mental illness while trying to shred the Affordable Care Act, which is the only thing enabling many Americans who need mental-health service to access them. Or to decline to adequately staff agencies that are supposed to help children and families by connecting them with social workers and other professionals (who BTW are undercompensated, to boot).
And so I have no patience for so-called religious conservatives who are wringing their hands over proposed bans on “conversion” therapy for gays. If only they’d show the same concern for making dead kids undead as they do for making gay kids ungay. Yes, mental-health care is important. But conversion therapy is mental abuse, not care.
It’s astounding to me that people like Matt Barber, founder of conservative “news” site BarbWire.com, call themselves Christians while preaching not only intolerance but hate. And then they turn around and claim that anyone who disagrees with them wants to ban Christianity.
During a recent conversation with evangelical activist (and former Congressman) Gordon James Klingenschmitt, Barber gave props to Luis Ruiz, a Pulse Nightclub shooting survivor who has declared himself ex-gay.
“I love this story,” said Barber, “because it’s a story of redemption and freedom from demonic oppression and persecution and a sin lifestyle that I believe frankly is spiritual in nature.”
Note that what Barber loves isn’t that Ruiz survived one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history. He loves that Ruiz fits his anti-gay narrative.
Klingenschmitt and Barber warned that if conversion therapy is banned, then Ruiz could be arrested for talking about his ex-gay experience. This is not true.
I don’t know Ruiz. I don’t really care how he identifies. I’m not the boss of him. But it’s pretty striking that folks like Barber look at the Pulse shooting and see the problem as the guy dancing with another guy, not the guy with a gun.