The sadistic prosecution of Noor Salman
April 5, 2018 8:05 AM   Subscribe

Everyone Got The Pulse Massacre Story Completely Wrong "Not long after Omar Mateen opened fire inside a bustling gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, the media scrambled to understand his depraved actions... Over the past two weeks in Orlando, Mateen’s widow, Noor Salman, was tried for having allegedly helped him plan his attack. The popular understanding of the Pulse shooting as a carefully targeted massacre was on trial as well. And in acquitting Salman, 31, on Friday, a jury also delivered a verdict on the story we’d told ourselves about the killings: We’d gotten it wrong."
posted by MythMaker (43 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
 
This brings to mind the excellent book Columbine by Dave Cullen. Drawing on mountains of primary evidence, it shows how the popular narrative that emerged after the shooting (bullied outsiders pushed over the edge) was completely wrong. It's a really interesting read about both the tragedy itself and how the truth gets distorted in these situations.
posted by Sangermaine at 8:10 AM on April 5, 2018 [35 favorites]


wow, I had no idea. What a terrible thing to happen to someone who was a victim themselves. As a queer person I have complicated feelings about this, but as an american I am terribly angry at the prosecution for acting with such obvious mendacious.
posted by rebent at 8:34 AM on April 5, 2018 [3 favorites]


This brings to mind the excellent book Columbine by Dave Cullen. Drawing on mountains of primary evidence, it shows how the popular narrative that emerged after the shooting (bullied outsiders pushed over the edge) was completely wrong. It's a really interesting read about both the tragedy itself and how the truth gets distorted in these situations.

An interesting thing about both situations is that the social wrong both incorrect narratives ascribed the violence to is something real and important that should have been focused on before. Internalized homophobia with the potential for violence is just as much a problem in our society now as school bullying was then, and part of the reason the narratives were latched onto so quickly is that many people recognized these problems and had known that they needed to be addressed for years, so it was easy to interpret those aspects of these horrific events as the cause, even if they weren't. It's unbelievably awful that it takes mass death events for us as a society to stop and take a look at uncomfortable problems that have been largely ignored, and I worry that our collective ability to even pay that much attention to these things is being eroded, since each of these horrible events makes less of an impression on the public consciousness than the previous ones.
posted by Copronymus at 8:38 AM on April 5, 2018 [11 favorites]


The fact the original target was the Disney shopping area was the only nail needed in the coffin of the official narrative, really, but this quote struck me as so fucking familiar.

Mateen had pledged allegiance to the self-described Islamic State during the shooting, and explicitly said that he was acting to avenge air strikes in the Middle East.

'Islamic' terrorists always, always tell us they are acting in response to US imperialism overseas, and yet we ignore this every time, replacing it with a convoluted narrative about how they hate our freedoms... or in this case, our sexual liberation.

It's always been blowback. These acts are not right, or fair, or proportional, or legal, or moral... but they have always been something we, America, have been asking for with our actions overseas. Every fucking time.
posted by rokusan at 8:40 AM on April 5, 2018 [39 favorites]


It’s striking that so many people in the community seem determined to hate her regardless of the evidence.

She was beaten, raped, and low key tortured by a man she had no power over, but somehow the woman is still responsible.
posted by schadenfrau at 8:42 AM on April 5, 2018 [66 favorites]


This investigation was fundamentally dishonest from day one, not only in the malicious prosecution of Noor Salman, but in the way that the investigators neglected to mention until the very end of the trial that oh yeah, btw everybody, the shooter's father has been an informant on our payroll for eleven years, including in 2013 when those same investigators decided that the shooter was not a threat. The awful NY Post cover ("She Could Have Saved Them All") in the linked article was (unsurprisingly) a lie, but there were people who could have saved them all: the FBI agents whose job it was to do so. They failed at their job, they did their damnedest to cover up that failure and pin it on an innocent victim, and not one of them has suffered the slightest consequence for doing so.
posted by enn at 8:44 AM on April 5, 2018 [56 favorites]


The fact the original target was the Disney shopping area was the only nail needed in the coffin of the official narrative, really

And the reason it wasn't the eventual target ? The presence of lots of security.

