Religious Musing: On The 6/11/2016 Orlando Shooting

Orlando Mourners

 

Feel free to not read this. I just needed to get it off my chest.

Common sense gun control is completely necessary in The United States. It’s also not going to happen any time soon. If we learned anything from Columbine, The Amish School Shooting, The Dark Knight and Trainwreck shootings, Sandy Hook, Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood, and San Bernadino it’s that we’re not going to learn anything. The gun lobby, and specifically the NRA are too powerful to slow gun sales, or to encourage background checks. As I write this, AR-15 sales are through the roof because that’s the model used by Omar Mateen to shoot up a night club in Orlando. There is not enough financial incentive to change American gun laws. As callous and unsympathetic as it sounds, the money favors mass shootings to continue. But I don’t think that that means nothing can be done.

I normally hate the “mental health” pro-gun argument. You know the one. It goes like: “Don’t politicize this new tragedy. We need time to heal. The problem isn’t with guns. If a good guy with a gun had been there this wouldn’t have even happened! The real problem is that [shooter’s name here] was mentally ill. If he had been given the care he needed this whole thing could have been avoided.” The purpose of this argument is to politicize the issue. It’s also to ignore the actual problem. It’s brilliant because it contains a lot of truth. No, if a good guy with a gun had been at Sandy Hook, the Charleston Baptist church, Columbine, Aurora, Colorado, or Virginia Tech the attacks wouldn’t have been prevented. But everything else is spot on. We should be allowed to mourn (we’re never given enough time to do this because the shootings happen too close to each other). We shouldn’t politicize tragedy (human nature makes this impossible to avoid). And mental illness is a major problem in the US.

Best case scenario for the mental illness is that the sufferer is left homeless. It’s unfortunate that this is what we do with the most vulnerable, most dangerous elements of society but there you have it. There’s myriad reasons this happens, largely the fault of Ronald Regan. Either way, the fact is we don’t take care of damaged people. Blame for this can also be laid on democrats as well, who continue to insist on impossible gun control reform and ignore the arguments for mental health actions because they’re too busy disagreeing with the other side of the aisle. Politics is fucked, and pretty much always has been. But, it seems at this point that agreement on mental health would at least help a large portion of Americans if not actually stop these occasions of carnage. Just because the “Mental healthers” are the mouth pieces for Winchester and S&W doesn’t mean their hearts aren’t in the right place.

With that being said, there’s a specific reason I chose to wrote this. In a book I never read Robert M. Prisig said “When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called a Religion.” If we want to get serious about mental health, let’s get serious. There is a certain mental illness we all respect, and like sex and money we refuse to discuss it in mixed company. Religious beliefs are treated very delicately, if you ever ask why the answer is going to be some version of “just cuz.” The truth is that religion is as dangerous as mental illness, and has a much higher death toll. About 24 hours ago that number raised by at least 53 because of a stand off in Orlando.  Omar Mateen pledged his allegiance to a prayer group which fancies themselves a nation, and is quickly gaining land throughout the sovereign countries of Syria and Iraq. ISIS combines the douchiness of Martin Shkreli and the battle tactics of Jeffry Dahmer. They are the nastiest kind of cowards, those who truly believe in what they’re doing.

The reason I told you to not read this is because of what I actually believe about ISIS. They’re often called religious extremists, and I don’t think they are. Their actions are indeed extreme. Videotaping beheading, stealing land, and threatening heads of state is extreme. But is it religiously extreme? I don’t think so. Believing that all of those actions are justified because of their belief in a God that allows any of them is extreme. But, it’s no more extreme than believing in literally any other religion. Shunning electricity and the family members that don’t like the Amish, abusing animals and children by forcing them into your world view like the Amish, and selling quilts to fund your subjugation of women like the Amish also seem extreme in the opinion of this writer. As extreme? Obviously not. But ISIS is reading their holy book and interpreting it literally. Are they wrong? Of course, but so is everyone else. Every major holy book can be read as a collection of hate speech padded for palatability. As Christopher Hitchens said, “I pose a hypothetical question. As a man of some fifty-seven years of age, I am discovered sucking the penis of a baby boy. I ask you to picture your own outrage and revulsion. Ah, but I have my own explanation all ready. I am a mohel: an appointed circumciser and foreskin remover. My authority comes from an ancient text, which commands me to take a baby boy’s penis in hand, cut around the prepuce, and complete the action by taking his penis in my mouth, sucking off the foreskin, and spitting out the amputated flap along with a mouthful of blood and saliva.”

