Brock President, experts offer reaction to Orlando tragedy

The massacre of 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando early Sunday morning was an unthinkable tragedy that serves as a chilling reminder that homophobia still exists, says a Brock University professor

Julian Kitchen, an associate professor in the Department of Teacher Education, says the killings prove there’s still a long way to go when it comes to equality.

“This reminds us that the fight for rights and for acceptance isn’t over,” says Kitchen. “As a gay man, this creates feelings of vulnerability.”

“It used to be an act of courage to go to or march in a (gay pride) parade. More recently it has become more of a celebration. I think this will add a certain amount of gravity to the celebrations this month.”

As a Faculty of Education professor, Kitchen instructs future teachers on how to handle diversity issues in the classroom.

“The best way to prevent big things like this is to address the little things,” he says, pointing to bullying issues like name-calling or shoving as things that lead to bigger problems.

Another Brock associate professor, Angela Book, from the Department of Psychology, researches topics such as psychopathy and victim selection.

She says the terrorist responsible for the attack in Orlando is a textbook narcissist.

“The narcissism makes them think that they deserve to do this,” she says. “If they’re disenfranchised, one way they think they can get famous is by doing something like this.”

Book is concerned that media coverage focusing on the shooter or highlighting that it was the deadliest attack ever will make others think they should do something similar — trying to beat the record in some sort of sick, psychotic contest.

“It’s upsetting that they give so much attention to it and the person. They’re using headlines that only encourage copycats,” she said. “It’s definitely a danger.”

Brock University President Jack Lightstone also issued a statement Monday morning cautioning against reprisals for the “reprehensible” massacre.

“Over the weekend at a gay club in Orlando, Florida, 49 persons were shot to death and about 50 others were wounded when a gunman, self-proclaiming allegiance to the ‘Islamic State’ (IS), opened fire with an automatic assault weapon.
“In the past it has been my practice to issue statements when shooting incidents have occurred in educational settings, on the campuses of sister institutions, however I feel compelled to also speak out in this instance.
“This is the largest number of victims of any mass shooting in the United States (or Canada). That the victims apparently were targeted specifically due to their sexual orientation makes this act of violence all the more reprehensible, if murdering innocents were not reprehensible enough.
“I should like to express my personal and Brock’s sympathies to the families of the victims and to the survivors. I also wish to state that any act of reprisal against our Muslim friends and neighbours would be equally reprehensible and cowardly. Bigotry is not the answer to bigotry. Rather we all need a society in which empathy is increasingly the norm.”

— Jack Lightstone, President and Vice-Chancellor, Brock University

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