Sunday, June 12, 2016

Tragedy in Orlando: Why Words And Ideas Carry Weight And Social Responsibility

Today's post isn't strictly about Neurodiversity, but it does relate to that theme in a more general sense. As I'm sure you've all heard by now, Orlando, Florida has played host to one of the most violent gun crimes in the history of the United States, if not North America as a whole. Fifty people were gunned down by an extremist with an assault rife at a gay club, all because they dared to be who they were and embrace it publicly. According to some unconfirmed reports, it all went down because the shooter found the sight of two gay men kissing to be "abhorrent."


I think it's safe to say that we're all outraged by this flagrant disregard for human life. In our haste to condemn it as a tragedy, however, let's not turn a blind eye to the toxic soup of social and religious factors that made this shooting a possibility to begin with. To paraphrase a wonderful Facebook post that has been making the rounds this morning, the physical bullets that were fired by the gunner at fifty innocent members of the LGBTQ community and their allies at the bar were made possible by the ideological and philosophical bullets that conservatives, religious fundamentalists, and other hate-filled extremists have been flinging at the gay, bi, transgendered, pansexual, intersex and related communities for years. Because you can't say bigoted things about those whose sexual orientation and gender identies are anything but straight and cisgendered on the one hand and condemn an act like this on the other. It doesn't work like that.

While the victims in this case were part of the LGBTQ community, this kind of tragedy has a very real possibility of occurring to any oppressed and marginalized group. Any time society pushes certain groups to the fringes, uses religion and social policy to diminish the value of their existences, pathologizes them, and otherwise perpetuates hate against them, we dehumanize people. And to use a rather extreme example, Nazi Germany taught us historically that, whenever others are dehumanized, it becomes that much easier to justify violence against them. This is never okay, and we need to realize that hate-filled political, religious, and social statements are no longer merely opinions; they are the currency by which we as a society purchase violent massacres and allow them to occur.

We here at Differently Wired stand with our brothers, sisters, and siblings of non-binary gender in the LBGTQ community in our opposition to hate and intolerance. We know as well as they the difficulties of living within socially defined boxes that don't suit us, the liberation of coming out in defiance of said boxes and smashing them with our efforts to feel pride and happiness with who we are, and the stigma we face when we encounter others in the world who just don't get it. Because far beyond the "Neuro" prefix, on a more fundamental level Differently Wired has, and always will, stand for "Diversity" in all its forms. We are none of us perfect, after all, but we are all perfectly who we are meant to be.

We stand in solidarity with anyone who is gay, bi, pansexual, transgendered, intersex and others, and with all the victims of this horrible tragedy. Let's work to ensure it never happens again.

As always, yours in Diversity,

Adam Michael

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