Don't Straight-splain This Attack to Us

StraightSplaining on Sky News

Let the straight-splaining of this massacre begin. 

“You don’t understand this, because you’re not gay,” a frustrated British journalist blurted out during a panel on Sky News, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch, the same man who owns Fox News in the United States.

Owen Jones, a columnist for The Guardian, ended up walking off the set, so frustrated by the anchor refusing to call what happened in Orlando an anti-LGBT attack.

“It is one of the worst atrocities committed against LGBT people in the Western world for generations,” insisted Jones, before being interrupted by Mark Longhurst.

“It’s something that’s carried out against human beings,” Longhurst corrected him. 

Jones kept insisting, though, that it’s not OK to gloss over the identify of the people who were in the crosshairs.

“This has to be called out for what it is,” he said. “It was an intentional attack on LGBT people—“

“—on the freedom of all people to try and enjoy themselves,” the anchor corrected him again.

Jones was visibly taken off guard that anyone would try to deny that gunning down scores of people at a gay club is an anti-LGBT attack, even if it’s also a terrorist attack. Jones pointed out that it’s quite possibly both.

But the straight people weren’t having it. They’re concerned with ISIS and FBI investigations and who the killer spoke with who might have also had terrorist sympathies. And as this story drifts more into the media’s familiar territory, cisgender and straight faces could start to dominate reaction — if they haven’t already on the channel you’re watching.

That was what finally drove Jones to storm off, when the anchor and guest finally paused to consider what an LGBT activist had to say about what had happened. He pointed out the tremendous lack of LGBT voices on Sky News, or anywhere.

Jones used his Guardian column afterward to say for the record what he never got to express on Sky News the night before.

“This isn’t about LGBT people taking ownership of the pain and anguish,” he wrote. “People of all sexual orientations have wept over this massacre, and all communities should unite in grief. It is highly likely that straight people died in the atrocity.”

He added, “Omar Mateen could have chosen many clubs, full of people laughing and living, but he chose a LGBT venue. This was homophobia as well as terrorism. It is not enough to simply condemn violence: we have to understand what it is and why it happened.”

Today in Washington, FBI director James Comey gave a status report on the investigation. “So far we see no indication that this was a plot directed from outside the United States,” he said, “and we see no indication that he was part of any kind of network.”

For his part, President Obama promised Sunday to follow this investigation wherever the facts take us. 

The question from Jones, though, is whether some in the media would be following the story if they couldn’t call it terrorism. 

“Today, the ‘we only care about LGBT rights if Muslims are involved’ brigade are out in force,” he wrote.

Watch the interview below:

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