I am thinking that we are too quick to call the lunatic in Orlando a terrorist and associate him with “terrorism” in the accepted sense of the word.
He was born in New York. His wife said she left him because he was physically violent, bipolar and unmedicated. His workmates thought he was severely unbalanced and regret not having done more to get him confined.
I think that it’s too early to see him as different from any other dramatically disturbed person. No matter what his professed religion, the general climate of intolerance and hate in this country and on the Internet, and the coverage of each of these murderous episodes, are enough in themselves to incite violence in those who are already inclined to be violent.
Is it terrorism, with a connotation of religious fanaticism, or is it just a violent person using the nearest excuse he can find to act out his violent delusions and, in this case, homophobia?
There is a difference between the two. The first begs fear of the “other,” the second begs less hate speech, better funding for mental health care and a common-sense approach to controlling access to guns.
There are at least two obvious things that we should do: Make sure that state laws agree that anyone who has ever been on an FBI watch list be forever banned from the legal purchase of a gun, and that approval for a gun purchase be predicated on passing an FBI background check, no matter how long it takes (see Dylann Roof).
We can individually be encouraged to speak out against hate speech and religious intolerance and for freedom from religion. Hate breeds hate, but unspeakable violence is not necessarily terrorism.
Richard L. Beck
E. Ashley Avenue