Yesterday a 29-years old US citizen of Afghan origin drove 125 miles from his hometown to Orlando, FL, to attack the patrons of a gay club. He killed 50 of them and wounded 53 more, then got shot by a SWAT team before he could detonate a bomb. This is the story you can read pretty much everywhere – or research online, if you are reading this some years from now.
Right now people all over the world are shocked, inflamed and babbling their faces off about a number of related issues including terrorism, gun control laws, mass shootings “records”, religious conflict and the probable next US president’s outspoken racism. You can read this sort of insights elsewhere.
What I am qualified to speak about is sex. Unusual forms of sex and sexuality, to be precise, which unfortunately include unpleasant expressions such as hate crimes too. The connection to the Orlando massacre is plain: not only for how the victims were chosen, but because the killer’s father clearly revealed what triggered the attack. «He saw two men kissing each other and he got very angry» he said, and this incident precipitated a long-simmering angst against minorities that was substantiated by anyone who knew him, from his ex-wife to his colleagues. According to their reports, the attacker’s anger was fueled by his exposure to the vigilantism culture of the security firm he had been employed by as much as by a history of mental illness. Despite the man’s alleged 911 call to attribute his action to radical islamism and the terrorist group Daesh jumping to the opportunity of reclaiming the attack, the event therefore looks more and more like a “simple” hate crime than a terrorism operation. And this is why I felt I had to write something about it.
I must say I was very disappointed when I saw several other alternative sexualities advocates spinning this tragedy to push their agendas, focusing on unquestionably important gay issues (and the donations and funding that come with them) that in my opinion deserve to be discussed in more level-headed contexts. Simply crying over the losses won’t help much either. A more sensible approach seems to be reasoning about the causes, and what can we do to prevent such disasters to happen again. To this end, I searched for facts about hate crimes.
What I found is that reliable sources of information are sparse to say the least. Again, so many “facts” are wont to be spun for the benefit of whoever quotes them, and recent hard figures are hard to find. Those I found to my best were:
- A hate crime is targeted criminal activity, usually motivated by prejudice based on perceived personal characteristics of the victims. These motivations may include race, religion, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.
- The United States see an average of one hate crime each hour. That’s over 8,700 a year, a quarter of which are not reported to authorities.
- Half of hate crimes in the United States are perpetrated by people between 15 and 24. The age bracket considerably varies in other countries and can sometimes grow much larger.
- Hate crimes don’t pop up by accident but are always an expression of cultural bias fueled by learned behavior and personal distress.
In other words, there is a staggering number of very unhappy people out there, and they are ready to lash out against their scapegoat du jour. After profiling 550 perpetrators, Los Angeles psychologist Edward Dunbar wrote: ‘These people are not psychotic, but they’re consistently very troubled, very disturbed, very problematic members of our community who pose a huge risk for future violence. The childhood histories of these offenders show high levels of parental or caretaker abuse and use of violence to solve family problems.’
Their distress can have many different causes, but if the person is used to think in terms of stereotypes due to their upbringing or their source of information, they are likely to put the blame for their misery on the vaguely-defined group that in their world view best embodies evil. For example, if you have just lost your job you might infer that it happened because “the immigrants” stole it since their backward culture makes them work for less than you would. If your partner left you, thinking that “the blacks” are running a sexual crusade to brainwash our companions thanks to their giant cocks and savage customs might be easier to believe than admitting you were simply a douchebag.
Idiocies like those are inevitably directed at groups haters are not really familiar with, because otherwise they would correctly see them as a bunch of very different individuals, most of them statistically free of those alien qualities that scare them so much. You don’t have to be a monster to be ignorant, so much so that many experiments proved the common bias against those who are perceived different from ourselves.
It usually takes two elements to turn your garden-variety asshole into a full-blown criminal. The first is bias support, which may take the form of polarized news media, actual hate groups (you can choose between 892 of them in the USA alone) or any other group with a strong “us vs. them” identity, such as team supporters as shown in the frequent hooligan fights over mere sport matches. The other is a personal crisis, possibly made worse by substance abuse such as in the Orlando case, whose perpetrator was a steroids abuser. The result can be, as we’ve all seen, explosive – and what’s worse is that “successful” acts often prompt other disturbed people to carry on their impromptu vendettas.
