It's beyond irresponsible for legacy news outlets to uncritically parrot unsubstantiated volatile claims from a mass murder and hate crime suspect. Yet that is exactly what happened on Tuesday regarding last weekend’s mass shooting in Colorado Springs at Club Q. 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich, the mass shooter in question, is facing murder and hate crime charges after shooting up an LGBTQ+ bar. Five people were killed and over twenty were injured. Aldrich’s lawyers say that Aldrich is suddenly identifying as non-binary and now uses they/them pronouns. The far-right is eating this tidbit up and using this to simultaneously deflect blame of incitement from themselves while reinforcing their anti-LGBTQ+ vilification campaign. But here’s the problem: what we already know about Anderson Lee Aldrich contradicts this new non-binary claim. There is absolutely no documented history of Aldrich’s gender identity being non-binary or Aldrich’s preferred pronouns being they/them. What we do know about Anderson Lee Aldrich suggests that Aldrich identifies as a male, uses he/him pronouns, and is a vicious homophobe that uses the anti-gay slur “f*ggot” constantly.
Aldrich’s mother describes Aldrich as her son and describes Aldrich with he/him pronouns. So does Aldrich’s homophobic father (who also confirmed Aldrich is straight). So does Aldrich’s other relatives. So does Aldrich’s friends. So does Aldrich’s neighbors. “I had no idea he would ever go this far,” one of Aldrich’s relatives told The Daily Beast. A former friend and neighbor recounted Aldrich’s use of anti-gay slurs:
“There would be times where he and his mom would get into fights, arguments, because he would be saying hateful things about whoever he was angry with. He said things sometimes that probably should have been alarming to me. He used the term “f*ggot” a lot. Most of the time it came from a place of anger.”
This non-binary claim should be taken as seriously as Tucker Carlson’s Twitter profile claiming his pronouns are she/her or Ted Cruz claiming his pronouns are kiss/my/ass. It's abundantly clear that Aldrich's legal team wants to use this feeble stunt to deflect hate crime charges and/or further vilify the LGBTQ+ community. Countless journalists and legal experts have already called out this obvious trolling maneuver for what it is.
Consider if the claim were true:
A non-binary person targeted and killed LGBTQ+ people. Which means they would be homophobic and transphobic. This wouldn't be a "get out of jail free" card for those pushing deadly bigotry. It would still be a terrorist hate crime incited by violent rhetoric popularized by Republicans.
Gay people can still be homophobic. Transgender people can still be transphobic. Jewish people can still be antisemitic. Muslim people can still be Islamophobic. Immigrants can still be xenophobic. Black people can still be anti-Black. Women can still be misogynistic. Betraying your own on behalf of an oppressor is as ancient as oppression itself.
Consider if the claim is false, which it most certainly is:
Mainstream media helped a mass murderer troll victims and muddy the waters by proliferating a lie that helps the narrative that inspired the massacre in the first place. And they did this all without any hesitation or fact checking.
Either way, the result is the same: the Republican Party's demonization of LGBTQ+ people in the United States is succeeding and more of LGBTQ+ people are dying. Countless liberals and journalists have proven they will give infinite benefit of the doubt to anti-LGBTQ+ killers while throwing LGBTQ+ victims under the bus. This murderous anti-LGBTQ+ blood libel was spawned by fascist provocateurs, minted by far-right media, and canonized into the mainstream by traditional legacy news media. Rome wasn't built in a day, and genocides are a team effort.