Thoughts and…

more thoughts.  What? You didn’t really think I was going to say prayers, did you?  Pray if you must.  It can’t hurt but please don’t think it does any good, either.  What can regular people like us really do in times like these to help?  I suppose the first way is to give blood. Wherever you live, giving blood is literally giving life.  Maybe register as an organ donor?  These are real, tangible ways that we can help.

Now let’s get down to the nitty gritty. The intangible ways that we can help.  When tragedy strikes, we’re all filled with a wide range of emotions: grief, anger, fear, etc.  It’s so easy, in this social media age we live in, to let our hearts do the talking before we let our brains catch up.  I’ve certainly been guilty of it.  We should all work to find common ground.  We can’t agree on everything but surely, people of good conscience can agree on more than they disagree.  We rightly get angry with Congress for their lack of action and productivity  and their general failure to find common ground.  It starts with us.  We elect them, after all. Granted, gerrymandered districts do not help because we end up with politicians on the extremes.  Anyway…

Every time something like Orlando happens, most of us pick a side.  We pick one topic, point to it, and say this is the reason.  For me, it’s guns.  For others it’s religious extremism.  It goes on and on.  My point is that life is almost never black and white.  It’s mostly grey.  Or is it gray?  Why does that color get two spellings?

Do you want to make our country, our world, a slightly better place?  Of course you do.  So do I.  Let’s find a way to have a conversation about difficult topics in a reasonably calm, hopefully informed way.  One of my best friends and I did that last night on the Face. It’s not that hard to do.  It doesn’t mean you have to change your stances on everything but for fuck’s sake, maybe just have an open mind occasionally?  Let’s let our brains win out over our hearts.

So why did this happen?  Can we allow for the possibility that there are multiple factors in play?  Let’s go down the list of major factors.  If I leave some out, chime in with a comment.

  1. Extreme homophobia.  Let’s not dismiss the fact that this was a hate crime.  He almost certainly targeted this club on purpose.  The killer’s father said that his son was very disturbed by two guys kissing in public, in front of his family.  This is heartbreaking.  Like many of you, I have many openly gay friends and family members.  The thought that they have to live in fear simply for being who and what they were born as is beyond disturbing.  Here’s a thought too.  If you don’t want to see homosexual PDA, maybe get the heck out of South Florida?  Move somewhere less …colorful.
  2. Mental instability.  The killer’s ex-wife said that it was very clear to her, after living with him for only a couple months, that the guy was unhinged.  I believe she said he was bipolar(I was reminded that being bipolar, in and of itself, is no excuse or reason.  I should have been more clear.  If the killer was bipolar and unmedicated, it may have been a factor)  Whether or not that’s true, he was clearly unhinged.  She says that he physically abused her.  Assuming that’s true, I wonder if there’s a record of it?  Did she file a restraining order or just get the heck out?  I ask that because it leads to my next point.
  3. Guns.  We now know the killer beat his ex-wife.  We know that he was investigated by the FBI twice.  He was able to recently buy two guns which he used to murder fifty innocent people and injure another fifty-three.  That’s a bad look, any way you slice it, especially if there was a record of this spousal abuse.  Let’s also look at the AR-15, which has taken its place as the mass murderer’s gun of choice. Please read about this gun here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2016/06/13/the-history-of-the-ar-15-the-weapon-that-had-a-hand-in-americas-worst-mass-shooting/ and tell me, if you can, why we need this weapon to be available to the general public.  I have an open mind.  Sell me.  Read this too first, though.   http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/orlando-nightclub-massacre/ar-15-rifle-used-orlando-massacre-has-bloody-pedigree-n590581
  4. Radicalized religious nuts.  The killer called 911 and pledged his allegiance to the bad guys.  Was he one of them or just inspired, in his own crazed mind, by them?  It’s unclear right now.  How do we deal with ISIS?  Do we continue to do what we’re doing or change tactics?  I don’t know.  I’m no foreign policy expert(neither are you) but let’s have a discussion.  Should we send ground troops?  Risk their lives to try to stamp these scumbags out for good?  I don’t know.  Do we officially declare war on them, as my Facebook friend suggests?  I don’t know, maybe.  Or does that legitimize them in some way?  I don’t know.  How does one carry out a war against an organization that is not in just one country?  I don’t know.

