I haven’t said anything about what happened in Orlando because I wasn’t exactly sure what kind of words I wanted to use. And then, a friend linked me to this incredibly callous and homophobic Odyssey article, and I kind of figured out something.
You may have already clicked on the article, in which case, I apologize. Again, it is incredibly homophobic and tries to justify what happened in Orlando.
If you haven’t and plan to read it, I can sum it up here: when the author of the article first heard about the shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Fla., the morning after, she felt a sense of “smugness” because she thinks that homosexuality is a “great sin” and that the people who were killed and injured deserved to be. It gets worse when she feels remorse about her initial thoughts, but only because she considered how Jesus might have felt–not necessarily because she felt any more sorry for the actual human beings who were murdered, but because she should have prayed for them, like Jesus “prayed for the wicked men on the cross.” She compares the victims of the shooting–as well as every other LGBT+ person–to ISIS and North Korea in terms of the kinds of sins they’re committing. She sums up the article with the hope that those affected by the shooting (which is the worst mass shooting in U.S. history) “see the error in their ways and repent.”
And my main question for the person who wrote this ignorant and hateful article is, Why? Why did you think that your voice had a place in this conversation at all, when your mindset is, honestly, not so different from the one that the shooter had when he planned the attack, when he drove two hours to one of the more popular gay nightclubs on Latin night, when he opened fire on the innocent people in the club? Why do you think people who are grieving would want to run into your article?
You’re not the only homophobic person in the United States who was pleased about the attack when they first heard about it. You’re not special about it, and I’m sorry that the only reason you felt any emotion towards it at all was your own selfish guilt about not being the Christian Jesus would have wanted you to be. Newsflash: You don’t get the right to judge whether or not something was God’s will. We all want to find a reason in the tragedies that happen around us, but when your reasoning is that the people who were killed were killed because they were sinners, and that was God’s will, you’re not so different from the guy who pulled the trigger.
I get that the Odyssey is all about a democratized voice–whatever that means. Anybody can spew vitriolic garbage about how glad they are that someone killed a group of gay people. You can go on Twitter, or Tumblr, or Facebook and see the same thing. Anyone who wants to blog can do so. At the same time, when you’re going to be talking in a public forum–especially one like the Odyssey, which boasts more unique pageviews than either Time.com or the Huffington Post, you (as either a writer, and editor, or even both, as most are)–need to think about the impact of your words.
While you talk about feeling guilty about feeling hate towards people who you’re convinced are probably going to burn in Hell because you’re worried that you were being a bad Christian by joking about, and I repeat, the deadliest mass shooting in United States history, maybe consider the fact that these were actual people. Maybe consider the fact that, given the popularity of the Odyssey, they might have friends and family members who could run into your article while they’re grieving.
“Democratizing content” shouldn’t mean giving people permission to share hate speak and it shouldn’t mean giving them a platform for saying whatever comes out of their mouths. Do I think that most people have a story they want to share? Yes, I do. Do I think that maybe there’s a reason why people probably have more respect for stories posted on the Atlantic or Salon (and not just because there are senior editors)? When I look at “A Christian’s Response to the Orlando Shooting,” I absolutely do. It’s one thing to have an OP-ED column. It’s another when you’re giving your writers a blank check to say, yeah, I laughed when I found out gay people were killed. I mean, no apologies Evan Burns, but that seems like a really bad business model.
(I won’t go into the number of typos I saw on the front page of the beta website today, because even during my time writing and acting as an Editor-in-Chief for the Odyssey, we were having issues with our copy editor. That’s also not what this post is about–but it could be another reason why a lot of readers don’t actually take the site that seriously.)
To return back to “A Christian’s Response to the Orlando Shooting:” to be honest, if you can’t find room in your heart to feel awful about a tragedy just because it happens to a specific minority group, you’re probably not that great a person to begin with, never mind being a great Christian. When you say that God probably wanted this to happen, when you compare being gay to as great a crime as literally killing people and being actual terrorists, you’re part of the problem. How much hate do you have to have in your heart not to feel something for other people? Furthermore, why wouldn’t you have the common sense to maybe keep these particular thoughts to yourself while people are mourning? The confidence in safety that members of the LGBT+ community felt was shattered with the invasion and destruction of what was supposed to be a safe place this weekend, and you can’t even have the decency to respect that, because of people with your same opinion that “homosexuality is a great sin against God,” there is an entire community of people who do not feel safe? Who can’t broadcast who they are or who they love because someone who doesn’t even know them might hate them so much just because of their sexual orientation?
I want to believe, constantly, that things are getting better. I believe in the forward advancement of mankind in an effort to care for and love each other. At the end of the day, I do still believe that people are, in their hearts, good. I need to believe it–even when there’s so much evidence to the contrary.
And to the author of this particular article–and anyone else saying so–who claims that prayer will solve everything, I’m going to tell you: people don’t want your prayers right now as much as they want you to stop hating them.