What the hell is going on in Orlando, Florida? Yesterday, I woke up and put on the radio to learn that a young singer from New Jersey was gunned down by a crazed individual, probably an obsessive stalker, while interacting with her fans. This morning, I woke up to the news that fifty people were killed and over fifty critically wounded in a mass shooting in an Orlando nightclub that catered to the LGBTQ community. Two killings, one the worst mass-shooting in United States history, on back to back days? What the hell is going on in Orlando? Listening to the coverage of the Pulse nightclub shooting, the reporter noted that this was the fourth mass shooting in Orlando this year, the fifteenth in Florida, and the one hundred and thirty-third in the United States.
I wasn't familiar with Christina Grimmie's life or career, she was a finalist on a show I didn't watch, and she sang a genre of music I don't particularly care for. Looking her up on the internet, though, she came across as an unpretentious, caring individual, the sort of woman who would happily, gratefully meet with her fans and show them her appreciation... the sort of woman who would trust the public to be as good-hearted as she was. One particular image, a picture of her with the caption Never Stop Smiling, was particularly saddening- she really came across as a bright speck in this vast uncaring universe, and now she's gone, killed at the age of 22. I can't even imagine how her brother, who was able to subdue the killer, but unable to save his sister, feels. It's heartbreaking.
Then we have the murder of fifty innocent people at the Pulse nightclub, fifty people who went out for a night of revelry and ended up massacred by an unhinged ISIS-wannabe with a history of domestic violence who was enraged by the sight of two men kissing. In the coverage of the massacre, one patron of the Pulse nightclub was a "safe space", the sort of place where he felt he could be himself. From safe space to killing zone in a matter of seconds... descriptions of the massacre indicate that the entire bloody fray occurred in the brief duration of a single song.
The real horror of the Pulse shooting is that the shooter, who had a couple of run-ins with the FBI and a history of domestic violence, was able to purchase firearms. The fact that he worked as a security screener at a courthouse only adds to the horror of it all.
Luckily, I had to go to work this afternoon, so I haven't been following a lot of the coverage of the massacre, though Roy dove into the cesspool to see what right-wingers, conflicted by their hatred of LGBTQ people and their pleasure that the murderer was a Muslim, were saying. Meanwhile, the Texas Lieutenant Governor blamed the victims, and Tucker Carson blamed President Obama. Rick Scott refused to acknowledge that the LGBTQ community was the target of the massacre and Paul Ryan pushed his unconvincing false pieties. President Obama made a speech denouncing the attacks that had a bit of an 'oh fuck, again?' quality about it. Pope Francis and CAIR executive director Nihad Awad also denounced the attacks...
Meanwhile, amid the denunciation, and expressions of blame, nothing will get done about gun violence in the United States. This horrific weekend of violence, the assassination of a young woman whose talent was matched by her kindliness and the massacre of innocent LGBTQ people out for a night of fun in a 'safe' space, perfectly illustrates the ubiquity of gun violence in the United States. Even while walking around on a beautiful late Spring evening, this specter was in the back of my head... simply put, Orlando has made me furious.