Orlando: Hate Crime or Love Crime?
When he first heard about the Orlando shooting, Donald Trump gleefully declared that he was right—that there would be jihad attacks. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton’s first response was that it was a gay hate crime, and that the problem was guns. I always like to think they’re both partly right—but mostly wrong.
Instead of a “gay hate crime,” what if it was a “gay love crime”?
The Orlando Sentinel says the shooter was a regular at the gay night club.
At least four regular customers at the Orlando gay nightclub where a gunman killed 49 people said Monday that they had seen Omar Mateen there before.
“Sometimes he would go over in the corner and sit and drink by himself, and other times he would get so drunk he was loud and belligerent,” Ty Smith said. . .
Smith told the Orlando Sentinel that he saw Mateen inside at least a dozen times.
“We didn’t really talk to him a lot, but I remember him saying things about his dad at times,” Smith said. “He told us he had a wife and child.”. . .
Another Pulse regular, Kevin West, told the Los Angeles Times that Mateen messaged him on and off for a year using a gay chat app.
Meanwhile, the Palm Beach Post added support that he was gay.
A former classmate of Omar Mateen’s 2006 police academy class said he believed Mateen [the shooter] was gay, saying Mateen once asked him out. . .
The classmate said that he, Mateen and other classmates would hang out, sometimes going to gay nightclubs, after classes at the Indian River Community College police academy. He said Mateen asked him out romantically.
“We went to a few gay bars with him, and I was not out at the time, so I declined his offer,” the former classmate said. He asked that his name not be used. . .
The Canadian Press reported Monday that Mateen had been seen there over three years.
Chris Callen recalled the eventual killer being escorted drunk from the Pulse bar on multiple occasions, including one incident where he pointed a knife at a friend. . .
The former classmate said the group, including Mateen, went to four gay clubs in the Treasure Coast and West Palm Beach in 2006: Kashmir Night Club in West Palm Beach, Byrd Cage in Port St. Lucie, Cold Keg in Melbourne and Rebar in Port St. Lucie.
Could it be that this was not a matter of jihad? Yes, he made a 911 call claiming allegiance to a Sunni extremist group. But he also claimed allegiance to a Shi’ite extremist group. That doesn’t make sense. Is it possible that this was just an excuse, when self-hatred was the truth?
Could the anger and hatred that brought about the shooting really have, at its base, the frustration and humiliation of “a lover scorned”?
Could it be that the cognitive dissonance of trying to be Muslim, yet not being able to help being gay just became too much? The BBC had an interview with a British Muslim, who also felt anger and hatred—until he came to accept that he was gay.
Sohail Ahmed said he grew up hating the West after being indoctrinated by strict Muslim parents and sent to a hardline madrassa in east London. . .
But Sohail said that doubts about his own sexuality and help from former extremists at the Quilliam Foundation helped him move away from Islamism.
. . . while at university, Sohail started having doubts about his own extreme views. He began researching evolution, which extremists insist didn’t happen.
But Sohail found himself convinced by the scientific evidence.. .
He was also coming to terms with the fact that he was gay: “I had these thoughts since I was young. But as a kid I was told what you do with gay people.
You throw them off the mountain and stone them to death. So growing up I hated myself. I thought I was something evil.
“I was very homophobic. I would join in with homophobic jokes.
“ISIS are throwing gay people off buildings to their death in Syria and I can just imagine that being me or someone I care about.
“But what disturbed me even more was that it could have been me carrying it out.
“I could have been the victim or the perpetrator.”
The Orlando shooter may have been very much like Ahmed. But wasn’t able to get past the self-loathing, and hatred of people just like him. After all, as a devout religious gay person, he was supposed to stone himself to death.
Every episode like this is complicated. This is just one angle. Someone said, “for every complicated problem, there is a simple solution—that will make matters worse.” In this case, banning all Muslims is stupid, and banning all guns is stupid. Instead of wearing “I’m with her” shirts, maybe supporters of Hillary and Trump should wear, “I’m with stupid.”