When tragedy is mass tragedy, it becomes political – whether we want to “politicize” it or not. So we’re left with the question of how to respond.

Now seems as necessary a time as ever.

The events in Florida early yesterday morning left everyone I know with any connection to the dance music scene shocked and reeling. Terrorism is intended to feel personal like that. And now worldwide, in different ways, that medium of terrorism seems to be one we all have to face.

But before this happened, there was already an ever-louder drum beat in electronic music circles. We heard growing cries to turn awareness of identity politics into action. And one message that may have been hard to hear was, “this community needs to feel safe, and it doesn’t always feel safe.”

Now, I appreciate any mention of something as vague and fictional as the “electronic music community” or the “dance music community” is viewed with justified suspicion. And regardless of your own personal stake, it’s easy to want to withdraw from politics in general – at least on some days. I sure do. One of the joys in music is that it can be a refuge from politics, from whatever ails us. It can be our most important escape.

But that’s the point; that’s why this matters.

We need, as humans, places to feel safe. Places to feel loved and to love others. Places to belong. Ways of expressing how we feel.

Have you ever felt unsafe or unloved? Have you ever felt vulnerable – because of who you were, because of your sexuality? My guess is that almost anyone, irrespective of their privilege, can answer yes to all of these questions (those involving sexuality and love very much included). And while that’s likely bluntly obvious, it’s worth some reflection. If you’re capable of honestly appreciating those moments in yourself, then I think you’re probably capable of feeling empathy for others. And knowing that the people you want to reach have that same feelings suggests hope.

Identity politics is just one part of that. It can and should make people feel uncomfortable. If we really listen, it should allow any of us to realize that there’s someone else’s experience that we don’t wholly understand. There’s someone who’s having a rougher time of it than we are. (And yes, that probably goes for all of us reading this – someone, somewhere, has less privilege than we do, no matter how much we’ve suffered.) And not only that, but the political side of this suggests – there’s something we should do about it, personally.

I am hugely grateful that people are loudly talk about obstacles facing female-identified artists in music, and color and racial background in music, and sexuality and queer politics in music, and class and economic access in music. I’m grateful when people stand up for anyone deemed by various corners of our society to be freaks or uncool or ugly or overweight or any of the rest of the people who deserve to be in our dancefloors and in our electronic music studios and academies and in our noise making concert halls and spaces.

In particular, because they nicely dominate my social media news feed, I’m glad to hear from the people working at female pressure, from my fierce and freaky friends in Berlin and those I talk to on the Internet because you’re far away, to musicians like DJ Shiva who relentlessly champions the underprivileged and the underground and techno as balm for the soul, or my fellow child of the proud Commonwealth of Kentucky, The Black Madonna, who has taken her successes in reaching larger audiences as an opportunity to talk about politics and love in a way that makes me glad to celebrate dance music. To anyone who says we talk about issues of identity in music too much, listen harder. (To anyone who says we talk about this too much with nothing changing, come sit next to me and let’s figure it out.)

When horrible things happen in the world, it’s easy and natural to question whether we’re doing something meaningful with our lives. I remember having that feeling at the City University of New York, sitting in a composition lesson on the Upper West Side when we smelled the burning World Trade Center, creeping through the window, and later that day in a theory class (later to find the Empire State Building had been evacuated). To be honest, then I really wasn’t so sure.

A lot has happened, and I’m personally a lot more sure.

I want to say, I really want you to keep doing what you’re doing. Making music and making tools for making music probably isn’t essential to everyone. But wow, is it ever important to some of the freaks we know and love. And if you’re reading this, it has to matter to you in some special way, or you wouldn’t know this weird website in the first place.

It has personally saved my life, when I was able to share something inside myself with just one listener, when I was able to go into a space to discover something inside myself through someone else’s music. That’s why I’m a writer and a musician and why I care about music and the way it’s made. And the very essence of it is sharing.

These spaces aren’t open to everybody. There are a lot of people who can’t get in – can’t afford or enter the club, or the technology, who don’t feel welcome. So if we care about what they’ve meant for us, we have to help let them in.

But in an age when hateful, terrifying ideas are spreading at epidemic rates, maybe now is the best time to see how quickly we can spread our weird world of music, because at least there, there’s a way to express hurt and longing and to feel love.

When I graduated from my undergraduate college, we had a speaker on infectious disease who came to tell our group of mostly poets, modern dance choreographers, and 17th century painting scholars that humanity faced an existential threat from mass contagion that would kill us all. (Got it. When do I throw my cap in the air again?) I suspect he was right, and I’m grateful he’s working on the problem. But I’m terrible at stopping pandemics, and my own high school teachers would tell you I’d be a disaster as a lab assistant.

