The Thing About Ethan Klein's 'Joke' About Bombing the NRA Conference

(AP Photo/Mike Stewart File)

The National Rifle Association’s conference in Houston, Texas, would be considered by many to be “ill-timed” given it’s a gun rights conference occurring directly after the mass shooting of 19 innocent children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas, but it’s not. The truth is that the NRA had nothing to do with the shooting, and love them or hate them, pinning a crime on innocent people is generally frowned upon in a free state.

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Popular podcaster Ethan Klein of the “H3” podcast is one such person who believes that this is somehow the fault of the NRA, or that the organization has some part in the blame. According to Klein, and those who believe as he does, standing up for gun rights makes one as guilty as the shooter through enablement.

It’s a very shallow take. A lot of failures went into creating this mass shooting, but gun laws weren’t one of them. Lack of mental health resources, failure of law enforcement, and bad contingencies for schools against school shooters were the main components. In fact, the introduction of more guns in the hands of those willing to defend themselves would have solved this problem. Either way, the NRA did not encourage or facilitate this shooting. You might as well blame the Food Network for America’s obesity rates.

But Klein, like many, seems to be unable to make the distinction between those who support legal, responsible, and knowledgeable gun ownership and mass shooters who ignore all of that. As such, Klein mentioned the NRA conference happening in Houston and suggested that it be bombed.

He quickly walked it back, then continued to make more and more jokes about how everyone in that building should be “killed with kindness.”

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It was a suggestion from Klein that resulted in a nine-day ban from YouTube.

Klein, and those who remain in his ever-dwindling fanbase, have tried to write this off as a joke, but let’s be clear…he wasn’t joking. What Klein said was a moment where he wasn’t thinking and he was a lot more honest than he intended to be.

If Klein had immediately walked that back and made it clear that he doesn’t want innocents to get hurt, apologized for his words, and then moved on then I would have a bit more sympathy for him. People say and do dumb things in moments of passion that they don’t really mean all the time. It doesn’t make it right, but at least Klein would have exhibited self-awareness and humility at that moment.

Instead, he hid behind qualifiers and scenarios it was clear he didn’t mean. The joke is that he thought people would buy that it’s a joke.

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Klein is demonstrating a lot of stupidity here. For one, he seems to be wholly ignorant of the conservative position on all of this. Ever since the shooting, conservatives have been demanding changes but they’re hardly acknowledged because they don’t involve supporting goals that can’t be accomplished such as making the AR-15 disappear or buckling down on more gun restrictions that will do nothing to stop gun crime.

Furthermore, if I said “I want to kill every single person at the DNC” and then quickly said “just kidding, I want to bomb them with love” or I said “let’s kill every single one of those mother f***ers with kindness in Minecraft” as Klein did, then there wouldn’t be an end to the people making it clear that I was just using those qualifiers as phrases to protect me from legal trouble or crossing social media’s TOS.

Moreover, Klein has made his pattern pretty clear. If someone like myself, Jeremey from The Quartering, Tim Pool, or Razorfist said anything like the above phrase then Klein would have spent his show ranting and raving about how this was the perfect example of how deranged and dangerous the right is.

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He wouldn’t be acknowledging it as a “joke” and he knows it.

Klein won’t get that treatment. While I don’t think Klein would be psychotic enough to bomb or shoot anyone, it’s not a thing one goes around suggesting because there are people out there that would, and they’ve done it.

I’ve always been the first guy to stand up and defend edgy humor, and I don’t ever want to get worked up over things that are just jokes, but it was clearly not a joke. Klein tried to play it off as one, but only half-heartedly.

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