Tag Archives: violence

Trump Supporters: This guy is walking away with love

I’ve spent the day alone reflecting and emoting and trying to work through my bitterness about this historically stupid election. While I think it is important to be humble and gracious in defeat, this one is a little different. We could say that the “people have spoken” and in a sense, they have. Donald Trump won the electoral college. He lost the popular vote by a narrow margin. So… it is arguable exactly how the people have spoken. Regardless, the fact remains that half of America voted for a man who is unbelievably discriminatory and the ramifications of his victory will likely have significant effects for decades.

I won’t speculate on his economic, environmental, and foreign policies (The proof will be in the proverbial pudding on those, and we will now see, once again, what effect unintelligent policy will have in those areas)… Instead, I will focus on why this loss has devastated me personally, and what I intend to do with it…

My entire life I have watched and listened as my rights as a gay American citizen have been flippantly bandied about, as though my rights, my opportunities, my protections under the law are somehow secondary in importance to others. I have smiled uncomfortably during casual conversations wherein members of my own family laughed and gloated about the fact that they started a bar fight by randomly calling fellow patrons “faggots.” I have been gracious and laughed ala courtesy as off-color, unfunny jokes were made that are reductive and perpetuate harmful stereotypes. I have tried tirelessly to be likable and agreeable, often being overly kind, so as to win love and approval, and aspects of that I will never change.

You see, while it may be surprising to some, there is nothing inherently different about me. I like to think I am strong, but if you cause harm it will hurt. I like to think I am confident in my abilities, but my self-doubt and insecurity is oftentimes crippling. I go through life searching for happiness and fulfillment with my own unique set of strengths, weaknesses, and adversities, and I do the best I can with it. Just like everyone does. And I’ve had some pretty awesome victories, some pretty devastating defeats, and I’ve done the only thing I know to do throughout it all: The best I possibly can. Does this sound familiar? It should. It should sound familiar to every single person who will ever read this, regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, political affiliation, etc. This is part of the elusive human condition that we are all trying to understand.

One thing, however, that will always separate me from others is when I see them engage in bigotry, violence, and destruction. Supporting a candidate who has made endless statements that are undeniably hateful, homophobic, transphobic, racist, sexist, xenophobic, cacomorphobic, is exactly that – bigoted, violent, and destructive. And I will no longer surround myself with those who find any of these things justifiable. Instead, I will be out in the world, offering as much love and support as I can, trying to make a good life for myself, and paying more taxes than Donald Trump.

I want to offer my sincerest condolences to all of those who were directly impacted by this mistake of an election, specifically my LGBTQIA family. Just remember, we are strong and we will get through this and make things right with love, not with fear. When they go low, we go high.

The Adam Lanza Interview, Sandy Hook, and the link to psychotropic medication

I was innocently browsing Tumblr yesterday, scouring through endless smut, when something very interesting and off-kilter showed up in my feed. A radio interview with Adam Lanza, the young man responsible for the Sandy Hook massacre, had surfaced on the web. Apparently Adam had called in to the anarchist station, under the pseudonym Greg, to discuss a news item he felt strongly about. Throughout the conversation, which can be accessed below via SoundCloud, Lanza remains insightful, thoughtful, even witty at times. He shows a high level of intelligence and articulation, and even displays some level of empathy, while discussing the story of Travis the chimp. He compared Travis the chimp’s violent outburst to “teenage mall shooters,” and mused about his idea that random acts of violence weren’t random at all; instead an expression of ones anger toward society’s treatment.

Immediately following the interview, Adam posted the audio on a website devoted to mass-murderers, along with the following: “It didn’t go as horribly as I expected. I wish that I hadn’t spoken non-stop about Travis for so long, but I didn’t want to seem crazy for randomly bringing up a chimpanzee for unknown reasons. And despite my failed attempt at having a normal voice, I at least sounded less incoherent than usual. I normally speak much softer and swifter, with much less articulation, less inflection, and more mumbling.”

Adam Lanza suffered from a controversial sensory disorder as a child, and was later diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome. It was later suggested that he may have been even further along the autism spectrum than initially thought. Throughout his upbringing, Adam would become enraged when he was touched, could only eat his food if it were arranged on his plate in a very particular way, and had a strong aversion to crowded hallways in his schools. An individualized treatment plan was set up, and Adam would frequently perform his studies off-site, only to return for private study after the children had left for the day. He was socially awkward and uncomfortable, though many referred to him as “a genius” who played saxophone and studied Mandarin Chinese.

Beginning in December 2009, Adam took to Internet message forums to express his views, which were often controversial and evidenced a pronounced disdain for society. Registering the username “Smiggles,” Adam was often insightful, though clearly disturbed. Some on the website accused him of being a pedophile, while other documentations claimed that Adam was self-described as “asexual,” and sometimes expressed homosexual fantasies. Materials recovered from his home after the shooting included writings that advocated for the rights of pedophiles, as well as a screenplay that depicted a relationship between a 10-year-old boy and a 30-year-old-man.