What it seemed he didn’t consider was the threat of pandemic unhappiness and how to cure it. Musicians can’t solve that, either, but at least we can help. (Also, those scientists might want a party to unwind after a long day at the lab.) But now, the contagion of misery does appear to pose a deadly threat, as well.

We have a lot of groups of people who are hurting even more after yesterday than they were the day before. Of course this means LGBTQ friends, and anyone who has ever gone into a nightclub as refuge. It also means people who have experienced loss and violence in nightclubs before, those who have experienced terror before.

America’s Muslim community and people of Arab descent will feel newly unsafe and unwelcome and unloved, along with many groups who simply look foreign or have foreign-sounding names. Some conservatives are already arguing that compassion for LGBTQ groups and compassion for Muslim Americans is somehow incompatible. I disagree, and I believe in music we have a unique obligation to welcome both marginalized groups; I believe people should be able to feel proud of who they are and where they’ve come from and practice what they love. A Representative from Florida said the “nationality of family members is indicative” in regards to the shooter – plain, calculated racism as talking point, made worse by the fact that bigots tend to know little about nationality or religion in the first place. That’s the world we live in, too, the one that answers bigotry and terror with bigotry and terror.

We also have to face that the reality of loss in Orlando is one faced by many people around the world, from Europe to the Americas to Africa to Asia. Now this year as I’ve gotten to know musicians from Iran, from Syria, from Pakistan, I’m starting to get to talk to these new neighbors and extended family about their own experience of safety in expression and how our experiences differ and compare.

We now all have common cause, to work as hard as we can to make places in which people can express themselves.

And please – let’s agree that we’ll turn off the news, turn off social media, go make some music, and share it with someone – even one person – and listen to some music they share with us. We need you, you personally, to feel strong, whatever that takes. We need you to keep making music, because “too much music” is not really the biggest problem this planet has right now.

And that’s the kind of electronic music “community” we need. We need always to be aware of where we can grow: in our own realization, and what we share with others. We need to give ourselves enough love to keep making music. And we need to try to include people faster than they are excluded, to make safe spaces more quickly than they can be undone. Even failing at that would be worth doing. So thank you for the chance to work together – now more than ever.

  • Jesse Engel

    Nice, Peter. Well said.

  • Nicely put. Thank you for this.

  • Respectfully…

    Fifty people gunned down, and your response to ISIS is to make more inclusive safe spaces?

    It’s no wonder that Trump is doing so well….

    • Respectfully … I don’t believe the *music community* is necessarily tasked with how to respond to ISIS. What a site about music can do is respond to the emotional needs of the electronic music community and the significance of what it means to make music.

      In nightlife, we do rely in part (whether we might like to admit it or not) on laws and law enforcement to keep us safe. That would in turn suggest that we need common sense gun laws that allow law enforcement and gun sellers to use background checks and terror watch lists, and that renew the now expired ban on the AR-15, but Trump’s party opposes that. So yes, it is a wonder he’s doing so well. But I’m not running for President, and CDM isn’t tasked with gun control legislation (the business is, indeed, based in Germany, not the USA, so in one of the many countries of the world that has sensible gun laws – since you decided to comment).

      • “I don’t believe the *music community* is necessarily tasked with how to respond… ”

        You don’t speak for the “music community”. I was responding to what you said.

        And I find it interesting that you invoke the rather predictable Gun regulation trope without even mentioning radical Islam?

        And lets ignore how the feel good fantasy of Gun Control in America would not have stopped ANY of the recent attacks. Unless, of course, you’re suggesting that we totally ban guns in the USA?

        If that’s the case then please have a look at this video.

        Create a Gun free america in 5 Easy steps!

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnoFKskvSq4

        • I wrote an article from the perspective of a musician, and talked about what I thought the emotional needs of the music community are.

          I don’t speak for the music community; I’m simply a member of it.

          You’re now polluting the CDM comment thread with an argument about guns.

          I pay the bill for this server. I’m happy to delete these comments, as they respond in no way to what I’ve said. And when I’ve specifically said I think that Muslim members of our larger community will now face unjust blame for what has happened, you’ve decided that I didn’t bring up “radical Islam.”

          • “You’re now polluting the CDM comment thread with an argument about guns.”

            Fair enough. But it’s interesting that you can invoke Gun legislation as a response to my criticism concerning the tonality of your posting, but when I respond with an opinion you call it “polluting”?

            But, again, fair enough. It’s your bar.

