Sunday, June 12, 2016

Decision

A Sad Day

Yesterday, 6/11/2016, an armed man walked into a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, and killed 50 people and sent 53 to the hospital. That toll is likely to rise, as is often the case in shootings, bombings, and other acts of hatred and terrorism. I was finishing up my blog post on criminology myths and heading to bed when it came across my news feed.

Blame

Twitter has been very much alive with vocal requests for tighter gun control, for banning of assault-style rifles, and blaming bigotry and hatred for this terrible tragedy. America is grieving, once again, for the lives of people killed by gun violence. But this violence... these shootings... they are not the work of bigotry and hatred. They are not the result of homophobia. They are not the result of poor gun control, or the availability of assault rifles.

They are the result of choice.

Decisions And What Motivate Them Are Separate

The decision to walk into a nightclub with an assault rifle, and pull the trigger is a choice. The motivation behind that decision is separate and distinct from the decision that was made. The decision to walk into an elementary school and kill students and staff members in Sandy Hook was a choice. The motivation behind that decision was separate and distinct from that decision. The decision to pull a handgun on someone's colleagues in the military is a decision, and the mental health struggles that motivated that decision are separate. My decision to sexually abuse an 8-year-old boy was a choice. The motivation behind that choice is separate and distinct from the decisions I made.

I believe that distinction is important, so that the victims are treated with respect. It is insulting to them to insinuate that the decision to hurt others is the result of homophobia, of asperger's, of mental illness... or of an attraction to children. The decision is a decision, and that bears full responsibility. The motivation is worthy of being discussed in the context of prevention, but not in the context of the victims and how they were affected. 

America's Decision

America, once again, is at a crossroads, with these and with other tragedies. Thousands die every year from shootings and bombings that never cross our newspapers, news feeds, or timelines. Millions are raped, sexually abused, assaulted, or otherwise victimized by crimes. Many of these crimes remain unpunished, unnoticed, and ignored. I do not shy from the fact that I abused a child, because to do so would be a disservice to my victim, even if I write this under "TNF 13", and he will likely never see any of these posts. I refuse to minimize my own actions.

America rightfully wishes to bring perpetrators of such crimes to justice. Great, we think, when we hear that Adam Lanza, Omar Mateen, Osama Bin Laden, and others die in the attempt to bring them to justice. They deserve it, we say. Many would wish me dead for the decisions I made. Many wish pedophiles dead, simply because they have an attraction to children that most people cannot begin to comprehend. Many wish transgendered people would shut up about the bathroom business. Many of the same people who are now appalled at the violence in Florida against homosexuals were just weeks and months ago voicing their hatred of transgendered people and their allies. 

A Global Decision

Globally, we have decided that if we do not understand, and can justify hating someone for something, we will voice our opinions. We have free speech, after all, and we can say whatever we want. Globally, people have decided that pedophiles, people with an attraction to children, deserve death just as much as people who have actually sexually abused a child (and yes, there is a difference). Right now, pedophiles are one target of hatred, along with . Twenty years ago and less, it was people in the GLBT community. Sixty years ago and prior, it was black people. Today, it is muslims, pedophiles, sex offenders... 

When will it end? At what point can we, as a nation, as human beings, decide that our fellow human beings are deserving of the same respect we are, even if we cannot understand or empathize with where that human being has been or where they are going? You who condemn a shooter who kills gay men in a nightclub, would you also condemn a shooter who kills pedophiles in a pedophilia support meeting? You who rail against bigotry and hate against homosexuals, would you also condemn the hate that is directed at those who have done nothing but admit that they have a sexual attraction to children? A pedophile is not the same as a child molester. One is a choice, and the other is not. 

It is time to stop hating people for things they cannot choose, regardless of what that thing is. It is time to stop conflating the decisions people make to hurt others, with the potential motivations for those decisions. If we cannot stop that hate, if we cannot separate a motivation from a decision, then we are no better than the people we condemn for shooting people with assault rifles, or blowing up buildings with planes, or gassing people in death camps. 

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