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Bruce Bialosky

An Attempt at a Civil Debate

After a person shot up a Colorado nightclub frequented principally by LGBTQ people, fingers started pointing. The immediate reaction from the Left of Center crowd was to blame Republicans and rhetorical leaders on whom they rely. Many tied this incident to the deranged person in the Paul Pelosi incident. Someone I have known for many years did just that on an Instagram post. That is when I started a discussion as to why that posting had been done.

I wrote to that person, “I am often fascinated when people want to attribute the actions of mentally ill people to a political philosophy. This particular nutcase (in Colorado) tried to kill his mother last year. Seems like someone not driven by any particular brand of hate. Why he went into this nightclub is not worth exploring. He was a sick person who needed to be institutionalized. We should not be debating his motive. Or pointing fingers. “

The person wrote back, “If you close your eyes, turn your head, and plug your ears long enough, you’ll never see what you don’t want to see.” “’Not worthy of exploring’ and ‘We should not be debating his motive’ is what someone says when they either don’t see or care about solving the problem. Reducing this to mental illness ignores an array of other variables and influences.”

My response was this, “Deborah Lipstadt (now United States Special Envoy Monitoring and Combating Anti-Terrorism) attributed Robert Gregory Bowers, who shot up Tree of Life Synagogue, to Trump because of something Bowers said in his long-winded manifesto. Yet she ignored the part where he attacked and disavowed Trump. As I say these people are just demented. I called her on that.”

His retort was “I don’t understand how you think the two things are mutually exclusive of one another. You can attack Trump and can be driven by his political message. You can be ‘demented’ and driven by influences in society. You’re looking for a single reason – mental illness or lack of community. And you don’t care to look further. It is not the guns. The guns are just a tool of choice. But who did he turn those guns against? I look at it as an unhinged person, with a propensity toward violence. You see that too. But then I also look at how and at whom the violence is directed. And how this person picks their victim(s) and what influences those selections.”

To which I responded “You have a false assumption. You believe these people are capable of any form of rational thought.”

Then the world changed over night as the New York Times reported that the man who shot the people in Colorado was not who he had been touted to be.

Jeff Charles wrote this in Red State “It appears the left has been peddling yet another false narrative. The New York Times reported on Tuesday night that the alleged gunman who conducted a mass shooting at an LGBTQ club in Colorado identifies as “non-binary.” According to a court filing, the suspect’s public defenders note that Anderson Aldrich, the suspected shooter, uses “they/them” pronouns. New York Times reporter Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs posted a tweet that the defense attorneys refer to the defendant as “Mx. Anderson Aldrich.”

I sent that to my friend and did not hear back from that person, so I sent another email. “So, you were not able to respond to what I sent you about the shooter in Colorado and you haven’t posted your retraction of your attack on those ‘right-wingers’ who caused him to shoot up a nightclub. You know the guy who tried to blow up Mom. Maybe in the future you will heed my words and assign mental illness to these people.”

The response was, “I have no obligation to respond to you, busy or not (channeling something along the lines of don’t pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel). And I have no intent to retract anything. But bottom line is that you’re so off base in jumping from ‘he wants to be referred to as they/them’ to ‘he did this only because he was mentally ill.’ You again are so defensive that you refuse to believe that societal messages and influences could have any role in someone’s decision to do something terrible. Go listen to the interview with his father where the father says ‘I praised him for violent behavior really early. I told him it works’ and ‘You know Mormons don’t do gay. We don’t do gay. There’s no gays in the Mormon church. We don’t do gay.’”

“You don’t think stuff like that can drive someone who is gay to be so ashamed that he does something terrible? You’re so convinced that this bigotry that people you support spout has no effect, and logically I cannot understand that. Maybe in the future, you’ll think beyond your partisan blinders and consider that words have consequences. But I doubt it. “

I responded, “Actually my comments are the ones which are nonpartisan. I am the one who says never attribute the ranting of a deranged killer to a political belief. I am the one who says these people are mentally ill and twisted and should not be argued from the left or the right.”

“You are attributing his actions to his rejection of his Mormon upbringing now stating his father is the cause of his actions. And his father’s anti-gay beliefs. So, his father is anti-gay, and he is gay, so he is going to kill five gay people. You are the one who is so vested in your beliefs you posted an attack on all Republicans in a public forum. I continue on the same path because I believe it is the only path. Making these abhorrent attacks because of someone’s supposed political beliefs is just not accurate or the right thing to do. It divides us.”

The person came back, “We’re circling the issue over and over. You believe mental illness is the only cause. I don’t know why you believe this, but my worst assumption leads me to believe that it’s because the hateful messages of a hateful wing of the GOP is being tied to the shooter’s actions (not the entire GOP, not all conservatives). And you’re a-okay with this hateful message. I believe things don’t happen in a vacuum (the perpetrators of the bombings in Israel today weren’t just homicidal lunatics, they were anti-Semitic terrorists driven by a nut job barbaric viewpoint). And I didn’t post an attack on anyone. My post essentially said hate filled words have consequences. And I highlighted who had been speaking those words. When you believe my attacks are abhorrent but what Tucker Carlson says every night isn’t abhorrent, you’re lost. I’m not responding to you anymore. I’m never going to convince you of anything. Nobody is. “

There is no question that people are motivated by hate of something whether it be Jews or Gays or their other flavor of hatred. There are times when people commit acts of violence, and they are clearly directed against a targeted group. To then lurch to the extreme and point fingers at a political opponent is the issue in question. At some point these people may have been rational, but a rational person does not go out and kill multiple people they have never meet.

It was pointed out after the events that soon followed in Virginia at the Wal-Mart that Democrats point fingers at Republicans when it is convenient, but then point fingers at guns when the person is inconvenient (a black man in Virginia).

Whether that be true or not, someone – anyone- going into a place and shooting a handgun or long gun (or what has been happening more frequently, knifing a bunch of strangers to death) is a sure sign the person is mentally ill. We should be trying to fix that problem instead of stretching to place blame on our political opposition. No wonder we have such a divided country.