Brief Thoughts on San Bernardino

I’ve hesitated to comment on yesterday’s massacre in San Bernardino, Cal., USA while waiting for more information to emerge and while formulating my own opinion while taking in those of friends, journalists and media commentators. Gun violence is hardly uncommon in the US; just several days ago we were mourning the victims at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood and discussing whether our nation’s gun laws need revisiting. And now, just days later, we’re mourning the loss of fourteen lives and the wounding of seventeen more individuals. What will it take to inspire actual change in the regulation of firearms in this country? How many more need to die?

What I really want to write about, though, is the rapidity with which those on the right revert to “mental illness” as an excuse for domestic terrorism. While that may be true in some instances, using a disease to attempt to rationalize gun violence not only serves to shift a focus away from regulation of firearms but also to further stigmatize an already-mocked population, the mentally ill. I’ve served multiple stints on psych wards, am in therapy, on anti-depressants and not ashamed of any of those facts. I consider it a personal mission to end the stigmatization of the mentally ill. It’s a medical condition, just like asthma, cancer, sickle-cell anemia. It’s all too convenient to blame a violent rampage on mental illness when it may have nothing to do with a diagnosable illness. I suffer from social anxiety disorder and clinical depression — and have for many years — but I have zero intention of shooting anyone, let alone even shooting period. I have never and will never fire a gun.

Along with the demonization of mentally ill individuals comes the all-too predictable demonization of Muslims, as is de rigueur in the US. It’s fashionable to call anyone who practices Islam a terrorist — and has been since 09.11. Islam is a religion of peace, and the overwhelming majority of Muslims are peaceful individuals; equating Islam with ISIS is equivalent to equating Christians with Robert Dear. Instead of addressing the real issue of gun control, those on the right revert to scapegoating and prayers, while the gods couldn’t give a shit. When will we actually address gun legislation?


~ by Benji on December 3, 2015.

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