Can You Just Not Kill People?

Reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were murdered Wednesday during an on-air interview. (Courtesy WDBJ)

I’m not even being flip here. I’m serious. To all the Vester Lee Flanagan II/Bryce Williams and Dylan Roofs’ of the world, please confine your craziness to your specific situation. Do not kill people and suggest for even a moment that your deplorable actions are legit because of some past injustice to which you claim ownership.

No one can even mourn Alison Parker and Adam Ward — the WDBJ reporter and cameraman Flanagan murdered Wednesday — effectively because their deaths have degenerated into a multiheaded attack between conservatives and liberals, whites and blacks over racism and LGBT rights.

I didn’t even know who Dinesh D’Souza was until a co-worker sent me this Salon piece where he mocks Parker and Wards deaths with tweets like: “When a black gay guy goes nuts and kills white people, is it safe to call it a DOUBLE hate crime? #VirginiaShooting.” Sooo classy, and point so not well made since I can’t find a point behind his utter insensitivity.

And the #TakeItDown hashtag? Come on. Two people lost their lives to a disgruntled former work colleague who happened to be gay and black, and you belittle their deaths to make a racist, homophobic, unutterably lame point about a frickin’ flag? Sigh.

If there was any doubt at all that racism and homophobia are still a problem in this country, I think it’s pretty much gone now. We need diversity executives more than ever right now, and they have no choice but to inculcate the seemingly endless stream of news items out there into their daily work.

I’m lucky. I work in a fairly open-minded environment. We deliberately absorb and dissect the news and many different ideas, and hold on to some sense of objectivity and fairness as we interview sources and put together content that will appeal to our readers.

But people who work in corporate, more conservative offices and work cultures? I can’t imagine the hurt feelings and insulted hearts that result from water cooler conversations and chit chat in the halls outside cubicles and offices. People are going to talk about what they see in the news in the context of their lives and personal opinions. I’d wager those lives and opinions are as diverse as the people who share them.

The idea that Flanagan has anything to do with the Black Lives Matter movement or should be associated with LGBT issues is short sighted and simple-minded — a tactic used by people who don’t have legitimate ammunition to fight the world changes they’re quietly scared of. That man was mentally disturbed, but it wouldn’t be fair to condemn all people with mental illness because of his actions, would it? So why drag black and gay people through the mud just because he fell — loosely — into those categories?

Flanagan was not a polarizing figure. By all accounts he was a bitter, crazy person who liked gay porn and threw the word racism around like confetti to hide the fact that he was unbalanced. Are we so afraid of change, of controversial dialogue, of demands from women and minorities for privileges afforded by the Constitution and the sentiments upon which this country was built, that we feel comfortable desecrating the memory of two innocent lives?

Alison Parker and Adam Ward were murdered. Their lives were cut short by a mad man. They deserve to be mourned fairly, not to be inserted into quasi-political foolishness and rants from racists and homophobes.

And if there are any other soft-in-the-head, potential workplace shooters out there looking for attention? Please don’t hang your shingle on any cause unless it’s advocacy for gun violence legislation, advanced level workplace protections or a call for more mental health resources. #BlackLivesMatter doesn’t need that kind of “help,” and the LGBT community certainly doesn’t either.