Over the past few days, the tragedy at Pulse in Orlando has proven repeatedly that a crisis will bring out the best in some people and the worst in others.
Within a day, so many potential donors lined up at a blood bank they had to be asked to return later, and deposits to a GoFundMe account exceeded all expectations. Articulate speeches, candlelight vigils and rainbow displays expressed emotional support. Those were among the best reactions.
One example of the worst was uploaded to YouTube. Pastor Roger Jimenez of Verity Baptist Church in Sacramento, CA, referred to Pulse club patrons as “pedophiles,” in a video which has since been deleted for violating YouTube’s policy against hate speech.
People — sincere and insincere — have plenty to say about everything that has happened in regard to the Pulse shooting. The interactions all sound familiar, too. When a supporter of gun control suggests gun laws must change, people with opposing views jump to their feet with accusations that a tragedy is being politicized.
This reminds me of at least a few Oscar presentations. When people agree with a political statement in an acceptance speech, they cheer the award winner. When they disagree, they emphasize that politics doesn’t belong in the ceremony.
One of this week’s saddest absurdities came from Pastor James D. Manning of Atlah World Missionary Church in New York City. Dr. Manning had previously endorsed fellow windbag Donald Trump for President, but this week he rescinded that endorsement. It appears he was offended by Trump’s inflammatory speech after the Pulse shooting. Dr. Manning wasn’t objecting to Trump’s circular Islamophobic crap, though. He took exception to The Donald’s opinion that LGBT club patrons and workers have a right to be safe.
Here’s my political statement, although it’s in the form of a Jeopardy response: Why are so many people in the U.S. in love with their guns? There are parents who brag that they teach their ten year-olds to “shoot first and ask questions later,” which raises concern over what happens if Daddy comes home from work at an odd time and little Billy acts on his training.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) doesn’t represent the interests of gun owners, although the organization is happy to collect gun owners’ membership dues. It’s mainly a lobbying group which represents an industry. The gun industry has to keep producing and selling firearms to stay profitable, and innocent people who are injured or killed are regarded by the industry as collateral damage. We’re reminded that people, not guns, are doing the killing. That’s supposed to justify a glut of weapons in civilians’ homes, including some that are designed for combat only.
If the man who committed mass murder at Pulse hadn’t had access to an assault rifle, he still could have killed people. He might not have been able to kill forty-nine people, though. It’s awful to have to reason that way. We can debate all of the possible methods he could have used, when the bottom line is he shouldn’t have been running loose in the first place. None of those people should have died.
Candidates for public office (including incumbents) need donations to make their campaigns effective. Many accept campaign contributions from banks and large corporations, and quite a few are cozy with the NRA. They make impassioned speeches at the lectern about how their corporate-supported legislation will serve the public interest. They’re sell-outs, but with very few exceptions that’s how they must pay the overhead of keeping their jobs. Even a sudden attack of wisdom on the part of constituents won’t clean up politics.
Even with all of the out-of-control situations, we’d still have a better world if more adults knew how to behave as adults. That’s a given. I admit I giggled today when I noticed some juvenile online mischief, though. Someone had hacked the Google listing for Verity Baptist Church, and changed the classification to “Cemetery.” It was corrected later. In order to cope, sometimes we have to take a deep breath and say, “I’m behaving like a jerk because it makes me feel better.”