(Now, I'm no fan of "more good guys with guns", but gotta take the good and the bad away from this article).
posted by k5.user at 8:44 AM on April 5, 2018 [2 favorites]


Actual security is a lot different than an armed citizenry in public. I don't see many gun control advocates fighting to reduce the number of trained security officers anywhere.
posted by rokusan at 8:55 AM on April 5, 2018 [34 favorites]


Trained ones? With actual training? No, that would be fantastic!
posted by Naberius at 8:57 AM on April 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


Was the security at Disney Springs armed men walking around with guns, or the presence of metal detectors and bag checks like they have at the theme parks?
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:01 AM on April 5, 2018 [10 favorites]


And the reason it wasn't the eventual target ? The presence of lots of security.

Now, I'm no fan of "more good guys with guns"


There is something to be said for officially-sanctioned "good guys", wearing identifiable uniforms, acting within the bounds of responsibly-designed, community focused training. I'll trust my safety to a mall cop over a "citizen on patrol" any day of the week.
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:02 AM on April 5, 2018 [8 favorites]


It's been years since I read it, but I was not impressed with Cullen's Columbine book. Yes, it presented a different narrative, but I didn't find the evidence presented for that narrative particularly convincing.

I think many queer people (myself included) will have complicated feelings about this. Because even if terrorizing our community wasn't the intent, it was the outcome, and even if this guy didn't set out to attack us, we know that there are others who would.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 9:02 AM on April 5, 2018 [6 favorites]


The reality that this event was a zerbra doesn't change the common occurrence of horses. Pulse was the attack with the highest body count out of an extended history of attacks on LGBTQ groups and community spaces. We had every reason to believe that this attack was someone acting on the kind of threats and violent rhetoric we deal with on routine.

I thought the prosecution of Noor Salman was fishy from the start given that aggrieved masculinity and intimate partner violence are common among mass shooters.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 9:08 AM on April 5, 2018 [22 favorites]


This prosecution was a crime in and of itself, and demonstrates the utter folly of strict prosecutorial immunity as clearly as if that was its intent.

But what was the intent?

I think they were trying to cover up the fact that they'd dropped the ball on Omar because his father was an informant.
posted by jamjam at 9:23 AM on April 5, 2018 [11 favorites]


Sometimes I think some of these cases are driven by every prosecutor within reach wanting a scalp in connection with a high-profile case, especially if the perpetrator is dead. As with the bizarrely overzealous prosecution of some dumbass 19-year-old friends of one of the Boston Marathon bombers, who took a backpack filled with firework shells from his apartment after he was announced as a suspect (another stain on the record of Carmen Ortiz). Prosecutors are allowed to be ambitious, too, but they really have to consider the bodies they may be building on.
posted by praemunire at 9:27 AM on April 5, 2018 [8 favorites]


There is something to be said for officially-sanctioned "good guys"

I assume you are not a black person?

Heck, this entire story shows that our officially sanctioned "good guys" - the cops, prosecutors and justice system who investigated and prosecuted Salman - were anything but "good".
posted by splitpeasoup at 9:27 AM on April 5, 2018 [39 favorites]


But what was the intent?

I think they were trying to cover up the fact that they'd dropped the ball on Omar because his father was an informant.


They being the DA etc? That department didn't drop the ball. If anyone did, it was the FBI. I mean, I'm not exactly up on these things, but I don't see these two organizations being so inextricably entwined that they'd conspire as such.

