Orlando: No ifs, no buts…

no ifs-1Following on from my post yesterday, I will be featuring an image from my London Pride archive every day this week, in response to the mass murder of innocent people at a gay club in Orlando.

I chose today’s image and title – No ifs, no buts – to counteract some of the stories already appearing in the media about the motivation of the killer.

The killer’s father said that his son got angry when he saw two men kissing in Miami a couple of months ago and thinks that may be related to the shooting. This is being widely reported in the media.

My concern with this is that blame is being transferred to the gay community, even before the bodies of the victims have been removed from the scene. That somehow, gay people – by going about their normal lives, by being in love – have brought this horrific situation upon themselves.

However, this approach is not just confined to this incident. It happened with the Charlie Hebdo massacre of 11 staff at the satirical French magazine. A surprisingly large number of commentators – both in traditional and social media – said: “There’s never any excuse to kill people, but the cartoon was very offensive”. Even the Pope appeared to provide a ‘get out of jail’ card for that particular atrocity.

Maybe these excuses arise purely from people trying to make sense of the senseless. Looking for reason, where there is none. I find it hard to believe that any right-thinking person would seriously believe that being offended permits someone to carry out a massacre.

However, when we put a ‘but…’ or an ‘if….’ into these situations, that is precisely what we are in danger of doing.

So, please…. no ifs, no buts. Let’s not seek to blame the victims of such crimes, nor the communities they belong to. To do so sets a very dangerous precedent. Because – who knows – in the future, maybe you’ll be the one causing offence.