My opinion is that these four main factors, and probably ten more that I haven’t written about, are at the root of why this happened.  Hoping to get some good, well thought out, comments.  I noticed that site traffic was unusually high yesterday, which means people are interested in reading what I have to say(thanks!).  I purposely waited until today to blog about it.  Best to get as many facts as possible before spouting off, right?  Let’s use our brains for reason.  Leave our hearts for music, like this song, which never fails to make me feel better.

 

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30 thoughts on “Thoughts and…

  1. Right-wing extremists are a bigger threat to America than Isis. And, by coincidence, that’s the title of this article:
    http://www.newsweek.com/2016/02/12/right-wing-extremists-militants-bigger-threat-america-isis-jihadists-422743.html

    Unfortunately, those glued to right-wing-nut-job television A) will ignore the article, B) won’t be able to read or comprehend the article, or C) will refuse to believe it’s true because Sean Hannity didn’t say it.

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  2. The line up of “are you kidding me” time line events of the wack job in the Orlando case is staggering. Guy losing his mind, beats his wife and reported, interviewed by FBI twice, has pistol permit for security guard job, has access to weapons and 0 waiting days to purchase. Sadly there are people who’s response would be “well yeah, so?”

    ISIS is tough. It’s as much of a concept as a physical entity, being pushed through the internet and clearly in some cases, within groups. Tough to work against that but what I don’t see enough of (and certainly I haven’t actively looked) is hardline public stance from the Muslim community. Maybe it’s there. I don’t know.

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  3. I completely agree that each of the 4 factors you have listed rightfully belong in the mix. Which of those factors likely serve as the umbrella under which the other factors reside? Another way to ask the question is to consider which of the factors speak to the motive of the terrorist? In my opinion it may be a tie between the following because I believe that each may well reside in the other: Radicalism (extremism) and Mental Instability. I believe it is psychologically plausible to be mentally unstable and thus susceptible to the influences of radicalism and I also believe that radicalism may become so ingrained in an individual’s psyche that they would be deemed mentally unstable. What I am sure of is that homophobia is one potential manifestation of intolerance and hate that resides under the umbrella of radicalism and/or mental instability. I am also equally as sure that guns can be a factor that resides under the umbrella of radicalism and mental instability. They are one choice among many that radicals or mentally unstable individuals may make when seeking the means by which to convert their hate to unspeakable, violent action. Logic such as this should help us to clearly identify the causative factors in the Orlando terrorist incident.

    I read the entire article referenced above in the first anonymous post. While all flavors of dangerous and abhorrent extremism exist in the US and in the world, the actions of the terrorist behind the Orlando carnage were likely fueled, at least in part, by the ideology of religious extremism. That type of extremism deserves our attention in regard to this most recent terrorist incident. In your blog entry you clearly stated that radicalized religious nuts were a factor. If the question was asked, “Which religion?”, there is a factual answer to that question, and its Radicalized Islam. I don’t think that any of us, including the President, should understate or completely ignore the culpability of this causative, motivating, umbrella factor by refusing to call it out, by name.

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      1. I read that article previously when first published and just did so again. A quote from the author: “We must resist benighted overgeneralization”. In my opinion the first step to solving a problem is to clearly define the problem- that requires as much specificity as our abilities allow. The author implores us to avoid using dimly lit generalizations, but then asserts that simply using the generic term “terrorists” somehow sheds more light on the details of the problem. What terrorists? Which terrorists? Where are these terrorists? There’s a big difference between a “juicy steak” and a “rancid steak”. I’d go at least three steps further to avoid overgeneralizing in regard to steaks to make sure that no juicy steak is inadvertently impuned. You’ll want to avoid that rancid steak on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator near the hummus. That rancid steak has been there for months and you will likely suffer great gastrointestinal maladies if you choose to consume it. I suggest you dispose of it immediately as rancid steaks are not good for your health. That word rancid is kind of an important qualifier. I just don’t think that any self-respecting juicy steak should be offended by clearly identifying the rancid steak to set it apart. Please remember that this steak analogy was not introduced by me, but the author of the article.

