The reason the world showed limited empathy to the Orlando victims

Exclusively written for the Sting by one of our passionate readers Mr Luca Arfini. The opinions expressed within reflect only the write’s views and not The European Sting’s position on the issue.

On the 12th of June this year Omar Mateen committed a terrible massacre against the LGBT community. He entered in the Pulse, one of the most famous gay clubs in Orlando, in Florida, and he started shooting against the crowd, killing 49 people and injuring another 53. This attack has awaken the fear among the LGBT community, who was preparing to celebrate the pride month with parades and the anniversary of the same-sex marriage legalization in the US.

This was a hate attack against a minority, showing that, even if some progress has been made, there is still a lot of work that must be done to create the right feeling of acceptance among the society. All the LGBT community expresses solidarity to the victims of Orlando in social media, but some people claimed that this attack has not emotionally involved the web community as much as the terrorist attacks in Paris or the more recent ones in Belgium.  Was the society less shocked for the Orlando massacre only because it hasn’t shared its solidarity as much as for the recent terrorist attacks?

After the Paris and the Belgium terrorist attacks we have seen all people in social media changing their profile picture with the filters of the French or the Belgian flag, writing “Je suis Charlie”on their profiles and all the social networks showed a great sense of solidarity. Some people claimed that in Orlando, nobody wrote in their profiles something similar “Je suis gay”, because they were not too touched by the fact. Maybe this could be true, but recently after the terrorist attack on the Instabul airport, I have seen very few people remembering those victims.  Apparently, it seems like there is a scale of importance in how people classified those events, but it is all a matter of distance.

We all posted “pray for Paris”, because it happened inside the European Union in one of the most well known capital cities, so we all felt as personally involved in the attack, we all mostly have some friends or relatives or friends of a friend in France, and we felt that if it happened there, it could also happen in any other country of the European Union.

People did not feel the same for Orlando because they have seen it as an attack against a minority, something that is distant from their lives, not less horrible than the other terrorist attack, but less emotionally involving because it was far from their private sphere. Most of the people remained in silence, not for a question of dislike against the gay community, but because they do not feel part of that community, so they perceive the event with less shock and sadness than a gay person.

George Simmel described at the end of the 19th century the individual of the modern metropolis as cold, rational, detached and indifferent. An individual that is able to take distance from the high variety of events and inducements present in a modern metropolis. This is an important aspect of the modern individual, because the capacity of taking distance from things helps us to rationally defend from the others, to learn how to not be personally involved in everything.  Without this shield we will suffer in the same way every day for the death of a child in Africa, for the wars that there are in the other part of the world, for the murder of a person not close to us, and this would be too much to stand.

The same logic can be applied at what happened in Orlando, people are rational actors, so they react rationally to what happens in the world and with a different emotional intensity in relation to the closeness of what has just happened. We cannot expect them to spend the same amount of feelings for everything, because it will be impossible.

In conclusion, I believe it is wrong asking whether people have been shocked by what happened in Orlando, because nobody can be happy about a massacre, even the people that do not support the LGBT community.

The fact that they did not show as much involvement as to what happened in Paris or in Belgium is mainly related to the fact that this has touched a minority from which the great majority of the people feel distant. This it is not related to homophobia though.

All in all, I would mainly wonder, instead, about the easiness of how Omar Mateen was able to buy an arm despite the fact he had been interrogated by the FBI due to his contacts with ISIS.

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