Stop branding tragedies

There was yet another school shooting in the US. This time, in Uvalde, Texas. The frequency in which these happen in the US is horrific. But another trend that has emerged over the years is incredibly gross. The branding of these, and any other tragedy.

The Uvalde shooting took place on a Tuesday of this week. I saw a picture in the news of someone wearing a “Uvalde Strong” t-shirt today. It’s only Thursday.

I’m not questioning the person wearing the shirt. I’m wondering what kind of ghoul is behind the shirt. I don’t care if the shirts are free. The thought of someone cranking out something as insipid as a screen printed t-shirt just shows fucked up and normalized violence and tragedy have become in our society.

Defending this opportunism as honoring the victims is crass and as cliched as bolting the word “strong” after your town’s name. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not asking people to be more clever. I’m asking them to stop. When really awful things happen, like a mass shooting, or a natural disaster, the list of things one can do to help victims and their family is long. Making a t-shirt shouldn’t even crack the top 1000.

A community’s ability to survive a preventable tragedy isn’t something we should be celebrating. It just provides cover for those who are ultimately responsible. The sooner we reduce it to a slogan, then sooner we can relegate it to the past where nothing can be changed.