It’s been just over 24 hours since America learned of the latest mass shooting at the offices of the Capital Gazette newspaper Annapolis, Maryland, and already Republican politicians and prominent figures in the right wing media are tripping over themselves with their responses.
President Donald Trump offered up an empty expression of “thoughts and prayers” on Twitter. Trump loyalist Sean Hannity name dropped Maxine Waters in every sentence he used to discuss the massacre in Maryland on his primetime Fox News show. Senator Marco Rubio took a different tack and decided to ignore the tragedy altogether, choosing instead to criticize the media for using the “F” word more frequently.
But the prize for Most Tone-Deaf Statement Following A Mass Shooting goes to Idaho State Representative Priscilla Giddings. The Idaho Republican Party is holding their state convention in Pocatello, and students from a nearby university decided to show up and demonstrate.
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It seems Rep. Giddings handled the situation well on the ground. She engaged with the students, who were very peaceful, according to all accounts. She even took a photo with them.
When she got on Facebook to post the photo, however, the whole thing went sideways. She decided that this encounter with these young women just a day after a tragic mass shooting was the perfect time to, well, we’re not exactly sure what she thinks she’s accomplishing here.
Students came to peacefully protest the Idaho State GOP Convention. Rep. Priscilla Giddings took a picture with them and posted it to FB with the following caption: pic.twitter.com/zbjLySRtbP
— Anne Helen Petersen (@annehelen) June 29, 2018
“Idaho State University Student peacefully protesting our Republican convention,” her post begins. So far so good. But then she added, “Do you think I should show these girls the empty 30mm shell I have in my truck?”
Is it a joke meant to lighten a heavy situation? Is it a defiant, in your face pro-gun salute timed for maximum attention? Or is it an outright threat meant to intimidate these young protesters in order to impress other gun rights radicals?
No one really knows. Whatever it is, the timing could not be worse, and the sentiment under any circumstances is a cheap shot at best, and brazenly crass at worst.