Sometimes I think some of these cases are driven by every prosecutor within reach wanting a scalp in connection with a high-profile case,

This feels far more likely, combined with jumping to conclusions and thus digging a hole, and so on. If I'm personally learning anything from this, it's re-learning to be wary of my biases. Because I never for a moment doubted the "official story" that it was a homophobic thing.
posted by philip-random at 9:34 AM on April 5, 2018


Rachel Snyder, New Yorker: The Trial of Noor Salman and its Shocking Disregard for Survivors of Domestic Violence: On top of the abuse she suffered, Salman apparently had a below-average IQ and was in special education in school. She sounds like she was vulnerable in so many different ways. I hope she has a better life free of abuse from now on.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 9:37 AM on April 5, 2018 [18 favorites]


I thought the prosecution of Noor Salman was fishy from the start given that aggrieved masculinity and intimate partner violence are common among mass shooters.

Part of the time honored tradition of finding the closest woman and blaming her for what a man has done, utterly ignoring her victim status. Same as it always is.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 9:48 AM on April 5, 2018 [27 favorites]




This brings to mind the excellent book Columbine by Dave Cullen. Drawing on mountains of primary evidence, it shows how the popular narrative that emerged after the shooting (bullied outsiders pushed over the edge) was completely wrong.


The only reason that narrative gained traction is that the Clumbine murders happened right after the movie The Basketball Diaries came out.

The bullied outsider narrative was the result of a dream sequence in movie. Nothing more.
posted by ocschwar at 10:00 AM on April 5, 2018


There is something to be said for officially-sanctioned "good guys"

I assume you are not a black person?


Fair enough, I'm not, and perhaps I should have been more explicit in stressing the importance of community-focused training (that would presumably include not profiling or hassling POCs), which I realize that few mall security folks get, or are even able to absorb due to personal/systemic prejudice. It's a goal to aim for, at least.

I'll still take somebody who is trained to deal with the public in some way, over some concealed-carry rando who's just as likely to take out innocent bystanders as they are an actual armed assailant.
posted by Strange Interlude at 10:04 AM on April 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


'Islamic' terrorists always, always tell us they are acting in response to US imperialism overseas, and yet we ignore this every time, replacing it with a convoluted narrative about how they hate our freedoms... or in this case, our sexual liberation.

The air strikes he was responding to were aimed at ISIS, at a time when ISIS was occupying the Sinjar area and sexually enslaving young girls.

So, in this case, it was in fact about sexual liberation, an act of murder committed by a man who was already "victimized" by how we allow women to divorce their husbands in this country.
posted by ocschwar at 10:07 AM on April 5, 2018 [5 favorites]


I think they were trying to cover up the fact that they dropphttps://theintercept.com/2018/03/30/noor-salman-widow-of-pulse-killer-omar-mateen-is-found-not-guilty-of-all-charges/d the ball in Omar because his father was an informant.

They being the DA etc? That department didn't drop the ball. If anyone did, it was the FBI.

I take it you are unaware this was a Federal prosecution?
posted by jamjam at 10:08 AM on April 5, 2018 [3 favorites]


Was the security at Disney Springs armed men walking around with guns, or the presence of metal detectors and bag checks like they have at the theme parks?

Just as an FYI, Disney Springs in Orlando is basically an outdoor mall, where you can walk right in from the parking lot to the shops and restaurants. There are noticeable security guards that have handguns, and they mostly stay at certain posts (and sometimes serve as information centers when tourists in need of a bathroom can't seem to find the maps that are also ads so you have to like know they're map screens and go up and tap them). Certainly more secure than a nightclub that might only have one guard or an unarmed bouncer at the door.
posted by numaner at 11:40 AM on April 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


A longtime human rights activist, Kunst was protesting outside the federal courthouse, just two miles from the nightclub where the tragedy occurred, as Salman’s trial began. “‘FRY’ HER,” his sign read, “TILL SHE HAS NO ‘PULSE.’”
Despicable.
posted by slkinsey at 11:54 AM on April 5, 2018 [26 favorites]


'Islamic' terrorists always, always tell us they are acting in response to US imperialism overseas, and yet we ignore this every time, replacing it with a convoluted narrative about how they hate our freedoms... or in this case, our sexual liberation.

Can someone please explain this comment to me? I'm scratching my head wondering why I'm supposed to be sympathetic of ISIS supporters? This comment is the most favorited in this post? Am I missing something?
posted by xammerboy at 1:13 PM on April 5, 2018 [4 favorites]


why I'm supposed to be sympathetic of ISIS supporters?