But again, if nothing can be done to mend said effects, we as a society can change what causes them. The first thing that springs to mind is to foster a culture of tolerance and diversity, teaching everyone since childhood that people are people no matter what they look like, what they love and whichever superstition they enjoy believing in. Laws and schools play the most important role in this, and it is very important to understand that any protest against integration may be expressed (well, usually shouted) by small-minded individuals acting in good faith, but they are always orchestrated by organizations trying to hold on to their unfounded power.
Since Hitler’s times, for example, right-wing extremists couldn’t care less about racial purity or whatever bullshit they pretend to support: their point is always to protect or gain more political seats, hoarde financial assets and create laws allowing them unfair advantages over competitors. The Catholic Church obsession against abortions, same-sex marriages and “nontraditional families” has nothing to do with doctrine, but everything with enabling the birth of more followers who – after lifelong brainwashing – will be more likely to surrender whatever wealth they have accumulated to the clergy in their last wills. ‘Follow the money’ may sound cynical, but it never failed as an advice to those looking for the truth.
Looking at the news through this lens greatly helps identifying the real reasons behind supposed “controversies” and to take your stand accordingly. Once you realize that everyone’s serenity is being held hostage by the privileges of a hateful few, you are bound to feel much more motivated toward a culture of tolerance.
What’s more important however is that while fighting against established powers is by definition a noble yet extremely difficult feat, there is something else we can do. It’s somewhat easier, it works great as a remedy against other crimes too and – let’s not underestimate this point – it’s definitely more fun than spending your years in courts and parliament halls. That would be fucking. Or, more precisely, learning about sexuality and spreading the education – which, as a general side effect, brings on lots of happy, ethical and safe sex. Let me elaborate on that.
Summing up a very broad and interesting topic, libido is the instinctual drive toward sex we all share. Normally it is expressed exactly as that: plain old sex between happy and consenting people, to the delight of everyone involved. So much delight, in fact, that no sane person – not even the most desperate on Earth – can be bothered to commit a crime if they are sexually satisfied. The promise of sex, on the other hand, is enough to make people willingly submit to any ordeal from a cubicle job (which earns the money required to be independent enough and/or a reliable enough partner) to blowing themselves up to join countless ninphomaniac virgins in heaven. Problem is, libido rarely goes unhindered.
The many factors that may sidetrack sexual satisfaction are generally of cultural origin. You may not have a sexual partner due to a lack of social skills, of sexual education or due to a belief that sex is inappropriate, forbidden or “wrong”. While sometimes there is a base to this, most of the times it is yet again a social construct whose ultimate purpose is to keep people under control of one or more groups exploiting them. The reaction may be finding some odd loophole around these restrictions, but more often it simply is to channel all that unspent energy into something more socially appropriate. Like intense workouts, for example, or compulsive shopping, becoming a workaholic, a militant fanatic or – you guessed it – choosing a random target and obsess against it until you snap and actually attack it.
Of course you might very well secretely reroute your repressed libido into any one of the thousands of known paraphilias as well, but that would be just delaying a distress since unusual forms of sexuality have nothing intrinsically bad to them and are actually known to make people happier than average, but only if you share them with a partner.
The best way to fight aberrant sublimations of sex then is to raise awareness on what good sex actually is. That doesn’t mean closing your mind on non-normative variants such as kink or porn: quite the contrary, in fact. Understanding that eroticism can take many forms is very important, as much as is grasping that sexuality is just another facet of our daily lives. Putting things into perspective is the key to defuse sex panic and obsession: things don’t look so terrible once you realize that eroticism is just like eating or sleeping; sure you can take great pleasures out of it and you can turn it into an art, but to most people it’s just something natural you do as a human being, and that nobody else is really entitled to care about.
Unless, of course, you become an actual danger to yourself or others – and that’s why it is important not only to educate about sex but to teach about ethical and reality-based sexuality.
You can bet that the Orlando attacker wouldn’t have acted as he did if he just knew that gay people aren’t hell-bent on destroying “values” and he allowed himself to screw and wank more than he did, possibly free from religious guilt. And that priests would stop raping children if they weren’t so scared by adult sexuality, and that transexual teens would stop killing themselves over their perceived “abnormalities”, and that misguided “feminists” would quit raising in arms against harmless kinksters, and so on.
So, let’s cut to the chase: are you going to do anything to stop the next tragedy, or what?