I’ve been hearing more and more people suggest not talking about mass murderers so they don’t get the attention they crave. So they don’t “win”. It is always said as a solution to the fact that they happen. “The media attention is why they exist” and “Let’s not say their name so they can’t get famous because that’s what they really want” and “If we ignore them then they lose”
Mass murders have been happening long before we had the ability to flood the public with 24 hour news coverage. Mass murderers don’t kill to get famous. They kill to be heard by people who have been ignoring them or slighting them. They kill because they are angry and disenfranchised in one way or another and they want to hurt as many people as they can to send the message that they matter, that people who mess with them will be sorry. Media coverage may be like their megaphone but they would still kill if the media machine came to a grinding halt because in the communities where they commit their crimes their killing spree will still hurt a ton of people and that’s what they want.
I keep hearing people suggest that if we ignore people like Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh that they’ll have no power. That it’s us listening to them and talking about them that gives them power.
Their power lies in the fact that there are tons of people who agree with the racist evil messages they shout out in their shows and if all of us non-bigots ignore them then they will still exist and still be empowered and if we put our heads in the sand and pretend they aren’t there they are more empowered and their influence can grow and their opinions can shape law and cement systemic racism, sexism, homophobia, and religious intolerance into our collective consciousness as ignoring it HAS ALREADY DONE.
Evil of all kinds, both small and large, thrive on your silence.
Hitler thrived on Europeans turning their eyes away from his systematic abuse and incarceration of Jews which was happening long before he invaded his neighbors. It wasn’t until he started invading other countries that people started paying attention. Millions of Jews were forcibly removed from their homes while neighbors watched, too afraid to do anything, and not saying anything.
Evil thrives on people not talking about the bad shit it’s getting up to, it thrives on us turning away in fear or in a mistaken noble idea that if we ignore it it will cease to exist because we are good and if we only give energy to good things and good people then the world will cover itself in butterflies and, being bored and ignored, evil will dissipate into powerless nontoxic vapors.
Evil has never gone away because we didn’t talk about it or say its name or because we turned away from it and took its spotlight away. Evil thrives on fear and silence and inaction.
Abuse thrives on fear and silence and inaction.
If you suspect a person is being abused do you turn your head away from their abuser and not talk about it? Do you purposely not say their abuser’s name in hopes that the abuser will somehow get the message that abuse is bad and you won’t tolerate it?
YOUR SILENCE IS TOLERANCE OF ABUSE.
Maybe you’re saying to yourself now that I’m being ridiculous. Obviously if you knew a person was being abused you wouldn’t be so stupid and not talk about it because you’re a good human and I’m a bitch to even suggest you would turn away from an abuser and expect them to stop abusing because they’re really only abusing people for the attention.
When public figures say racist bigoted shit and people don’t express outrage and everyone simply ignores them they do not go away – instead the ideals they espouse are being tolerated and accepted and this silence further embeds bigotry in our communities. They don’t stop being bigots because we ignore them. And most likely they go out in the world and treat people like shit and if you saw them in action – would you still be silent?
If you’re standing in line and you hear a white checker say something demeaning to a black customer that is clearly racist – do you keep quiet and mind your own business?
If you know that a teacher has raped a student and the student won’t say anything but you could – do you turn away hoping that the student will report the teacher or that the teacher will stop being evil and abusive?
If you witness someone being called a “faggot” do you just hold your tongue and hope that the homophobe will understand that you’re taking their power away from them?
If you know someone is desperately depressed and at risk of committing suicide do you advise them to get more exercise and fresh air and eat some kale instead of talking to them and listening to them?
If you know someone who is constantly being badgered and abused and instead of turning their awful feelings on themselves they begin to grow bitter and angry do you tell them that they’re a fucking mess and it’s their own fault and then ignore them like everyone else? Is that what you do?
Because all the evil in the world begins with someone’s feelings. Maybe they have mental illness or maybe they don’t but bad feelings fester and either they take it out on themselves and hurt themselves and take drugs and maybe overdose OR they fantasize about taking it out on others. Hitler was an angry little man before he rose to power and took out his feelings on 6 million people.
Silence and fear and inaction are what evil thrives on.
Silence and fear allow evil to grow and evolve and plan and then abuse and sometimes kill.
Mental illness used to be a much bigger taboo until people insisted on talking about it and talking some more about it and studying it and then people with mental illness came out of the dark and insisted on being heard and every single time we make people listen to us more light is shed on our dark hell. Silence kills people with mental illness. Talking and listening save lives.
