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Saturday, May 27, 2023

Rebrand 'Mass Shootings' as 'Second Amendment Celebrations'

That way, we’ll know it’s really not about the victims

MICHAEL COBLENZ for Common Dreams

There is a huge amount of Tchotchke being sold on
the internet using this theme on posters, t-shirts
and other gun nut paraphenalia
I don’t know about you, but I’m getting really bummed out by all of these mass shootings. One after another, day after day, more than one a day since the beginning of the year. Something must change. This is America after all. The United States has a long history of dealing with challenging problems.

So, what’s the solution? Simple, rebranding.

America has a long history of rebranding, of changing the terms we use when dealing with unpleasant issues.

When slaughtering Indigenous people and stealing their land started to sound bad, we rebranded. We called it “Manifest Destiny” and said it was about spreading freedom from the Atlantic to the Pacific. This made it sound noble.

When enslaving and dehumanizing the people stolen from Africa started to get bad press, slave owners knew they had to do something. So they rebranded. They began calling it “The Peculiar Institution.”

Peculiar, sort of like your weird Uncle Phil, with his handlebar mustache and old MG, who affects a British accent. Although, as peculiar as old Phil was, he never whipped anyone to death or bred them like cattle.

After the South lost the Civil War, Southerners knew they needed to change the terms of the debate. They knew that if everyone thought they had simply been fighting to maintain slavery they would lose sympathy. They knew they had to do something to preserve any vestige of their traditions (you know, white supremacy). So they rebranded.

They starting to refer to the war as “The Lost Cause.” This just sounds mundane, non-offensive. It made it sound not much different than the loss of a hard-fought, though honorable, soccer match.

Simply a “Lost Cause,” never mind the fact that they were seeking to preserve the enslavement and systematic brutalization of millions of human beings, or the fact that Confederate soldiers routinely and summarily executed Black Union soldiers on the spot. Reality often is bad, and so sounds bad. Much better to hide behind banality, behind “The Lost Cause.”

When systemic and frequently violent racism in the 1950s started to get bad press, Southerners wisely rebranded it from white supremacy to “States’ Rights.” This sounds so much more noble, and hearkens back to the nation’s founding. Who could argue with a state simply seeking to preserve its own rights?

Perhaps the most recent example of rebranding involves “Parental Rights.” This is how conservatives now sell book bans and restrictions on medical care for transgender youth. After all, what kind of monster doesn’t support the right of a parent to protect and safeguard their own child? “We’re not banning books,” they say, “we’re not discriminating against gay or transgender children,” conservatives add, “we’re simply protecting the rights of parents to safeguard their children.” That just sounds so much better, doesn’t it?

Clearly, we Americans have a long history of successfully rebranding difficult issues. Or more accurately, I should say that conservatives have a long and successful history of rebranding troubling issues.

Now there are nearly daily news reports about mass shootings. And in nearly every news story there is also someone, a liberal politician or a grieving family member, demanding a solution. More often than not they call for restrictions on access to guns.

“Mass Shooting” has such a negative connotation, particularly when paired with “Mass Casualties.” The term is scary, and frankly it almost seems as if the biased liberal media has coined the term to embarrass gun rights advocates, and to make them look callous and uncaring. This must change.

I’ve batted the idea around in my mind for a while now, trying to come up with something more palatable or benign. And I think I’ve finally got it. Here’s my proposal.

Let’s changed “Mass Shooting” to “Second Amendment Celebration.” That shifts the tone from scary to laudatory, and when people hear about it (for example on Twitter at the hashtag “Active Shooter”) it will put a smile on their faces. They will know that somewhere a true patriot is expressing his God-given Constitutional right. This will also change the unwilling victim (“victim” is another downer of a word) from a casualty to a patriot, since they are nobly sacrificing their lives to preserve one of the primary rights in our revered Constitution.

This way, at each mass shooting… sorry, old habits die hard… at each Second Amendment Celebration, Americans can be reminded of what the Second Amendment means to all of us.

MICHAEL COBLENZ is an attorney and writer from Lexington, Kentucky. He has recently completed a book about the damaging impact of the culture wars on American politics.