It lessens the whole thing to add ‘another’ doesn’t it?

Good. It is supposed to. While the world of social media loses their collective shit over two events, the killings continue in Chicago. Three people were killed, 16 wounded in shootings from 6PM and 4:10AM CDT Saturday 6/11/16 into Sunday, 6/12/16. That makes 270 homicides YTD.

But the news is about a singer from The Voice, and a terrorism incident at a nightclub in Orlando.

Christina Grimmie was a contestant on The Voice in 2014, and was, by all accounts, a talented singer (I don’t watch the show, or listen to pop, so I’d not heard of her). My initial reaction, based on the photo the news showed (being across the room, and the volume being off) was that she was Michelle Chamuel, a singer also on The Voice, who a cousin of mine knows fairly well. She was killed by a deranged fan.

The attack at the Orlando nightclub, the Pulse, was terrorism, with a shooter killing (at this writing) 50, wounding at least 53 more. The shooter appears to have been Muslim, and that this was a direct attack on homosexuality, possibly with the knowledge/urging/support of ISIS. But it is early, and that may not be the case. It likely is, given the way it is being reported (as fact, not supposition, based on easily verifiable data).

In Chicago, Orlando, and the Grimmie shooting, people are already blaming the availability of firearms, mental illness, and Islam. To them I have only the following to say:


That felt good. Look, let me put this into some plain words – if you blame anything other than the actions of the individual, you are probably wrong.

Guns are tools, no more or less than a screwdriver, vegetable peeler, or paintbrush. A gun possess neither agency nor volition, and can do nothing on its own. Blaming a gun for a murder is no more logical than blaming a car for a DUI. Absent guns, Christina Grimmie would likely still be dead, killed perhaps by a kitchen knife. Or other means. The Pulse attack would have happened, possibly with knives or swords, but possibly with bombs. The issue isn’t the tool, it is the hand wielding the tool. There are too many people who forget that. So stop blaming the gun.

Mental Illness
Nope. Not in the medical sense at least. Mental illness is a go-to for those who are not comfortable blaming guns, but are too morally bankrupt to blame a person. Well, that may be too harsh. They may be too mentally damaged themselves to want to accept that people are responsible for their actions, so they have to blame something, lest they be blamed for their own failures. But barring a few rare instances, mental illness is really not to blame. Insanity is. And no, they are not the same.

For those who forgot / slept through / didn’t take any kind of intro to psychology course in high school or college, sanity is a legal term, not a medical one. Sanity, legally, is knowing an action is right or wrong (legal or illegal). Not a mental illness – one can have all the mental illnesses, and still not be legally insane. Or have none, and be legally batshit crazy. The people who commit these actions are, by the very act of committing the action, not sane. This is not a comment on their status vis a vis DSM IV, but on their actions. So, stop blaming mental illness too.

This is trickier. I have known a few Muslims, and they were, to a one, good people. A former coworker of mine, Asif, shared his sister’s shwarma version that is still my gold standard (Asif shared one day, and lo, were we blessed to be present for it!). But, sadly, there is a facet of Islam that says ‘no changes ever’ and another that holds the Koran to be literal in every respect. And because of that, there are verses that can be easily read as calls to kill – not only unbelievers, but homosexuals in specific. This is the reading that ISIS is in support of, as witnessed by their habit of public executions of suspected homosexuals by throwing them off towers.

But that is a tremendous over-simplification of an entire religion, akin to the Christians insisting that homosexuals be killed based on Leviticus 20 while ignoring the rest of the rules – like no makeup. I am the first to admit that Islam, as written in the Koran and hadiths, is an abhorrent thing to me, and that I find it highly offensive. Especially since there seems to be no concept of a reformation or reform within the religion to allow for a peaceful coexistence.  But guess what? Stop blaming Islam at large.

Blame the person. Seriously. How have we gotten to a place where we cannot see that the person commits the crime, not the person’s culture, clade, tool, or other things? No one but the person responsible is responsible. The Muslim down the street may think the shooter was right, but they aren’t responsible. They may think this is horrible, and itself an attack on their faith, still not responsible. The gun, gun dealer, gun manufacturer, and so forth are also not responsible. No more than GM is responsible for the actions of the driver of one of their trucks that killed 5 cyclists near Kalamazoo, MI.

Personal. Responsibility. Seriously, this needs to become a thing.