Racism is so systemic in our country and it isn’t just about little racist slurs – those slurs are just the tip of the deeper darker aspects of racism that have reached the surface of our communities. When we ignore people who make those comments we are empowering them and the discrimination of others that we aren’t seeing that they are absolutely taking part in. When we let people call Arab people “ragheads” and we don’t say anything we are absolutely complicit in racism. Maybe saying something doesn’t change much but it is non-acceptance and it is shedding light on a foul darkness that we need to cut away from our communities. Not listening to racists spouting their toxic opinions and pretending they don’t exist doesn’t make them not exist, it allows them to continue being racist without answering to anyone. When we don’t call people on their racism we are letting it thrive and grow.
Misogyny is rampant in this country (er – the entire world, actually) and not fighting it, not calling it out when we experience it and letting the little insults go because they aren’t “worth our notice” or because “that won’t change anything” is allowing its power to grow and become stronger and it poisons our blood and our children see us not saying anything and not talking about it and they learn that this is how it is and that it’s OKAY to say bad shit about women as a whole gender and when we stifle our outrage at rapists getting away with shit because it just “gives them attention” then we are also saying it’s OKAY with us that this stuff happens.
Our voices are the first and strongest weapon we all have in combating evil in the world. USING our voices is the most important act of power we have. Just ask anyone whose voice has been snuffed out. Just ask anyone who doesn’t have one or can’t use it because someone has threatened them and the ones they love if they use it and so they live in fearful silence.
TALK ABOUT EVIL AND ABUSE AND DISENFRANCHISEMENT AND TABOOS. YELL AT ANN COULTER FOR HER NASTY BIGOTRY. Yeah, she’ll still be a bigot because that chick is pretty far gone. KEEP A CLOSE WATCH ON PEOPLE WHO SPOUT BIGOTED SHIT BECAUSE THAT TALK CAN TURN TO ACTION AND IF YOU AREN’T WATCHING THEM AND YOU AREN’T LISTENING AND YOU AREN’T TELLING THEM THEIR VIEWS AREN’T OKAY THEN YOU ARE LETTING THEM THRIVE.
TALK. Always shout out when you see wrong doing. Always report abuse when you see it. Put your fucking neck out there and shout the house down to be heard. Maybe sometimes you’ll be wrong. Maybe you aren’t saving the world.
But you are shedding light into shadows every time you say evil’s name and call it out.
Talking about the darkness and the abuses and the things we’re most afraid of is empowering. And sometimes it saves lives.
What has kept me from actually killing myself were people reaching out and listening and also telling me their own darkness so I don’t feel so alone with mine. What has kept my painful past from engulfing me has been to talk about it.
So when you suggest I/we stop talking about mass murderers and bigots and evil politicians I want you to understand what you’re really doing. I want you to understand your complicity with the darkness.
I want you to understand that I don’t give a shit how uncomfortable or tedious it is for you to talk about bad people and bad things and sad things and sad people – or to hear me do it. If you want to choose silence and if you have convinced yourself that if you don’t give evil your attention it will cease to exist – then I will shout even louder to make up for your silence.
Silence and fear and inaction kills people.
Use your fucking voice. And then back your voice up with action whenever you have that opportunity. Say no to racists when you see them discriminating your fellow human beings.
The reason most mass murderers commit mass murders is because at some point they felt they weren’t being heard or respected or that they have been shunned from society. People not recognizing that they were struggling before those struggles became poisonous is why they end up doing it. It isn’t for the sake of fame. They use what tools they can to be heard. Maybe they were mentally ill and didn’t have the help they needed. Or maybe they refused to get the help and no one intervened more seriously. Or maybe they were abused and no one helped them and they felt powerless and so they kill people they think should have noticed they were desperate for help. People not talking and not paying attention and not taking action until much too late is why those killings happen.
So if you want to be part of what created the toxic situation in the first place with your silence and your head in the sand – I’m probably going to stick a huge speaker in your sandcastle of silence and I’m going to blast it to hell with the voices of everyone who’s been abused and killed because people kept the code of silence all abusers and killers rely on to keep doing what they do.
So fuck silence.
I have a voice and it’s not just for saying pretty little things.
It’s for blasting light into the dark.
It’s the hand I reach out to strangers so they know they aren’t suffering alone and they aren’t invisible.
It’s for bringing motherfucking evil to the ground.
Silence is the seal of darkness.