I am sad about what happened in Orlando. I do not like any situation where people die. And I am intellectually aware that people want people like me to be dead, but I usually don’t have to think about it, and it is sad to be so vividly reminded.
But more than that I am afraid of the consequences of the Orlando shooting.
I am afraid of the consequences for neurodivergent people. I’m afraid of better “access to treatment” that is a euphemism for coercion into treatment. I’m afraid of more stigma against psychotic people and anyone else who’s off-putting enough to get fear rather than pity, which means that neurodivergent people do not get the support we need to have lives worth living.
I am afraid of gun policy that is based not on a sober assessment of the risks and benefits, but on fear of lurid yet rare incidents– gun policy that thinks that we’re dealing with mass shooters instead of suicides. Gun policy needs to be solidly grounded in evidence, not in grief.
I am afraid of more xenophobia against immigrants, since the shooter was himself the child of immigrants. Immigration is a vitally important weapon against global poverty, lifting up many migrants from absolute poverty to first-world poverty within mere weeks. I am worried that this will be taken as another opportunity to tighten the border a little more.
I am afraid for our civil liberties, increasingly lost to the fight against terrorism. More surveillance. More entrapment. More indefinite detention. I am afraid of the slow loss of what makes America America– our freedoms– in the name of allegedly defending them.
I am afraid of war.
I am afraid of the deaths of noncombatants, including children, and other violations of international law involving war.
I am afraid of billions of dollars which could be used on foreign aid or a social safety net or scientific research or anything else that could save many, many more lives than were lost in the Orlando shooting, instead being directed to fight a global war on terror.
I am afraid of discrimination against Muslims, of increased profiling and stigma against them as violent. The violations of civil liberties will disproportionately affect Muslims, and I greatly fear for anyone who is subject to state violence. I don’t have to agree with people to think that they should have rights. That’s the thing about rights. They ought to belong to everyone.
I am afraid of the effects on feminist and pro-LGBT Muslims. A bitter and embattled minority group is significantly less likely to listen to anything that smacks of its enemies. This makes it harder for feminist and pro-LGBT Muslims to make the case that equality is a universal value and a Muslim value– not just a Western value.
It is said that any law named after a dead child is a bad law. The same thing, I think, is true of laws made immediately after a mass shooting. It is natural to mourn, but do not let your grief make you do things that will hurt far more people than were hurt in the shooting. That is a poor way to memorialize the dead.