I don’t know why the person who choose to kill 49 innocent people in Orlando June 12 did what he did. And, frankly, I don’t care, either – as if there could ever be any sort of logical reason or justification for brutally gunning down four dozen human beings in the first place.
Alas, the media can’t help but speculate. Hoping to latch on to the morbid sensationalism for as long as they can, virtually every “catalyst” you can think of has been hinted as a motivation for the gruesome rampage. The root cause was radical Islam. No, wait, it was pervasive homophobia. Nope, it was easy accessibility of semi-automatic weapons … no, it was because of legislation that prevented more people from bringing guns into the public sphere. And in one of the lowest points in the history of any medium ever, Salon columnist Amanda Marcotte actually blamed the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history on – wait for it – the cast of Duck Dynasty’s beards. No, I am NOT making that up.
Other than to keep riding the coattails of tragedy to website hits and a spike in TV viewership, all of this conjecture about the “reasons” for the gunman’s horrific actions are pointless. Any attempt to “explain” away the deplorable incident through some convenient scapegoat – the mental illness du jour, whichever contemporary ideology you don’t like, the U.S. legal framework, etc. – is an exercise in futility that deflects culpability away from the pathetic murderer and his inexcusable actions.
It helps us sleep a lot easier at night knowing there’s some sort of sociopolitical boogeyman out there, a snake pit we can trace all our existential terror and fear and anxiety back to. It’s a coping mechanism that reassures us by suggesting that people and their horrible actions can be reversed by simply changing the things they believe in. We could civilize the brutes if only we could convince them of the truths we hold dear in our hearts. By making people think and feel exactly as we do, we can prevent future carnage from transpiring.
Human nature isn’t that simple. We can hold hands and light candles and sing songs all day and all night long, but it isn’t going to change the way some individuals view the world around them. And it sure isn’t going to do anything to affect their decision-making processes, which most neurologists believe is practically an unchangeable, hard-wired cognitive phenomenon by the time an individual reaches the age of 25.
We have to remember that what we consider “rational” isn’t a universal utility, and that for others, things we consider illogical are perfectly reasonable things to do. In the case of the Orlando massacre, the shooter came to a point where he thought gunning down 49 people was a totally rational act. He – and he alone – weighed his options and decided that of the virtually endless string of things he could’ve done that morning, racking up the all time mass shooting high score was the best possible decision he could’ve made at that time. It doesn’t matter what the external factors or pre-existing experiences that may have shaped his decision-making were, he simply decided to embark upon his bloody rampage because he had the wherewithal to carry it out and he simply wanted to.
Decision-making, it must be said, is an independent faculty, regardless of the existence of mental illness. Even individuals with severe schizophrenia have the capacity to premeditate and self-analyze their actions. To simply write off the actions of mass shooters – who carefully and meticulously drew up their blueprints of destruction – on “mental health” is fundamentally no different than blaming what they do on demonic possession.
The same holds true for cultural ideologies.
Islamofacism didn’t make him do what he did. Neither did homophobia or gun culture or toxic masculinity or any of the other politically-charged, agenda-serving “triggers” drummed up by shameless, opportunistic special interests group. The only thing you can blame for the tragedy, ultimately, is the person responsible for it – the individual who made the conscious, deliberate decision as an independent, free-thinking agent to kill people.
You can outlaw as many weapons as you like, close the borders to whichever group of people you are suspicious of and rally behind as many “pro-tolerance” initiatives as you can muster. Things like what happened in Orlando are still going to happen. They always have, and they always will.
As long as people have free will, they are going to do terrible things. There is no solution to this, other than to hope and/or pray that there are considerably more people out there who choose to do selfless, altruistic things instead of self-gratifying, destructive ones.
And in case you are wondering which side is winning the war for humanity?
Remember – just one person chose to go out that evening and viciously murder 49 strangers.
Meanwhile, millions of strangers from all across the globe came together the very next day to rally behind the victims and their families.