It's not about sympathy, it's about predictable blowback from U.S. foreign policy.
posted by abrightersummerday at 1:28 PM on April 5, 2018 [12 favorites]


This has nothing to do with “sympathizing“ with ISIS supporters. You can’t solve a problem with bad information. We’re constantly being told the reason for terrorism is because they hate us for our freedoms. They’re constantly saying that they’re doing this because we keep attacking and killing them. We’re favoriting the comment because we know we need to change the message in the media if we ever hope to solve the problem that actually exists, and not the imaginary one.
(At least, that’s why I fav’d it.)
posted by greermahoney at 1:30 PM on April 5, 2018 [16 favorites]


Rosie M. Banks: Rachel Snyder, New Yorker: The Trial of Noor Salman and its Shocking Disregard for Survivors of Domestic Violence:

So, like, weird game of Kevin Bacon, but the author of this piece is my landlord (I rent a condo she owns in Chicago--been doing so for 15 years). A terrific lady and a terrific writer.
posted by tzikeh at 1:36 PM on April 5, 2018 [5 favorites]


The defense attorneys who do the Getting Off podcast focused on this prosecution this week. They do a good job of diving deep into cases and talking about the various specific issues, and it's usually worth a listen.
posted by Orlop at 1:53 PM on April 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


There are so many different ways in which LGBTQ people end up dead that don't involve premeditated homicide that I'm not convinced that Mateen's motivations really make much of a difference, at least not to me. Dead is dead, whether we're talking about the kids who committed suicide last month, Publix allegedly denying insurance coverage for PrEP, or the medical community ignoring HPV-linked cancer risk for gay and bi men when they approved a vaccine for girls, and now reluctantly extend that to the minority of young men brave enough to come out to their doctors. Dead is dead, whether the finger on the metaphorical trigger, metaphor or not, is acting out of hate, negligence, ignorance, or just a bias in favor of one's religious dogma. Which dead LGBTQ are tragedies? Every. Single. Fucking. One.

Closed is closed, and community gathering center which, itself, was a memorial for a dead brother is still closed. If Mateen had hit a Disney mall with six-figure or more gross revenue on any given Saturday, it would have been open again in a week. And if straight people lose a mall there's another mall, another coffee shop, another boutique open down the highway in Florida.

If all things were equal, maybe motive would matter. But they're not and I refuse to pretend they are. I'm fortunate that the local center is offering weekend hours, which means I can take my turn putting out the flags, minding the front desk, and keeping an eye on the front window because you never know if there will be a Mateen, Rudolph, or whoever took pot shots at a trans bar in Las Vegas last month. Closed is closed; dead is dead. I'm more concerned with survival than debating the nuances of hate vs. indifference vs. opportunity.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 1:55 PM on April 5, 2018 [14 favorites]


The only reason that narrative gained traction is that the Clumbine murders happened right after the movie The Basketball Diaries came out.

The bullied outsider narrative was the result of a dream sequence in movie. Nothing more.


I just read the book Columbine yesterday. There was, in fact, a great deal more to it.
posted by Orlop at 1:57 PM on April 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


This was a prime success of the "divide and conquer" strategy, pitting LGBQs against Muslims against abused spouses (and throw in her mental disability, it's a Royal Flush for the bigoted White 'Gentile' Cis Males). But now we have the Female Iranian Vegan Vlogger who 'shot up' YouTube to focus on and avoid the bitter truth that it's people like, well, me, who are the greatest danger to everyone else (okay, there's one part of the Evil Bros category I don't belong to... I don't have money).
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:01 PM on April 5, 2018


According to the ACLU, nearly 60% of female state prisoners nationwide and as many as 94% of certain female prison populations are survivors of physical or sexual abuse.