In December of 2011, Adam posted something rather poignant, while still expressing disdain for societal conditioning:

Thinking of this society as the default state of existence is the reason why you think that humans would be “not well” for “no reason whatsoever.” Civilization has not been present for 99% of the existence of hominids, and the only way that it’s ever sustained is by indoctrinating each new child for years on end. The “wellness” that you speak of is solely defined by a child’s submission to this process… When civilization exists in a form where all forms of alienation (among many other things) are rampant… new children will end up “not well” in all sorts of ways. You don’t even have to touch a topic as cryptic as mass murder to see an indication of this: you can look at a single symptom as egregious as the proliferation of antidepressants.

This is where Mr. Lanza and I might agree on something. The link between psychotropic medications and mass-shootings is irrefutable. It rests comfortably over ninety percent. Kip Kinkel was withdrawing from Prozac and had been prescribed Ritalin when he murdered his mother and step-father and shot twenty-two classmates, killing two in 1998. Shawn Cooper was under the influence of several anti-depressants, when he fired two shotgun rounds in his school, narrowly missing students in 1999. Eric Harris was under the influence of Luvox when he and his partner Dylan Klebold killed twelve classmates and a teacher at Columbine. Dylan Klebold’s autopsy results were not made public. Christopher Pittman was withdrawing from Paxil and Luvox when he killed his grandparents in 2001. Elizabeth Bush was taking Prozac when she opened fire at her Williamsburg school, wounding one in 2001. That same year, Jason Hoffman opened fire at his El Cajon high school, wounding five while under the influence of Effexor and Celexa. Seung-Hui Cho was being treated with anti-depressants for severe anxiety when he opened fire at Virginia Tech, killing 32 and wounding 17 in 2007. James Holmes was on Zoloft when he opened fire at a “Batman” movie screening, killing a dozen movie-goers in Colorado in 2012.

Now, in the case of Adam Lanza, his medical records were never released. Louise Tambascio, a family friend of the shooter and his mother, told 60 minutes: “I know he was on medication and everything… I know he was on medication, but that’s all I know.” Now, if we are going to ponder the question of “why” these school shootings are happening, we need to take several things into account. First of all, guns are the most efficient killing machines for Americans to get their hands on. It is well documented that the United States has a pronounced problem with gun violence. Many have pointed some blame toward Lanza’s mother (who he shot and killed prior to the Sandy Hook massacre) for having weapons of this caliber in the same house where a mentally disturbed person lived. I have to agree that this was irresponsible, but this is just one factor. In order for a massacre to take place, one must first have the desire to engage in such violence.

After Lanza’s death, some scientists were interested in studying his brain, in search of an “evil gene.” This research was controversial for many reasons, most notably because the study only included the brain of one person. I think a more worthwhile study would be further examination of the effects of psychotropic drugs on young people’s brains, particularly when there is a known link between these drugs and increased aggression, suicidal and homicidal thoughts or actions.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on my assertions, as well as your thoughts on the radio interview.

Prayer may offer comfort, but it doesn’t save lives

As of writing this, there are at last count 27 dead in Newtown, CT. And 20 of them are children.

I can still remember sitting in class in high school on April 20, 1999 and hearing the awful news about the shootings at Columbine High School. It was a Tuesday, and the following evening at my church’s youth group we had prayer for the victims and the victim’s families. A few of the really Christian kids even prayed for the families of the shooters. We found comfort together in the belief that God somehow had a plan in allowing the tragedy to happen.

Since then I’ve lost track of how many school shootings there have been. Including the incident today, there have been four other incidents of school violence this year alone: February 27: Chardon, OH; August 27: Baltimore, MD; September 26: Stillwater, OK; November 30: Casper, WY. (The latter was a bizarre and lethal case involving a high-powered bow and arrow.)

One of the constants throughout all of these cases has been the turning to prayer in the aftermath to attempt to find meaning and comfort. A quick perusal of my Facebook news feed is a veritable grief fest. Most of the messages are asking how and why this could have happened, but many have religious undertones:

“My thoughts and prayers are with all the children, teachers, their families and loved ones on this tragic day,” wrote Senator (D-MN) Amy Klobuchar on her page.

Even international coffee chain Starbucks had condolences to offer: “Our hearts and prayers are with the community and the nation.”

Not all of the messages have been positive, though. Conservative radio host Bryan Fischer delivered a message on his show today, virtually blaming the victims by saying that “God is not going to go where he is not wanted.”

The unsaid common denominator in all of these messages is the implication that God allowed this tragedy to happen. It reminds me of the Biblical story of Elijah mocking the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18): “Cry aloud, for he is a god! Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.”

This is another aspect of the sadomasochism of religion. People often turn to prayer in times of tragedy for comfort or to make sense out of senselessness, but they are either unable or unwilling to see the cognitive dissonance implicit in this. The Greek philosopher Epicurus (341 BCE – 270 BCE) summed this up best in his famous paradox:

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

There’s nothing wrong with seeking comfort or solace, but we do a serious disservice to the victims by offering empty platitudes. It holds people back from grieving and truly moving on by teaching them to believe that their loved ones aren’t really dead — that their spirits live on in a better place, and they’ll all be reunited someday in that Sweet By-and-By. While it’s nice to think that, it doesn’t make it true.