A tiny group of gun rights advocates quietly spilled some ketchup and played with chalk on a small section of sidewalk in front of a church on UT's campus Saturday during a controversial "mock mass shooting," while more than a dozen counter-demonstrators soaked up most of the media attention by marching around with signs, sex toys and fart-machines, the Houston Chronicle reported.
The careless ketchup-wasting occurred as about 15 gun rights advocates gathered by All Saints Episcopal Church at UT and "shot" "victims" with "guns" made out of cardboard, prompting the "victims" to "bleed" the sweet and tangy tomato-based table sauce. Then the ketchup-drenched "victims" crumpled to the ground, and the remaining demonstrators drew lines around their fallen friends' contorted bodies with white chalk. A shaggy-haired young man in a poorly tailored suit stood in the center of the group, holding up a sign that said "gun free zone." Of course, we only know how this went down because of the group's Facebook page, which uploaded a few photos post-performance.
The pro-gun amateur thespians made the media rounds earlier in the day before taking a lunch break ahead of the mass shooting masterpiece theater, which was originally scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on UT's West Mall. But the main event was largely ignored by the gobs of news crews and reporters on campus — in part because the counter-protesters were simply more entertaining carrying their large dildos and megaphones that made fart noises (fart noises!), but mostly because the gun-rights people pretty much decided that they'd be better off doing the mock shooting at a time and place where they could be left alone to wade in their shallow pools of runny ketchup.
Apparently, the "mock mass shooting" event organizers had planned the last-minute location change well in advance, the Austin Chronicle reported. Looks like this was one of those off-Broadway, off-everything plays.
"I think today was amazing, it illustrated all the points we wanted to get across about the unpredictability and the response time of police," mock mass shooting organizer Murdoch Pizgatti told us in an interview. "I had no issue with [the farters], I think it’s just sad that they did not take the high road. A lot of the anti-protesters were caught up using emotional fiction to guide them. Emotion shouldn't really play into it because the constitution does not give you the right to not feel afraid."
Many counter-protesters were upset when plans for the mock mass shooting were announced last week, since UT is at the center of the campus-carry debate and was also the scene of one of the most infamous mass shootings ever in 1966, when a shooter killed 16 people from the clock tower on campus. UT released a statement last week implying that they would press criminal charges if the gun rights groups followed through on their plan to hold the unauthorized mock mass shooting on campus. The gun rights groups then said they'd move the demonstration off-campus nearby, but ended up doing it on campus anyway.
Counter-protesters responded by mocking the mock mass shooting, carrying large rubbery penises and bullhorns that simulated the sound of loud flatulence. One dildo-wielding demonstrator was dressed up as Santa Claus.
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"I choose to believe that fear is not the solution to the threat of our time," counter-protest organizer and UT alum Andrew Dobbs told the crowd of media and demonstrators, according to the Chron. "That laughing in the face of fear is a courageous act and toting a gun around everywhere you go, maybe not so much. When you come to my community, to the university that I love, and you threaten the lives of my friends, what I have to say is, I'm going to fart in your face!"
The mock mass shooters were unmoved by the smelly and kinky counter-protest as they followed through with their own theatrical display two blocks away (the show must go on, after all). When the mock mass shooting ended, clergy from the church came outside to clean the ketchup and chalk off the sidewalk.
This all just seems like a terrible waste of ketchup.
Andrew King contributed reporting.