Creep of the Week

Matt Barber

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Another week, another mass shooting at a school in which so many people claim to be the greatest country on earth. Spoiler alert: when your gun obsession makes children being gunned down in school a regular occurrence, you’re not the greatest country on earth.

One of the kids murdered in Texas was an exchange student from Pakistan. She was to return home in June. I can’t help but wonder how many American parents would refuse to send their kids to Pakistan.

“Look what happened to that Malala,” they’d say. “It’s too dangerous.”

Sure an argument may be made that the Taliban shot Malala Yousafzai and that’s different from what’s happening in America.

But is it, though? How are the gun lobbyists and the predominantly straight white males who abide gun violence not terrorist threats in the U.S.? And in this current political climate that gives racists, misogynists, homophobes, and gun fetishists the green light to operate with impunity, the threat of violence has only intensified.

Right now #IfIDieInASchoolShooting is trending on Twitter. Read what young people are saying. It’s astonishing that our kids are begging lawmakers for their lives. In America. In 2018.

I’m beyond tired of the excuses.

“It’s not the guns, it’s not the guns, it’s not the guns,” we hear ad nauseam. We have more guns than we have people — it’s definitely the guns.

“But what about mental illness? Surely mental illness is the reason why these insane people go on shooting sprees. We need to talk about mental illness, not guns,” they say.

The vast majority of people with mental illness never hurt anybody because they aren’t violent. And if they are prone to violence, people with mental illness are far more likely to hurt themselves. I’d also say its utter bullshit to pretend to care about mental illness but not to propose funding for mental health professionals in public schools. For trying to tear apart the ACA, which is the only way some people have access to mental health care. And also for not adequately staffing agencies that are supposed to help children and families by connecting them with social workers and other professionals who are under-compensated to boot. For not seriously questioning how this country rewards on men who are cruel and abusive.

And so I have no patience with so-called religious conservatives wringing their hands over bans on “conversion” therapy. If only they’d show as much concern about making dead kids undead as they do about making gay kids ungay. Yes, mental health care is essential. But conversion therapy is mental abuse, not care.

It’s astounding to me that people like Matt Barber call themselves Christians while preaching not only intolerance, but hate, and then turning around and claiming that anyone who disagrees with them wants to ban Christianity.

During a recent conversation with Gordon James Klingenschmitt, Barber gave props to Luis Ruiz, a Pulse Nightclub shooting survivor who has declared himself ex-gay.

“I love this story,” said Barber, “because it’s a story of redemption and freedom from demonic oppression and persecution and a sin lifestyle that I believe frankly is spiritual in nature.”

Note what he loves isn’t that Ruiz survived one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history. He loves that Ruiz fits his anti-gay narrative.

Klingenschmitt and Barber lamented the fact that if conversion therapy is banned, then Ruiz might be arrested for talking about his ex-gay experience. It is not true.

I don’t know Ruiz. I don’t care how he identifies. I’m not the boss of him. But it’s pretty striking that folks like Barber see the problem with the Pulse massacre as the guy dancing with another guy, not the guy with a gun.

D’Anne Witkowski is a poet, writer and comedian living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBT politics for over a decade. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.

DAnne Witkowski

D'Anne Witkowski is a poet, writer and comedian living with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBT politics for over a decade. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.

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