It’s time for a somber national discussion about [insert latest shooting tragedy here]

It’s time to have a somber national discussion about the [insert shooting tragedy here] tragedy.

Before we get started, let’s go over a few basic ground rules.

1. In the wake of the __________ tragedy, it’s time for us all to come together as a nation and not assign blame. This is not the time, for example, to talk about how it’s easier to purchase a gun in America than it is to vote (or buy French cheese). I fact-checked the graphic below, it’s for real:

french-cheese-and-guns-correctedx

And I quote White House spokesman Jary Carney, speaking about the murder at Sandy Hook school in Newtown, Connecticut of at least 18 young children:

“I’m sure [there] will be rather a day for discussion of the usual Washington policy debates,but I don’t think today is that day,” Carney said.

Fortunately, the President’s subsequent statement was better.

2. And we won’t tolerate any second guessing of the Second Amendment right to carry assault weapons, or questions about how the Framers could have possibly envisaged an assault rifle over 200 years ago, or why a “hunter” needs six thousand rounds of ammunition, or kevlar, or smoke grenades to kill a pheasant.

Open Carry gun owner at JC Penney store in Utah

Open -carry gun owner at JC Penney store in Utah. What could possibly go wrong?

3. While the shooter may have been inspired by political fliers showing the victim in cross hairs, or may have come unhinged by inflammatory rhetoric about how said victim was coming for the shooter’s guns, discussing such motivation at this sensitive moment would be completely inappropriate. Not to mention, disrespectful to the __________ victims.

Sarah Palin showed US Rep. Gabby Giffords' district in crosshairs shortly before Giffords was shot in the head and nearly killed in an assassination attempt.

Sarah Palin showed US Rep. Gabby Giffords’ district in crosshairs shortly before Giffords was shot in the head and nearly killed in an assassination attempt.

4. If the tragedy involved someone flying a plane into a government building, or for that matter blowing up a government building, now is not the time to discuss people like Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity (no names, please), or Republicans generally (no political parties, please), incessantly trying to convince their audience that the occupant of the White House, or any government official, agency, or entire branch of government is evil and/or “un-American” and/or out to get them or our country or our freedom.

drudge-hitler-obama-stalin-578x500

5. And definitely don’t mention the Republican party’s frequent claim and/or insinuation, including suggestions from the GOP candidate himself, Mitt Romney, that the sitting Democratic President is a socialist, which in American parlance actually means “communist,” which actually means “Soviet,” which was America’s deadliest enemy out for our utter destruction.

Sure, it would be entirely understandable why someone would take up arms against a Soviet takeover of the United States, but a Democrat said something mean once about a Republican’s dog, or something, so aren’t both parties really to blame, thus making the charge moot?

tea party

Tea Party rally. The Islamic symbol at the bottom right of the poster is a nice touch. Ira Bostic / Shutterstock.com

6. Never, ever mention the NRA.  Sure, they’ve proven themselves, time and again, incapable of passing laws that effectively keep guns out of the hands of crazy mass murderers, but that’s no reason to blame them for the _______ tragedy because it’s just too early to cast blame on anyone other than the shooter, who was obviously crazy, and thus this month’s anomaly.

Now, let’s discuss for a moment the race of the shooter and the race of the victims.

7. If the ______________ tragedy involved angry white men opening fire on brown people of faith, this is definitely not the time to replay clips of bombastic commentators and politicians getting white men in places like Kansas whipped into a frenzy over Manhattan’s zoning criteria for non-Christian houses of worship.

8. But feel free to discuss if all brown people, and thus the shooter, or his victims, were Muslims – sorry, I meant to say “radical Islamists.”  And even if neither was a Muslim, make sure you discuss that point incessantly – Muslim, Muslim, Muslim, Muslim – so as to eventually sow suspicion in the public’s mind as to whether there really is a Muslim angle to this story.

9. Speaking of which, this is not the time to discuss the more general fear mongering around words like “Muslim,” including the ongoing, successful, attempt by Republicans to convince their base that our dark-skinned President is one.

Okay, I think we’re ready now to discuss the ______________ tragedy.

First off: It is entirely acceptable for a Republican to opine that the tragedy could have been averted had the victims all been armed (please disregard previous tragedies where armed police officers, or members of the military, were themselves injured by the shooter).

Second: Poignant, but ultimately meaningless, gestures such as lighting tragedy candles at nighttime vigils, and posting anti-gun petitions on Change.org, are to be encouraged.

Finally: Clutch your pearls, and all together now, ask the purely rhetorical question: “How could this happen?”

How ’bout them Bears?

Forty-eight hours after the shooting, return to talking about the Olympics and the latest Kardashian wedding until the next shooting occurs, then refer to point 1 above.

PS If the victims of the ___________tragedy were black, ignore the above restrictions and take up a collection for the shooter’s defense fund.


Chris Andoe is a New York based writer and seasoned activist. After meeting John Aravosis at a Chicago “StopDrLaura.com” protest in 2000, Chris was inspired to organize his own major demonstrations in St. Louis, his adopted hometown, which drew national attention. Since then, his activism has revolved around LGBT, affordable housing, and mass transit issues. While living in San Francisco, Andoe made headlines taking on the amorphous hacker group Anonymous for publishing nude photos of a Bay Area Rapid Transit spokesperson, saying “Puritanical shame-based tactics have no place in the capital of sexual liberation”, and he extensively covered the city’s jarring gentrification, from mass evictions to the nudity ban. Back in St. Louis Andoe’s hosted public events on the subway and elsewhere as “The Emperor” and writes the Tales from the Emperor column for Vital Voice Magazine. Always in the fray, Andoe’s been interviewed by NPR, CBS, and has been quoted from CNN to The St. Louis Post Dispatch. His upcoming book of short stories, Delusions of Grandeur, is expected out early next year.

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