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      2. The better point to me is that using the term radical Islam is not going to fix the problem any quicker and in fact, may just add fuel to the fire. We all know that we’re talking about ISIS, in regards to this tragedy. I haven’t yet seen a good reason to use the term. This seems like a really small and mostly insignificant beef in relation to the overall problem.

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    1. Also, and I meant to put this in my blog post, the greater issue of religious terrorism is a huge topic and obviously, not easily fixed. Rather than try to hit a home run, we can hit singles and work to limit the damage in various ways, while also trying to figure out the big picture. So, maybe get rid of these types of weapons, maybe put someone like this guy on a temporary ban from buying guns, a two fbi investigation rule. These things can’t be that hard to do and just seem like common sense to so many of us.

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      1. Many singles drive in runs, and I want to win this game. I am open to limiting access to those who have demonstrated that they should not be entrusted with the right to own guns of any sort. I don’t have the answer as to what specific criteria will be acceptable to the majority of Americans as that is fraught with Constitutional implications. But considering the established background concern that warranted the FBI investigations this “citizen” should not have had such an easy time gaining legal access to weapons of any type.

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  4. You are right, it is a small beef amidst a much bigger problem. Identifying the breadth of the bigger problem is still important, though that alone may not be enough to solve the problem. The bigger problem is embodied by the threat of rancid t-bone [al-Qaeda] steaks, rancid porterhouse [al-Shabaab] steaks, rancid sirloin [Boko Haram] steaks, and rancid skirt [Hezbollah] steaks. I do mean this sincerely, it is a shame that the juicy steaks unfortunately have an unwanted and undeserved connection with all of those rancid steaks only by virtue of the fact that they are all indeed steaks. Defining and solving a problem requires specificity. Using the word terrorism alone is the equivalent of using the general term “meat” in our steak analogy. We have a problem with meat.

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    1. I’ve watched the video, and I have already said much about what I clearly see and exactly how I would define it. In your opinion, what should the viewer of this video be willing to admit is illustrated? Is is simply insanity or does it demand a more specific “admission of what it is across the board?”

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  5. In the first article .. to paraphrase.. the opinion is that “Christian extremism is more dangerous than Muslim extremism”… in the second article the opinion is that “Muslim extremism” is a term that is somehow dangerous to use because it unfairly paints a large group of people. There is an inherent lack of balance between those two articles. We absolutely have to call Muslim extremism what it is in my opinion. Specifically in *support* of the 100’s of millions of good Muslims in the world. The point of calling out the specific hateful sects is 100% correct as well… This is an ideology of hate that is defined by doctrine and has to be stamped out.

    I believe that the reason that some in our administration are slow to use that term is more an issue of pandering than political correctness. There is a lot of money changing hands and they don’t want to do anything that interrupts that flow of either money or influence. I don’t see this as any different than a politician pandering to the NRA personally.. both are abhorrent.

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    1. Have to agree with the pandering. Also, although i don’t think we need a prefix….and i don’t know enough about the Islamic faith to make any statement…is there a radical and violent version determined to rule the world? If yes, then it would be considered extremist in any fashion….and more importantly, should be stomped down first and foremost.
      The concept of trying to “rule the world” seems so “Austin Powers” in it’s mentality…

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  6. I don’t think there is a need to place a prefix on it. It’s the desire for power, control and wealth. Humans are not all that complicated. The story is the same over the last million years. Fortunately for the few, religion came about. Every form of religion was used to motivate people to do things over the history of man. Religion is what it is. Can be used for good or to motivate for bad. The Kings of Europe used Christianity and it’s offshoots. The Crusades used it. A “few” utilized it to motivate the “many”. Islam is the new gig and instead of sending a few hundred guys in robes and staffs to various parts of the world (although there are) they now have internet. There are people that have found a way to create chaos in which they can thrive. Look at Boko Haram. That’s a total ruse. Those are warlords that want power, wealth and control.
    At least in South and Central America the cartels have the decency not to blame the “infidel”. They just want P,W & C.

