Addressing the Shootings in the Atlanta Area

In my COVID update post last Thursday, I spent the first part of the post talking about the shootings that happened in three Atlanta-area spas. However, I think it is important to dedicate a full post to the shootings, considering some of the discourse that’s existed in the shootings’ aftermath.

First of all, my heart goes out to the families of the victims. No platitudes or words can ever possibly erase the fact that Soon Chung Park, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim, Yong Ae Yue, Soon Chung Park, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim, and Yong Ae Yue should not have died in shootings.

As of the time I published this post, the exact motive of the shooting remains unknown, but much speculation about the shooting seems to center around ethnicity (most of the people killed were women of Asian descent, four of whom were of Korean descent) and the perpetrator’s alleged sex addiction.

But, regardless of whether the motive is ethnicity-related, sex addiction-related, some combination of the two, or neither one, we need to talk about two of the big issues raised in light of the shooting: anti-Asian hate and sex addiction itself (also known as compulsive sexual behavior[1]).

With regards to anti-Asian hate, while there is still an investigation into how much that was a motive of the shooter, what cannot be denied is that anti-Asian hate crimes have been sharply on the rise in the past year. In 16 of America’s largest cities, the targeting of Asian people has increased by 150% in the past year.[2] Even if the current investigations happen to find that anti-Asian bias wasn’t a motive by the shooter, it does not take away from the fact that anti-Asian speech and violence are a problem in this country, and a problem that is exacerbated by the fact that too many in American society (including the previous President of the United States) have either scapegoated people of Asian descent for COVID or fanned the flames of scapegoating people of Asian descent.[3] Regardless of the shooter’s motive, anti-Asian bias is an issue we need to grapple with.

Speaking of anti-Asian bias, and hate crimes in general, while the statistics indicate that anti-Asian hate crimes are on the rise, the reporting of hate crimes in the United States is not what it should be. The reason is that data on hate crimes depends on the voluntary submission of data from local police agencies—something that results in severe undercounting of hate crimes.[4] This is an issue that needs to be discussed more in order to truly understand the extent of anti-Asian bias, which in turn could better inform decisions on how to address said hate. The underreporting of hate crimes frankly requires its own blog post, and I plan on talking about this issue more in next week’s blog post.

As for the issue of sex addiction/compulsive sexual behavior, I am deeply concerned that this shooting will end up stigmatizing people who struggle with compulsive sexual behavior in general. This is an issue some people struggle with, but it is not an issue that necessarily results in someone becoming violent as this shooter became violent. In fact, a doctor interviewed by USA Today who’s been treating people with compulsive sexual behavior for over 30 years says that under 1% of his patients have committed any violent act.[5] In spite of that, the most famous example of someone allegedly battling this sort of issue is this mass shooter, so I am therefore concerned that the shooting could create an issue for people battling compulsive sexual behavior.

Yet, at the same time, there is a history of the notion of sex addiction being used by people, usually white men, to try and absolve themselves for their responsibility with certain actions, especially actions that are misogynistic.[6] As such, while it is completely possible that this sort of issue played a role in the shootings, we should be careful not to automatically assume that issues with compulsive sexual behavior/sex addiction were a motive, in spite of what the shooter has said about a sex addiction playing a role in his motivation for killing people.

There is so much more that could be talked about, but given that investigations are ongoing as of the time I’m publishing this post, I will wait to say too much more until the current investigations run their course. That being said, if there is more that I feel needs to be said once that happens, I will be sure to do so.


[1] Based on the literature I’ve read from both the Mayo Clinic and the National Institutes on Health, there seems to be some question about whether compulsive sexual behavior (which does exist) is clinically an addiction: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4677151/. I am not qualified to answer this question, but what I will say is that if the scientific experts at the Mayo Clinic and the National Institutes on Health both believe that some people struggle with compulsive sexual behavior, I am also inclined to believe that some people struggle with compulsive sexual behavior. Additionally, since there is some question as to whether compulsive sexual behavior is clinically an addiction, I’m going to call it “compulsive sexual behavior” as much as I can in this blog post.

[2] https://www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/anti-asian-hate-crimes-increased-nearly-150-2020-mostly-n-n1260264

[3] I talked about this in my post a couple of weeks ago about scapegoating groups during a crisis: https://blindinjusticeblog.com/2021/03/08/scapegoating-groups-during-a-crisis-is-nothing-new/

[4] https://www.propublica.org/article/police-dont-do-a-good-job-tracking-hate-crimes-a-new-report-calls-on-congress-to-take-action

[5] https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/health-wellness/2021/03/18/atlanta-shooting-sex-addiction-what-it-can-turn-violent/4746720001/

[6] https://www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/how-sex-addiction-has-historically-been-used-absolve-white-men-n1261623

10 Replies to “Addressing the Shootings in the Atlanta Area”

  1. Good post, Brendan. And thank you, for naming the victims. All too often the killer’s name ends up being a household word, while the victims names are once read and long forgotten. You’ve summed up the current spike in anti-Asian hate crimes well … I lay much of it at the feet of the former guy who could not resist attributing the pandemic to the Chinese people. Yes, it apparently began in China, but through no fault of the people of that nation, or the Asian-Americans who are being targeted today. We simply must grow up and understand that we are all in this world together, no one race or ethnicity being superior to another. Sigh.

    And tonight brings news of yet another mass shooting … ten dead … 😥

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know that the killer’s name often becomes a household word, yet that doesn’t happen to the victims. For that reason, I went to great lengths, as you can tell, to give names to the victims but not the perpetrator.

      All the talk of the “China Virus” and the “Kong Flu” is, I think, a fair bit of why we are where we are. The former White House occupant may be gone, but the issue he started isn’t going to disappear as easily, I fear.

      The news of the mass shooting makes me very sad, upset, angry. etc.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, and I do appreciate that! Oh, I fully agree that the former guy’s denigration of China regarding the coronavirus is a large part … maybe all … of the reason for the current racism toward Asian-Americans. It’s ridiculous, but people don’t seem to use their brains too much these days. Sigh.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I really don’t know what to think about people and the fact that there are so many groups and individuals that always have to blame others instead of working towards making a peaceful, cooperative and sympathetic society. I hope people will really look at what we are becoming and do something positive to help.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that when there’s a bad situation, we look for someone to blame for it. I think that is what happens. Of course, sometimes looking to blame just one person is unproductive and doesn’t do anything.

      Like

  3. Thanks for your helpful post. You lift up all the salient points that are often forgotten, and simply the fact that these issues are interwoven and complex. Control of guns as in so many other places would change the stakes. Not that hate crimes or violence emerging from the pressures of an addiction cannot happen in other ways, but the ease and irrevocability of gun violence changes the stakes.

    Liked by 1 person

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