The Orlando shooting is a national tragedy. In its wake it has raised issues of civil rights, national security, gun control, and anti-LGBT sentiment, among others. Like with many previous shootings, what is particularly puzzling is what motivated the shooter to take these extreme actions. Numerous articles attribute Marteen’s actions to his views on the LGBT population or his religion, but as others have said, many people hold the same views and never carry out such acts.
While no one has given a simple heuristic that fully explains Marteen’s violence, what every analysis has in common is the belief that understanding Marteen’s identity is central to grasping why he did what he did. To what extent were Marteen’s actions the result his individual personality traits vs. the social environment he encountered? Similarly, how are our reactions to the Orlando shooting influenced by our own identities? And most importantly, how can we engage the processes that produce identity to prevent (or at least reduce) such shootings from occurring in the future? Here are some philosophical papers that may help us answer these questions:
- Elizabeth Hirschman. “Social contract theory and the semiotics of guns in America.” Social Semiotics, October 2014. This article describes how certain myths about American identity pull from social contract theory to justify individual possession of firearms.
- Mark Joslyn. “The Politics of Causes: Mass Shootings and the Cases of the Virginia Tech and Tucson Tragedies The Politics of Causes: Mass Shootings and the Cases of the Virginia Tech and Tucson Tragedies.” Social Science Quarterly, June 2013. Joslyn examines how identities like ‘Republican’ and ‘Democrat’ affect how one interprets mass shootings.
- Donna Landry, “Queer Islam and the New Historicism.” Cultural Studies, March 2011. Using Judith Butler’s concept of performativity, the author examines how the identities of Muslim and Queer overlap (a topic of particular relevance given Marteen’s alleged presence in gay nightclubs and devotion to Islam).
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