There was a mass murder.
I know, this is America, so I have to be more specific. And since the one I’m thinking of, at Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado, we’ve had several more—mass shooting events are so common in America you may have missed the others. On November 23rd, the Gun Violence Archive had counted 606 this year alone. In one of them, the mass shooting at Club Q, on Saturday night, November 19th, five people were killed. Nineteen were injured. They leave behind loved ones and friends and acquaintances and a nation that mourns a targeted anti-LGBTQIA+ shooting on the weekend of Transgender Day of Remembrance.
And the horrible truth is we all saw this coming, waited in horror for it to happen, and now we are here. As someone wrote on Focus on the Family’s sign in Colorado Springs, “Their blood is on your hands. Five lives taken.” Below it they left 2 Corinthians 11:14-15:
“And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”
Plenty of people see this and agree and know the set of ideologies and actors pushing this kind of hate. But for all the people mourning, for all of us heartened by the heroism of Richard Fierro, for all of the people in this country who are angry and outraged by this vile attack, the people who pushed it? They’re salivating at the opportunity, at the violence, at the chance to make it happen again.
There are lots of vessels for this call for violence—pushers of stochastic terrorism, a term that usefully helps us put away the concept of the “lone wolf,” which implies that these are individuals with individual grievances not that they’re part of a broader structure. As Bryn Nelson explains, pushing a rhetoric that dehumanizes and vilifies a group, weaponizing disgust to motivate the targeting of specific people, leads to an increase in ideologically-motivated acts of violence: a.k.a. stochastic terrorism. And while it seemed like the level of anti-LGBTQIA+ rhetoric couldn’t get any worse, influential social media purveyors have only doubled down since the shooting.
Libs of Tik Tok, Chaya Raichik’s account that repeatedly pushed anti-LGBTQIA+ violence (and whose targeted anti-trans rhetoric led to multiple bomb threats against the Boston Children’s Hospital), ignored the Club Q attack. The next day, however, she virtually put a target on a drag show education organization and the Colorado State Representatives who’ve appeared at their events—whom she called out by name. She followed it up with posts attacking gender affirming care facilities, drag shows, and an individual’s TikTok profile, writing, “This person doesn’t identify as a human but as an inanimate object so ‘it’ uses it/it’s pronouns.” The dehumanizing rhetoric is very, very clear.