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  7. Wow, I asked for some reasoned, well thought out comments and here they are. Thank you. It’s interesting that we got off on this tangent. I still don’t see how what we call them will really have much effect on how we solve the problem, It still seems like a very small part of the overall topic. I definitely lean towards not using the word “radical” . I don’t recall that specific word being used to describe other religious crazies. Does anyone refer to Westboro Baptists as radical Christians? I don’t know. Maybe they do. Either way, it does not seem that important in relation to the overall problem. Has anyone been able to articulate how using the term “radical Islam” helps in a tangible way?

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  8. I think it took this tangent because of the 4 topics presented, one seems to be the “pusher” of the others.
    1.) Homophobia- this group is the scapegoat of this era.
    2). Mental Health- it’s always been around. Now they get to walk around.
    3). Guns- AR-15’s need to go away but that said, there would be another method…but I get your stance. If we
    4). Radical Religious nuts- these are the “pushers” utilizing modern technology to create the chaos of a 7th century version of a religion for their own benefit. They used #1 to incentivize #2 to utilize #3 to create chaos.

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  9. I guess if I had to “tone it down” I’d refer to Westboro as “radical Christians”. Normally I just refer to them as “f@cking assh@les” . Personally, I believe the side effect of this pandering is to create a culture of fear of being called a bigot, hater, or racist if you “see something and say something”. It’s a narrow ledge to walk between vigilance and bigotry true, but, you have to be aware that the “bad guys” have been taught to exploit that system.

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    1. Good points. It just seems like, since this is such a big talking point on the right, that there should be a better reason to do it. Calling it a different name is window dressing. It does not solve the problem. So the response, to me, is disproportionate to the possible benefit.

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  10. But.. the entire premise of my point is that it *isn’t* window dressing. It’s about setting a tone for your DHS, FBI, etc as well as the general public of a specific stance. It’s a stance that dictates priorities for security at a national level.

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    1. Gotcha. I disagree with you on the importance of it as I don’t see how it will make any difference. You may be right about the pandering and the money, I have no idea. I think it’s equally plausible that they don’t use the term because they don’t want to fan the flames and make things worse. Or maybe, both reasons are correct, who knows? If you could point to any credible explanation of how it would help, I’d love to read it. Either way, I stand by my statement that the argument on whether use the term is disproportionate to whatever benefit there may be.

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      1. The problem with proving any of this is that I’d have to be able to go back in time and manipulate inputs to test outcomes. It’s very difficult to have a conversation around that without it turning into a witch hunt. I’d rather have the conversation over a beer then in permanent electronic ink.

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      2. I wasn’t asking you to prove it, just maybe point to a well written article or opinion piece which spells out why it would make a difference. I hear they serve beer at SPAC…

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      3. And then there is this, straight from President Obama’s mouth:

        “‘There’s no magic to the phrase ‘radical Islam.’ It’s a political talking point, it’s not a strategy.’ The president said he would not use the wording because he was unwilling to give the Islamic State the victory of accepting their vision of themselves as leaders of a holy war between Islam and the West. ‘If we fall into the trap of painting all Muslims with a broad brush and imply that we are at war with an entire religion, then we are doing the terrorists’ work for them.'”

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  11. I completely understand what the president is saying. I just don’t believe him on why he is saying it. It’s not his job to convince me certainly.. and he’s certainly done that job well. FWIW I don’t believe jack shit the other side says either.

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