            Cheers!

          • BlackStar

            Since Peter is too nice to say anything and he has a job to do around here, I’ll go ahead and say it for him (and probably everyone else reading this site)…you, sir, are a total douche bag.

          • Gunboat_Diplo

            I don’t want to continue this thread on CDM, but since nobody can give me a straight answer, i’ll ask you:
            in your mind, is there ANY circumstance that would disqualify a person from buying a gun?

          • ‘is there ANY circumstance that would disqualify a person from buying a gun?”

            Yes. But it’s a short list.

            And I agree about continuing. I responded to Peters posting, (and Peter). He’s made it clear that he’s not interested in this type of discussion on his site (or at least my opinions, which I stand by) and I want to respect that.

            I’m an Atheist and I politically identify with Libertarians. The Net is ripe with information for anyone interested in those philosophical positions.

          • Gunboat_Diplo

            you won’t share that list? the NRA today said that they don’t have problems with people on Terror Watch List or the No-Fly List buying guns.

          • Please re-read my posting above. If you want to take this discussion off-line Im more than happy to chat…

            Thanks

          • Gunboat_Diplo

            so you actually don’t have that list. thanks for clarifying that you believe there are zero disqualifiers to owning a gun. I didn’t want to chat. I just wanted that list of disqualifiers.

          • “thanks for clarifying that you believe there are zero disqualifiers to owning a gun”

            So you say….

        • Leo Pold

          since you into videos, try this one out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rR9IaXH1M0

          • This discussion is going nowhere until both of you come to the conclusion that this isn’t an EITHER OR argument. BOTH private gun ownership and radicalism (not just islamic but any religious or otherwise fact-free based belief system) are influences that lead to such tragedies.

          • Leo Pold

            I was going the humourous path as logic argumentation is usually futile in such discussion. But yes, I agree with you. Any dogmatic stance is prone to extremism and violence due to the absence of logic and reasoning to back it up.

    • That could just as easily have been a Christian terrorist. For LGBT people, it historically has been.

      Spare me the misplaced, inflammatory kneejerk.

      • “That could just as easily have been a Christian terrorist”

        Source please?

        • Leo Pold

          top of my head, Breivik.

        • Charles

          Any of the rightwing Christian politicians, pastors, and activists who’ve been preaching homophobia for years: Pat Robertson, Rick Santorum, Phyllis Schlafly, Roy Moore, Tony Perkins, Ted Cruz, Rick Warren, Scott Lively, Anita Bryant, Bob Jones (all three of them), Tim LaHaye, Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, Maggie Gallagher, Fred Phelps, Laura Schlessinger, Ken Cuccinelli, Michele Bachman, Lou Engle, Bryan Fischer, Brian Brown, Trent Franks, Peter LaBarbera, Mat Staver, Gary Bauer, Jason and David Benham, E. W. Jackson, Sandy Rios, Phil Bryant, Larry Pratt, Steven Anderson, Walid Shoebat, Sally Kern, and so on and so on and so on.

          http://www.rightwingwatch.org/category/topics/anti-gay

          Funny that you haven’t noticed.

          • Lol. And your comparing these people (as nauseating as they are) to an heavily armed psychotic (who’s affiliated with a overt death cult) that happily kills 50 people in cold blood for having the audacity of being Gay and dancing?

            Face palm.

          • Charles

            Yeah, I am. They’re all guilty of the kind of hateful rhetoric that incites anti-gay violence, claiming that homosexuality is “destroying America”, “against nature and harmful to society”, “one of the greatest threats to our democracy we
            have seen in modern times”, “the beginning of the end of Western Civilization”, a “jihad against America’s cultural norms”, that homosexuality “poisons culture, it destroys families, it destroys societies; it brings the judgment of God unlike very few things we can think of.”

            “The good news is that at least fifty of these pedophiles are not going to be harming children anymore.”

            “The only ones moaning over fifty gays slaughtered are liberals, idiots and gay lovers.”

            “the homosexuals don’t want equality, they
            don’t want equal treatment, what they want is to destroy everybody who
            disagrees with them.”

            “it would solve the problem posthaste if homosexuals were stoned.”

            “I’ve never seen a man in my life I wanted to marry. And I’m going to be blunt and plain: If one ever looks at me like that, I’m going to kill him and tell God he died.”

            “I would warn Orlando that you’re right in the way of some serious hurricanes, and I don’t think I’d be waving those flags in God’s face if I were you.”

            Perkins, Lively, Warren and others are all supporters of the Ugandan government’s attempts to make homosexuality punishable by death, including praising it as an effort to “uphold moral conduct that protects others and in particular the most vulnerable.”

