Conservatives Would Hate If Atlanta Shooter’s Hate Crime Was Considered Hate Crime
Last week, Robert Aaron Long allegedly murdered eight people in Atlanta, including six women of Asian descent. There's been debate as to whether Long's actions were racially motivated or if it was just a coincidence that 75 percent of his victims were members of an ethnic group representing three percent of Georgia's population.
Last June, Georgia finally passed hate crimes legislation following the outcry over the racially motivated killing of Ahmaud Arbery. The law imposes additional criminal sentencing guidelines on someone who commits a crime intentionally based upon "race, sex, sexual orientation, color, religion, national origin, mental disability, or physical disability." Defense attorneys will likely (and rightly) lean into "intentionally." This is why you shouldn't take a murder suspect's word for it when they claim their killing spree wasn't a hate crime. It's obviously in their best interest to avoid additional jail time.
Long claims he has a “sex addiction," which Captain Jay Baker at the Cherokee County Sheriff's department stated uncritically during a press conference. We understand Long's desperate and pathetic attempt to avoid accountability, but prominent conservatives are also arguing this isn't a hate crime or, rather, we can't know for sure, and it's irresponsible to speculate unless we find Long's manifesto My Mass Shooting Is A Hate Crime on Amazon.
Andrew Sullivan tweeted this weekend, “If and when the NYT's and WaPo's hate-crime narrative about the Atlanta bombings collapses as a trial is held, do you think they will acknowledge it? Me neither." Of course, it was a series of shootings, not a bombing, which shows you how much attention Sullivan is really paying here.
Sullivan implies the media crafted a "hate-crime narrative" around the murders of six people of Asian descent. If Asian Americans are terrified because of the recent surge in hate crimes against Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, he's pretty sure it's the media's fault for making race an issue.
Tucker Carlson, obviously, wrote an op-ed claiming the media was ignoring the true facts of the case so they could promote their political agenda.
Robert Long seems deranged, but his obsessive and violent behavior seems sadly familiar if you follow the news closely. An increasing number of Americans struggle with mental illness. It would be worth knowing much more about Robert Long's life, if only to try to prevent the next mass shooting.
Evidence has not been presented that Long is mentally ill, and it's infuriating how conservatives keep pinning the blame for mass shootings on people who live with mental illness, most of whom aren't violent killers.
Georgia can prevent mass shootings with sensible gun laws, which the state lacks. Long bought the gun he never should've had on the same day he allegedly killed people. Meanwhile, as Senator Raphael Warnock pointed out, the Georgia legislature would rather prevent people from voting the same day they register.
Back to Carlson:
Then there's the very real question of sex addiction, which we should not laugh off. Why is there so much prostitution in Atlanta?
Bet Carlson has some racist theories for the apparent prevalence of prostitution in Atlanta. It serves white supremacist narratives if cities with significant minority populations are moral cesspools straight from Dirty Harry or Taxi Driver.
We also don't know that Long is a “sex addict" rather than someone who paid for sex and felt guilty about it. Accused murderers aren't the most reliable sources for their motivations. It's been written that Long couldn't reconcile his sexual appetites with his religious background, but that doesn't eliminate white supremacy and misogyny as motivating factors. Spoiler alert, but women's sexuality leading “good" men to destruction is the twist ending of most Bible stories.
In 2013, Andrew Sullivan drew a straight line from the Boston marathon bombers' religious extremism to their act of terrorism.
Andrew Sullivan, 2013: Pointing out a possible broader sociological motivation for a crime is crucial because War o… https://t.co/smoHUmA8iF— Jonathan Myerson Katz (@Jonathan Myerson Katz)1616275258.0
Targeting people because of their sex also counts as a hate crime, but conservatives seem especially motivated to downplay growing anti-Asian sentiment. Perhaps it's because they enabled or participated in scapegoating Asians for the pandemic Americans failed to contain.
Sullivan, Carlson, and the other usual suspects will ignore the obvious and focus instead on the growing threat of “cancel culture." Meanwhile, Asian Americans are literally being cancelled.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).