If lawyers for accused 22-year-old Colorado Springs shooter Anderson Lee Aldrich are to be believed, the narrative on the mass killing at gay nightspot Club Q is about to change in a major way.
Not because they have exculpatory evidence that lets Aldrich off the hook. In fact, what we know seems pretty damning: Aldrich was allegedly tackled in the midst of the shooting at Club Q on Saturday by two patrons, one of whom was an Army vet. Five people were killed and 17 were wounded in the shooting, and Aldrich faces murder and hate-crime charges, according to Axios.
It’s the hate-crime aspect that the media has seized upon, however.
Without any evidence, pundits have claimed Aldrich was a religious extremist (while he was once a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the church says he hadn’t been a practicing Mormon in over a decade) or motivated by conservative politicians or commentators (despite no compelling reason to believe that he was indoctrinated by the right, a former FBI assistant director said both Colorado GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert and Fox News host Tucker Carlson “should face civil consequences” at trial, according to Fox News).
So, what to make of the fact that, according to his lawyers, Aldrich believes himself to be nonbinary and goes by the pronouns “they/them”?
That news was broken by The New York Times’ Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, who reported Tuesday night that Aldrich’s public defenders referred to him as “Mx. Anderson Aldrich” in papers and said “[t]hey use they/them pronouns, and for the purposes of all formal filings, will be addressed as Mx. Aldrich.”
According to Axios, the filing was made in advance of Aldrich’s first appearance in court on Wednesday, which will happen via video link.
For once, liberal Twitter — somewhat unsurprisingly — began doubting the sincerity and sanctity of someone’s personal pronouns and gender identification.
Now, I’m perfectly willing to say this could be for cynical purposes, but this is because a) I don’t believe “nonbinary” identities are really a thing except in a handful of biologically extreme cases, and b) I’ve previously been willing to entertain the presupposition there can be cynical purposes behind someone’s identification with a fictive sexual minority.
For the most part, those on the left haven’t — until, of course, it clashes with their narrative.
A person who has a history of going by the nonbinary pronouns “they/them” and demands to be called as much in court isn’t a likely mark to be indoctrinated by “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” nor is such a person likely to have come by anti-LGBT bigotry while sitting in the church pews during an anti-gay screed. Everyone with an ounce of sense knows that.
Was the religious right responsible for the Colorado Springs shooting?
Thus, if it comes out that Aldrich was consistently and persistently nonbinary, that throws a wrench into a lot of empty theorizing about what precipitated this attack.
Again, it’s entirely possible that this is just a ploy. We don’t know the facts. But then, based on what we publicly know about the case, there’s as much evidence for Aldrich believing himself to be nonbinary as there is for him being moved to murder by a toxic brew of Matt Walsh and Pat Robertson.
But to hear the ladies on “The View” talk about it earlier this week, it was a fait accompli that religious brainwashing played a part in this:
To the extent we know anything about the alleged shooter — and his arrest records have been sealed by an El Paso, Colorado, County judge, according to KRDO-TV, which makes it significantly harder to play blame detective here — the facts point to a young man who was raised in an unstable environment and was reportedly severely unstable himself.
According to The Denver Gazette, Aldrich was born Nicholas Franklin Brink to a couple who separated when he was a year old.
His father was a mixed-martial-arts-fighter-turned-porn star with a criminal past and a history of drug use. When changing his name, Aldrich’s biological grandmother wrote in court papers that “minor wishes to protect himself and his future from any connections to birth father and his criminal history. Father has had no contact with minor for several years.”
Aldrich’s mother was also arrested on an arson charge in San Antonio when Aldrich was just 11 but didn’t complete her probation.
Aldrich himself was allegedly arrested for a bomb threat at his mother’s house. “Shortly before he changed his name, the suspected shooter apparently was a target of online bullying and showed signs of a fascination with gay culture,” the Gazette reported.
This bespeaks numerous possible motives — all of which, in the end, boil down to an unstable upbringing and likely mental illness. Those can’t be hung like a millstone around the necks of Christian conservatives, though, so faith and punditry that don’t embrace left-wing gender and sexual ideology were immediately scapegoated for the alleged shooter’s supposed LGBT-phobic views, instead.
Never mind that nobody checked to see whether those views existed or not. Circumstantial evidence was enough for the cultural ambulance chaser set.
If this turns out to be more complicated than that narrative — and Tuesday night’s court filing indicates it might be — watch this story disappear from the headlines.
This is how the left works in situations like this: If a tragedy can’t be used to make a point, then what’s the point?
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