Taking Aim At The Bullshit
April 16, 2015
Oscar Wilde, the Irish playwright and poet once said, "No good deed goes unpunished" and damn, was he right.
Ask Tim McGraw if he agrees with Oscar. McGraw is receiving a large and unfair ration of shit this week after announcing he'll play a July 17th show benefitting Sandy Hook Promise, an organization founded after the 2012 tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, CT.
It happened almost three years ago -- a near eternity in today's news cycle, but for anyone who has somehow forgotten, on December 14th of that year, 20-year-old Adam Lanza went on a shooting spree that claimed the lives of 20 children and six adults.
McGraw's connection to that horrible day comes via his fiddle player, Dean Brown, who is close friends with Mark Barden, parent to seven-year-old Daniel, one of the 20 younger victims.
So, a superstar agreeing to play a benefit show is all well and good; perfectly aligned with Country artist's usual willingness to help a charity, right? And McGraw is experienced in that department, having spearheaded -- among other numerous causes -- a November 2010 benefit called "Nashville Rising," following history-making rain and floods in Nashville earlier that year.
No problems here, correct?
Apparently yes there are, as overzealous gun rights supporters quickly took to the blogosphere and social media and ran with the story, repositioning the Sandy Hook benefit as a "gun control fundraiser" while labeling McGraw a hypocrite, since his current tour is called "Shotgun Rider." That's also the name of a #1 single from McGraw's latest album and has absolutely nothing to do with firearms, but rather the term derived from "Riding Shotgun," or sitting next to the driver of a vehicle.
But hey, way to take something completely out of context to make your point.
A piece in The Washington Post linked to several blogs supportive of gun rights, taking McGraw to task. One, called "Bearing Arms," issued this declarative statement: "This decision is not going to be received well by McGraw's Country music fan base, which overwhelmingly supports gun rights."
Billy Currington was originally scheduled to play the July benefit too, but opted out after being drawn into the controversy, posting on his Facebook page, "I've never been one to take on controversial issues — I'm a singer. I do feel strongly about honoring and supporting the Sandy Hook community and will be making a donation to a local organization."
But McGraw is defiantly still all in, answering critics with this statement to the Washington Post: "Let me be clear regarding the concert for Sandy Hook given much of the erroneous reporting thus far. As a gun owner, I support gun ownership. I also believe that with gun ownership comes the responsibility of education and safety — most certainly when it relates to what we value most, our children. I can't imagine anyone who disagrees with that." McGraw went on to say, "Through a personal connection, I saw first-hand how the Sandy Hook tragedy affected families, and I felt their pain. The concert is meant to do something good for a community that is recovering."
Listen. Issues like gun control, abortion, religion, gay marriage, and others are so divisive, and we'll never reach consensus on any of them. I usually steer way clear, because I'm not informed or educated enough to chime in, and frankly, anything I say will probably piss off at least half the people who read or hear it.
But jeez -- an artist wants to lend his talents and appeal to an organization and community still reeling after a horrific, history-making tragedy that took the lives of 20 children. Repeat: CHILDREN.
And McGraw is a bad guy for doing that? Really?
Sorry. That doesn't register with me. And while gun activists have every right to their position, this tactic reeks of bandwagon jumpers, using a famous artist and a story with at least six degrees of separation to their cause as a vehicle for their own politically motivated initiatives, whether they like Country music or know anything about Tim McGraw in the first place.
It's wrong, it's unfair, and I'm calling bullshit.
Good on McGraw for showing brass balls, agreeing to do the concert and holding his ground. I hope the show raises a ton of money for Sandy Hook Promise and members of the Sandy Hook Elementary School community.