Religion and guns go hand in hand. As Christ The Lamb said “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.” I think all agents of chaos should be eliminated from polite society. Religion doesn’t deserve the respect we give it. If someone tells you they believe in God, you should at least be allowed to ask for an explanation. At the very least, acceptance of religion should be met with friction equal to its body count. The fact is that an incredible number of facets common to modern society are designated a specified death sentence in the Talmud, the New Testament, The Book Of Mormon, and The Koran. The Bhagavad Gita, Dianetics, and the Buddhist teachings are less focused in their pleas for gore. So what’s more extreme? Following the specific word of the book you call sacred, or simply picking out the nice parts?

I honestly don’t believe the answer to this question is simple. Life is both very difficult and very dope, sometimes simultaneously. Trying to reconcile that fact isn’t easy. When someone tells you they have an answer, any answer, it’s almost too easy to believe them no matter how fantastical their explanation is. When these answers come at the same time in your life that your brain is forming, it’s an even simpler trick to fall for. I’d wager everything I own that the majority of religious devoutists were either raised from childhood into their belief system, or brought into it at a time of confusion/difficulty. Even if there aren’t atheists in foxholes, that doesn’t make religion factual, or even morally correct.

Distressed or gullible people are obviously the targets of religious teachings. So, if a gullible person claims to believe every word of the bible, yet suffers a witch to live, is he any more in the moral right than a person who claims to believe every word of The Koran, and proceeds to rain down a shower of brimstone on a homosexual? The true question here is, which is worse; benevolent hypocrisy or malevolent action? An eternal debate to be sure. The true answer to this philosophical quandary is simple. It’s a false dichotomy. Both choices are degrees of wrong that shouldn’t be tolerated. The simplest answer is that no religion is correct. And arguing over the degree by which they’re incorrect is a waste of time. The simplest answer to any religious questions is, “they’re all wrong and shouldn’t be given any respect or credence.”

The simplest answer is to stop respecting this evil. “I Disapprove of What You Say, But I Will Defend to the Death Your Right to Say It” stops applying when you load the ball bearings into the bomb on your chest. It stops when a gay Christian teenager kills himself to avoid persecution. It stops when you invade settlements that double as people’s homes because you consider the land holy. It also stops when you partially agree with the doctrine of the committers of those actions. Religion is the problem, not guns, not mental health.

Yes, guns and mental health are major issues in America. They may be the two biggest issues in America. But, religion is giving allowances to both. Is every killing spree in this country a religious attack? No, but the one’s for which we don’t discuss the motive are the only of their kind. Omar Mateen is a zealot, just like Jebidiah Strauss in Lancaster PA and Tom Cruise in Los Angeles, CA. None of them have earned their status of socially or politically privileged. In short, fuck your beliefs, and fuck the people that share them.

I think Religious doctrine is unambiguous about how gay people should be dealt with. What happened in Orlando wasn’t an act of religious extremism, it was an act of religion. The privileged status superstition receives in this country is inexcusable and, in very small part is to blame for this tragedy as well as the one in San Bernadino, and the Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs. I’m very frustrated that thoughts and prayers are being sent out. I’m very frustrated that we treat people’s non-sensical clinging to dangerous myths with such high regard in our culture. I’m very frustrated that gun control is on every liberal’s mind when this country has more than one reason for public violence. Our culture excuses dangerous beliefs, treating these delusions with kid gloves only because we think religion is supposed to be protected. There is no reason for this, and any reason given is a lie.

If you read this after I said not to, and were offended, I truly hope you didn’t.

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