OF PIVOTS, REDACTIONS AND DEVALUING GAYS AND LATINOS
"SPEAK NO EVIL; SEE NO EVIL; HEAR NO EVIL"
Yesterday, the FBI released the transcripts of Omar Mateen’s 9-11 calls during his murderous rampage at the Pulse gay nightclub with the name of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and references to ISIS redacted. Within hours this action drew ridicule in the news media and from some Republicans, led by Speaker Paul Ryan, who suggested that that Obama Administration was playing down the attacker’s radical Islamist motivation. The FBI said that they did not want to publicize or glorify Mateen’s connections (alleged) with terrorists and Islamic terrorist organizations. Now let’s take a look at this effort to reduce the possibility that some other self-radicalized individual or member of ISIS itself, for example, who might get all hopped up to engage in more terrorist attacks by seeing the name Baghdadi or ISIS in print and on television.
The absurdity of this “public protective measure” is obvious. ISIS’s internet savvy is well known and well documented from the very first video of the on air beheading of journalist James Foley in 2014 that they distributed to the rest of the world. Following America’s worst mass killing of its kind in our checkered history of violence and mass killings, the world press has been both reporting on and following events with headlines, supported by candle light vigils and public demonstrations around the world in solidarity with us and in support of the LGBT community.
While the U.S. and the Iraqi Army have recently made significant gains on the battlefield against ISIS in Syria and Iraq and have reduced ISIS held territory by an estimated 45%, I haven’t read any news articles about ISIS being cut off from internet access. And why do I mention this? Because this would be the only means that I can think of where a blackout of names and photos might prevent another self-radicalized Islamist terrorist from mounting another mass killing rampage.
I’m assuming that the FBI’s redactions, although overturned in a few hours, were following the “Speak No Evil, See No Evil, Hear No Evil” public policy we seem to have adopted when it comes to mass killings. But before yesterday, it was America’s press including newspapers and cable television outlets who took it upon themselves to institute the “Speak No Evil, See No Evil, Hear No Evil” policy by not printing or saying Omar Mateen’s name or publishing his picture. This is called "self-censorship" something the media does quite well.
Apparently our news media believes that if the names and pictures of mass killers are not seen, heard or spoken, this will reduce the number of folks who – for whatever reasons – decide to slaughter innocent Americans in large numbers. Really? This, in the 21st Century when our every keystroke, every conversation, every online transaction is recorded by either government agencies or private corporations? Or both? Really? This is how we are going to prevent more bloodshed from mass murderers? By 24/7 reporting of mass slaughters but not speaking the ‘evil one’s” name or showing the “evil one’s” pic, this is going to prevent additional mass killings? How absurd.
It was with not a small, personal pang of irony yesterday, when it was the media – along with Republicans and Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan (R-WI) – who exploded in righteous indignation over the FBI redactions. The same media who decided days ago that they would not mention Omar Mateen’s name nor display his photograph.
“Speak No Evil, See No Evil, Hear No Evil” – such a brilliant public policy.
But here’s another “policy” that’s equally effective: the NRA’s “Only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun.” This is the homily that Wayne LaPierre trotted out one more time yesterday in defense of the NRA’s unlimited guns for everyone because: "Freedom." We’ve heard this private corporate policy declaration by Wayne many times before. Pretty much after every mass slaughter, as a matter of fact. And, need I even mention it, several members of the pussy-whipped Congress publicly maintain this prime defense against Orlando style bloodshed.
But taking a look at Orlando, at least from the details we know now, the cop who was serving as the Pulse’s security guard on June 12, 2016 was armed. Don’t know what he was armed with but apparently it was not with an AR-15 or Selig Sauer MCX since he has stated that in the exchange of gunfire with Mateen he was simply outgunned, overpowered by superior weaponry. But when the first wave of Orlando police officers arrived on the scene, they too engaged Mateen with guns blazing. And based on our all too common familiarity with similar mass killing events, when the word goes out that there is an “active shooter situation” broadcast over police radios, typically every available officer rushes to the scene. So let’s assume that it was more than one or two (yes, this is speculation) armed police officers who engaged Mateen after the first cop was out gunned. But they too were unable to kill Mateen as Wayne LaPierre’s “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” would have you believe. The second wave of armed policemen with guns only drove Mateen to the back of the club where he held patrons hostage for hours. I have to ask, just how many “good guys” with guns does the NRA propose are needed to stop a lone “bad guy with a gun?” Is it 6 to 1? 12 to 1? Or maybe the number depends on what the shooter is armed with. Yeah, this must be it. We will await Wayne LaPierre and the NRA’s advice on this issue.
It remains unsaid if any of the Pulse patrons were killed by police gunfire rather than by Mateen himself. I sympathize with Orlando’s police department for not being all that anxious to delve into this moral morass. They, on the other hand, were faced with an immediate, deadly situation and acted responsibly given the situation. But Congress’ abject cowardice and moral bankruptcy in not passing a single piece of gun control legislation in the aftermath of the Pulse gay nightclub bloodshed is not only reprehensible but downright criminal. They have no excuse.
We have fully “pivoted” away from whatever gay influences, nuances, roots Omar Mateen’s rampage that killed 49 men and woman and wounded 50 more that might be relevant to understanding the “why” of this horrific act of hate and terrorism. But, hey, it’s much more palatable to accept the easy explanation rather than acknowledge that “radical Islamic terrorism” is not the whole story. Just like the media’s misguided “policy” of censoring the name of the murderer, Omar Mateen, and a blackout of Omar’s face to prevent more such terrorist acts, it appears that the press has also decided that it’s simply not worthwhile to explore this other glaring aspect of the life and personal history of Omar Mateen.
After all, the 49 dead people were mainly – if not exclusively – gay and, just to add to the mix, predominantly Latino. Apparently gays and Latinos are simply not important enough in the scheme of things to warrant the kind of journalistic investigation that might actually shed some light into the motivations of Omar Mateen.
This is the issue we are no longer discussing.