We're all processing Orlando in our own ways, and nobody's feelings can be deemed more or less legitimate than anyone else's. I woke up this morning to an endless scroll of Facebook posts about vigils all over the country.
Some posts were serious, some less so. Someone I'm connected to posted a picture of yellow Minions with the words "Happy Monday" and a caption about 49 angels added to heaven. In a dog-lover's group I just joined, a woman wrote that this weekend's violence made her reflect on being the owner of a gay dog. Someone else wrote that he was dedicating his latest furry art to the victims.
Naturally, Donald Trump's reaction was the worst. He's like the reliable red devil on America's shoulder, always demonstrating the ugliest possible behavior: in this case, a smug told-you-so.
I personally avoid public displays of grief, because like weddings they are always entirely personal to the person performing them. Most people don't like to be seen when we're sad, so when that feeling does burst forth, it comes in ways that are often incomprehensible to those around us.
I continue to be sad about Orlando, but I'm going to be talking about other things today, because I can be sad without telling you about it.
— Laurie Voss (@seldo) June 13, 2016
Sadness looks weird, but smugness is worse. Don't give in to that impulse. Don't Donald this.
I understand the urge to make meaning out of stupid tragedy. This shooting proves that we need to outlaw all guns in America, and also that more people need to be armed with guns. The shooter's religion proves that Islam is violent, and the response from the community proves that Islam is peaceful. His choice of venue prove that LGBTs are targets, and his decision to target Americans that all Americans are targets. Personally, the meaning that I take away from all this is that Americans should be allowed to have a religion or a gun but not both.
But now's the time when politicians spin the shooting into whatever their cause is: Republicans are excited about sending soldiers to the Middle East, as if that's going to prevent shootings in gay bars in Florida, while Democrats will talk about gun control. Historically, one of those sides is more successful with their cause than the other; I'm guessing mass shootings are going to continue.
Ted Cruz says the solution is to "abandon political correctness," also known as treating people with respect; he also says that "nobody has a right to murder someone who doesn’t share their faith or sexual orientation." Gee thanks Ted, you might be an enthusiastic supporter of discrimination, but at least you draw the line at murder. And Marco Rubio said he might use the shooting as an excuse to change his mind about not running for office again. "It really gives you pause to think a little bit about, you know, your service to your country and where you can be most useful to your country," he said. Marco to the rescue!
Here's a sampling of the service Marco's provided to his country: saying that letting LGBT people marry is "ridiculous and absurd"; supporting the right of employers to fire people for being gay; raising money for pray-away-the-gay torture camps; and saying gay parents shouldn't have kids because they're "a social experiment."
Anyway, there are a lot of ways to respond to tragedy, but being self-satisfied is the worst. Don't be like that. Whatever your pet cause is, whatever you think this proves, whatever you hope to use this an excuse to promote, just remember, that's what the Donald Trump on your shoulder would want you to do. Look away from that impulse to whatever's on your other shoulder — maybe you see Hillary, or maybe you see your gay dog, or Lin-Manuel Miranda's Tony speech, or a vigil.
Or maybe, like me, you don't see anything there at all.