Some facts about women in local jails from the Vera institute:
-86% are survivors of sexual violence
-77% experienced partner violence
-70% experienced caregiver violence
-82% are incarcerated for nonviolent offenses
-80% are mothers, most are single parents
-44% are black; 15% are hispanic

Survived and Punished is a group co-founded by Mariame Kaba (@prisonculture) that aims to "build a larger movement to support criminalized survivors and abolish gender violence, policing, prisons, and deportations."
posted by melissasaurus at 2:19 PM on April 5, 2018 [16 favorites]


I humbly submit that this ISIS supporting, wife beating terrorist may not have been a fan of American freedoms.
posted by xammerboy at 2:53 PM on April 5, 2018 [3 favorites]


It's not about sympathy, it's about predictable blowback from U.S. foreign policy.

Characterizing this as "predictable blowback" means masking Omar Matteen's agency and free will.
It would be better to muster up sympathy for him, if such a thing were possible.

It's also a gross oversimplification of the term "blowback" to the point that it becomes useless.
posted by ocschwar at 5:37 PM on April 5, 2018 [2 favorites]


This brings to mind the excellent book Columbine by Dave Cullen. Drawing on mountains of primary evidence, it shows how the popular narrative that emerged after the shooting (bullied outsiders pushed over the edge) was completely wrong.

Funny you should mention Cullen's Columbine - I was reading a Reddit thread only last night where some of the commenters rather vehemently dump on that book as full of lies. The "bullied outsiders" narrative is strong in the thread.

It's been a while since I read Columbine, but I remember it as being well researched and referenced.
posted by andraste at 6:03 PM on April 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


The article mentions a statement by the jury foreperson which can be found here.
posted by great_radio at 6:46 PM on April 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


GenderNullPointerException: There are so many different ways in which LGBTQ people end up dead that don't involve premeditated homicide that I'm not convinced that Mateen's motivations really make much of a difference, at least not to me.... Closed is closed; dead is dead. I'm more concerned with survival than debating the nuances of hate vs. indifference vs. opportunity.

Most of us care about more than one thing at a time.
posted by tzikeh at 8:25 PM on April 5, 2018 [6 favorites]


I'm responding to the scolding yellow journalism of the article, only slightly exaggerated by the headline, "Everyone Got The Pulse Massacre Story Completely Wrong." And not only wrong, but complicit in the persecution of Salman as well. Some of us were expressing doubt about Mateen's motive and whether it really mattered back in 2016, and doubts about framing Salman as an accomplice as well. But I guess if it sells clicks...
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 9:55 PM on April 5, 2018


To be fair, "some of us" is not a great measuring stick.
posted by rhizome at 9:16 AM on April 6, 2018


No, Everyone Didn’t Get the Pulse Massacre Story Completely Wrong:
There are a few problems with this logic. For starters, it’s just not true that a narrative of clear-cut homophobia on Mateen’s part was taken as gospel. I reported on the ground in Orlando in the week after the attack, and even then, gay people were ambivalent about (or even indifferent to) Mateen’s motivations. Some folks believed the stories that Mateen was a closeted gay man and even a Pulse regular (and thus acting out of self-hatred), while others viewed him as mentally ill or a terrorist or some combination thereof. Media coverage in the weeks after the massacre echoed this mix of views—if anything, I recall reading more pieces skeptical of the secret male lovers and Grindr messages than stories that presented those rumors as facts. Surely a segment of the population believed that Mateen set out that night to kill some gays, but a range of theories and interpretations were (and still are!) in circulation. I don’t think it’s fair to say that “we” got anything wrong because I don’t buy that “we” believed any one theory about why Mateen did what he did. Indeed, that uncertainty is part of what made the Pulse massacre so horrifying. (links in original)
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 11:47 AM on April 6, 2018


Everything the media told us was a lie, and I'll accept no apologetics.

They told us that he was a regular at the club; that he faced little opposition because few or none had firearms; that he chose the club deliberately; that he was a card-carrying ISIS member intending to terrorize gay people because of that self-hatred; that his wife helped him plan the terrorism.

I was told lies that I believed. I will never get an apology, it seems.
posted by Yowser at 11:02 AM on April 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


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