            But of course, none of that would encourage anyone to pick up a gun and defend America from the dangerous homosexual agenda. Not unless you’re part of the overt death cult known as fundamentalist Christianity.

          • Maybe you should fucking look into the history of very real Christian anti-gay terrorism in the US and fuck off.

            The people named above stoke the fire and individuals carry it out. Maybe you have never heard about this shit because you didn’t give a fuck.

            Gay clubs have been shot up, firebombed, & terrorized for decades by private individuals, while also being targeted for police raids and arrests (which, incidentally is why we have Pride in June, because Stonewall. Google it.)

            Most of the time the terror is individual. People beat, rape, & kill queer people on the streets. Or attack them in their homes. Sometimes it’s even the parents of the queer people who beat and kill them.

            Fuck you if you don’t think Christian terrorism of queer people isn’t an issue because your confirmation bias requires you to put it all on Muslims.

    • Xebulon

      “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • mikefreq

    “…washed in black, tattooed everything…”
    Division is simply the direction we are facing here in hell. Thank you Peter for saying anything at all. As the world dies it’s comforting to see those remembering unity speak out.

  • Random Chance

    At first, when reading this editorial, I was skeptical. I don’t go to clubs, partially because I don’t feel welcome but mostly because it’s not my favourite experience in the world. But then I read this beautiful sentence: ““too much music” is not really the biggest problem this planet has right now.” I can relate to that. And I strongly agree with the sentiment that fear, hate and division between people are the enemy and need to be fought every single day. Not by violent means or overt criticism but mostly by positive action. To promote an environment around you in which people will open up and be willing to share with each other. I’ve seen so much good come from that. It would be simply madness to not do it and to give in to fear and ultimately hate as necessary as fear is it times. And to all the steelworkers of America I say: Keep on reaching for that rainbow!

  • Give Reason A Chance

    This is all very very sad….on very account..

    When an Anders Breivik (or Timothy McVeigh, or David Koresh, etc..) kills hundreds of people, in the name of “white/christian purity” or a similar motive, everyone just assumes they’re individuals, lunatic crazies and don’t represent the entire white/christian community. And rightly so. The vast majority of whites/christians (whether religious or not) , just like the vast majority of blacks, muslims and jews ( or whatever group you can think of ) are just regular people trying to go on with their life.

    But have the killer be brown and/or muslim, and suddenly they are considered as representative of their entire group or religion. “Oh, they’re just doing what all muslims are supposed to do. “. They are not individuals anymore , but legitimate bassadors of their group.
    On that account, are we supposed to believe that all christians are active pedophiles ( or about to become so ) because hundreds of church priests around the world were caught doing so ?
    Most people seem quite able to apply reason and discernment when the perpetrators are white/christians, but their reason goes out the window as soon as the perpetrator’s skin gets browner or the associated religious background gets un-christian….

    I’m a musician of arabic/muslim descent. I’m neither proud nor ashamed of it , I feel the concepts don’t even apply. You’re just born in a geographical location , inherit a name, a nationality, a religion, a skin color, you don’t choose any of that. The only thing you choose are your present actions. That’s the thing you’re responsible for. It’s up to you to try and be a decent human being and be helpful to your fellow humans when you can.

    However, the best decision I’ve taken a few years ago was to take a more western sounding artist name, and everyday I read the comments in newspapers/blogs just confirms I was right doing so..
    It’s already hard to thrive as a musician these days. If on top of that, you also need to constantly defend yourself from being amalgamated with some lunatic thugs just because of your name , it just becomes too overwhelming… I’m sure there are quite a few musicians from the same background out there doing the same.
    There are not enough hours in a day to constantly explain to ignorant people that no, you don’t wake up in the morning thinking about how to kill “infidels”, lol…

    Maybe some day I’ll dare again put out my music under my real name, but I don’t think it’s gonna happen within my limited time on this planet.

    Right now, music is the only space where I feel good , away from the constant escalation of violence and blaming, from all sides. The whole world is getting radicalized. ” Buy more Guns ! Kill all **** ! Deport all **** from the country ! My kind of **** is holier/purer/superior than your **** ! ”
    Really people, just look at a map of the galaxy, and witness how ridiculously insignificant is the size of the earth, and how tiny are the fragile creatures that inhabit it.
    Live and let live. Help others when you can, even within your limited means. People all bleed and suffer and cry the same way.

    Now pardon me, but I need to go back into soaking those synth lines into more reverb. I can’t help it, I’m a reverb extremist :-)))