Bad Responses to Terrible Things

[Content Note: Description of violence; misogyny; death; guns; disablism; Islamophobia.]

Last Friday, a 30-year-old man named Alton Nolen, who had recently been fired from a food processing plant in Oklahoma City, returned to the plant and used a knife to attack two female employees. He beheaded 54-year-old Colleen Hufford and repeatedly stabbed 43-year-old Traci Johnson, who survived, before he was shot twice by Vaughan Foods Chief Operating Officer Mark Vaughan. Nolen was injured and is now in the hospital, where he will reportedly be charged today with first-degree murder and assault and battery with a deadly weapon.

Nolen was a recent convert to Islam; he had started using the name Jah'Keem Yisrael on Facebook, where he had posted some political stuff but gave no indication he was planning this sort of attack. There are rumors he was fired after a heated discussion at work about women being stoned, but I can't find solid verification of that, and it may be just a rumor.

The only reason I mention it at all is because I have read several news reports saying Nolen chose his victims "at random," and I'm not so sure that's the case. Except insomuch as it's always "random" when a man kills only women, lest we have to talk about the harm that men do specifically to women.

That is but one bad response to this event—to disappear the fact that Nolen targeted women for a reason.

There are other bad responses. Like the usual "he was crazy," and the entirely predictable Islamophobia that has the usual suspects going apeshit about how this behavior is typical of Muslims or evidence of the increasing radicalization of the US Muslim community, despite immediate and unequivocal condemnations and the fact that US Muslims are now probably less safe because of this guy's actions and none of the rest of us are.

And then there is this, in the Christian Science Monitor: "Oklahoma City beheading: Will jihad-style attack boost 'bring gun to work' laws?"

This is an entire article about how Nolen was stopped because Mark Vaughn had a gun at work, which is legal in the state of Oklahoma, which treats as an aside the fact that Vaughn is a reserve sheriff's deputy, not just any old bloke with a gun.

This is the final paragraph:
Police also confirmed that Vaughan was acting as an individual and not on behalf of the local sheriff's department when he fired his weapon. But the fact that Vaughan is a trained police officer may at least in part undercut the argument by gun proponents that everybody should have the right to bring their gun to work.
Ya think? Well, good thing we managed to squeeze in that point at the tail end of the story.

A story which is manifestly absurd on its face. Because it's not this single, extraordinary, horrific "jihad-style attack" that stands to "boost 'bring gun to work' laws" in the US, but people pretending that this single, extraordinary, horrific attack is part of some pattern of similar violence, when it is demonstrably not, because fearmongering is most effective tool in expanding carry laws.

But the truth is that expanding carry laws to allow more guns in the workplace will only mean that more people who intend to use guns to harm their coworkers are able to carry those guns into work legally.

I am angry that the media continues to indulge the absurdly dishonest narrative that more guns will ever mean more heroes, instead of more victims.

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