In the wake of Uvalde, here are 3 things Texas Republicans would rather talk about than gun reform

Instead of talking about guns, Texas GOP officials would rather obsess about drag shows for kids, Twitter bots and a sort-of apology from NASCAR.

click to enlarge Members of law enforcement lay flowers at a makeshift memorial outside Robb Elementary School. - Joseph Guillen
Joseph Guillen
Members of law enforcement lay flowers at a makeshift memorial outside Robb Elementary School.
Following high-profile mass shootings, Republican lawmakers have traditionally adopted a three step approach: blame things other than guns, try to change the subject and run down the clock until another tragedy dominates the news cycle.

Don't believe us? Rolling Stone recently parsed memos from GOP strategists spelling out that same approach following the Uvalde tragedy.

After first failing to quell outrage about the Robb Elementary School shooting by blaming mental health, a lack of armed teachers and schoolhouses with more than one door, a spate of announcements from Texas GOP lawmakers suggest we've now moved on to phase two.

Below are some of the issues of outrage that Texas Republicans have seized upon rather than debate gun reforms after a gunman's rampage ended the lives of 19 school children and two of their teachers.

1. Drag shows for kids.

After a Dallas gay bar invited parents and their kids to a family-friendly drag performance last weekend, drawing a mob of unruly homophobes, State Rep. Bryan Slaton, R-Royse City, pledged to ban kiddies from drag shows.

So great was Slaton's outrage that he revealed on Twitter he plans to file legislation during the next legislative session. (You know, the regular session in 2023, not the one Gov. Greg Abbott has refused to call to address gun violence.)

“As a father of two young children, I would never take my children to a drag show and I know … the rest of my Republican colleagues wouldn’t either,” Slaton said in the tweet still pinned to the top of his account. “Protecting our own children isn’t enough, and our responsibility as lawmakers extends to the sexualization that is happening across Texas.”

No word on whether Slaton's bill would prohibit kids from being able to watch movies such as Mrs. Doubtfire, Hairspray or Some Like It Hot on TV, or whether the touring production of Tootsie will still be allowed to admit minors.

2. Twitter bots
Since the Uvalde massacre, the first substantial action by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton hasn't been a move to keep firearms away from homicidal people or even a probe of a how police handled — or didn't handle — the crisis. Instead, the state's top law-enforcement official announced Monday that he's investigating Twitter to get to the bottom of how many bot and spam accounts it has.

In a statement, the Republican AG argued that bots "reduce the quality of users’ experience" on the while jacking up the "value of the company and the costs of doing business with it."

That latter part sure sounds like it's crafted for an audience of one. Newly Texan tech bro Elon Musk — the current subject of a Texas GOP infatuation — is trying to buy Twitter and has publicly complained that the platform wouldn't give up data he's requested on fake users.

Good to know Paxton's sticking up for the state's little people.

3. NASCAR's sort-of Pride Month apology

Like plenty of other moneymaking enterprises, NASCAR issued a statement at the start of Pride Month about its commitment to the LGBTQ+ community. And in that statement, it added "we acknowledge that recent actions have not aligned with NASCAR’s mission to be a welcoming sport for all.”

While NASCAR didn't spell out which actions those were, a Yahoo article speculated the racing body might have been referring to its decision to let Abbott — who's not exactly a friend to LGBTQ+ Texans — wave the starting flag at its May all-star race.

That was enough to draw a pearl-clutching tweet from State Rep. Matt Shaheen, R-Plano, who demanded that NASCAR, which has received $7.5 million in funding from a state fund used to cover the cost of staging large events.

"[C]an you please define what you mean by 'recent actions'?" Shaheen demanded in a tersely worded letter to NASCAR CEO Brian France. "I look forward to your response."

So, there you go. Three fresh outrages that have nothing to do with guns. It's now up to Texans to decide whether — or how quickly — they move on to phase three of the plan.

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Sanford Nowlin

Sanford Nowlin is editor-in-chief of the San Antonio Current.

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