Why Isn't Anyone Listening to the Atlanta Murderer?
Robert Aaron Long is telling us why he killed, and no one seems to be listening.
On Tuesday, March 16, Robert Aaron Long attacked women at three spa/massage parlors in Atlanta, Georgia, killing eight people. Six of those killed were Asian women. This sparked outrage, fear and controversy, especially in the Asian-American community. It has come at a time when violence and harassment towards Asian in the US appears to be quite high. And therefore, this is being addressed as an anti-Asian hate crime by seemingly everyone.
Although the full motive is not known as I write this, and investigations continue, based on what the killer has said, we can come to a few conclusions. First off, he is a sex addict. Or, at least he claims to be. It has become clear that he frequented two of the establishments. He said that he went on his rampage to remove the temptation posed by these places and the sex workers within because he couldn't kick his habit. He is a conservative Christian which seems to have played a role in the guilt he felt over his sexual desires. A former roommate said that the killer had said that with his addiction he was "falling out of God's grace."
According to a CNN report:
Long told police the shootings were "not racially motivated," according to Baker, of the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office. Baker also referenced Long's "sex addiction," saying that Long sees the spas as a "temptation" that he "wanted to eliminate."
According to two law enforcement sources involved in the investigation, Long attempted to justify his actions when he told police he thought about killing himself, but decided instead to "help" others with sexual addictions by targeting spas
Now, race MAY turn out to be a factor, although as I write this, it doesn't seem to be the main motivator. But, that hasn't stopped people from creating a narrative that anti-Asian hate was behind this, and that the killer is a racist, white supremacist with many online saying that this is influenced directly by Donald Trump's rhetoric.
So, why? Why are people not actually listening to those who are telling us why he might have did it and are instead making up their own narrative? Who does this help?
If the target was sex workers because of their profession, this is important and needs to be addressed. We need to talk about violence towards sex workers and what can be done to make sex work safer. But, this discussion is not happening as it should be. The discussion is entirely focused on hate crime against Asians as a whole, despite the fact that, so far, it doesn't sound like the killer was out specifically to kill Asians. His main motive appears to be the fact that these were women in the sex industry.
The religious component can't be ignored here as either. The fact that he appears to have felt so much guilt about his sexual desires and addiction is deeply rooted in his conservative Christian reality. So, in order to fight the temptation of women, he chose to kill them. This is the exact same philosophy we see in, say, ultra-conservative interpretations of Islam, when women are told to cover up from head to toe to avoid tempting men, and sometimes face harassment and death if they don't comply.
Right now, we are a race obsessed society. Western liberal democracies, especially the US, are going through a period where pretty much everything is seen through the lens of racism. It is an almost single-minded obsession. That isn't to say racism isn't a problem. That isn't to undermine those who want to discuss very real problems with racism. But, what it does do is push other issues to the wayside. In this case, one important issue is violence against sex workers. It seems to be talked about so little, while the focus is almost entirely on race. This is despite the fact that, at the moment, the motive does not appear to be about race.
Trevor Noah on the Daily Show went on a four and a half minute rant about the shootings, focusing almost solely on race and not ONCE did he mention the fact that the victims were sex workers. Not ONCE did he mention the religious component. It was pretty much all, wall-to-wall, about race. He talked briefly about what a cop during a press conference said. He skimmed over what the killer said about why he did this. The main focus, for him, despite anything, is race.
So, who loses out in this? Sex workers. This is golden opportunity to highlight the problem of violence against vulnerable sex workers. And people are missing it. Why? Because they won't listen to the killer. They refuse to believe that this isn't primarily because of race. They stubbornly create a narrative that they want to stick to and won't accept anything else, even in the face of evidence.
And we lose out on an another golden opportunity to talk about male sexuality, guilt, stigma and religious sexual repression. Noah wants us to talk about why these shooting happen. Okay, let's talk. We are dealing with a man who had a sex addiction. He had extreme guilt as the result of his religious beliefs. He shot sex workers in establishments he has frequented. He killed them to stop them from tempting him and others like him. This is practically out of an ISIS handbook! When women tempt, they must pay the price. The temptation for what is perceived as an awful sin in the eyes of God had to be stamped out. Women who provide sex for money had to die.
If we truly want to understand why these things happen, then we have to actually listen to the people who are doing the crimes and outright telling us why they did it. If we want to prevent these murders, then we have to understand the thinking behind them. So, why aren't people doing that?? Why are people who say that we must understand the underlying reasons for the murders completely ignoring the underlying reasons for the murders?? Why will they ONLY look at this crime in relation to race and are so quick to ignore what the killer and the evidence is saying??