If there’s one thing the U.S.’ epidemic of gun violence has taught us, it’s that immediately after a massacre is no time to talk about guns. And as far as the Country Music Association is concerned, more than a month after 58 people were murdered at a Jason Aldean show in Las Vegas is still too soon.
According to media guidlines issued for Sunday’s CMA Awards and first reported by Rolling Stone, journalists who ask questions about “the Las Vegas tragedy, gun rights, political affiliations or topics of the like” risk having their credentials revoked “via security escort,” which seems like a not-especially-subtle way of saying they’ll be thrown out.
“It’s vital, more so this year than in year’s [sic] past due to the sensitivities at hand, that the CMA Awards be a celebration of Country Music and the artists that make this genre so great,” the media guidelines say. “It’s an evening to honor the outstanding achievements in Country Music of the previous year and we want everyone to feel comfortable talking to press about this exciting time.”
In the wake of the Las Vegas shooting, Aldean and many other country stars expressed their grief on social media, and musician Caleb Keeter, who had performed earlier in the day and was still present when the gunshots began, publicly recanted his previous stance against firearms regulation with a message that read, in part, “We need gun control RIGHT. NOW.” Maren Morris, who won Best New Artist at the CMAs last year, wrote and recorded a song with country veteran Vince Gill called “Dear Hate,” pledging its proceeds to the victims of the shooting. But that’s not the song Morris will perform on Sunday’s broadcast, which if the CMA has its way will feature nothing but boilerplate offerings of thoughts and prayers, and certainly no challenge to mainstream country music’s role in glamorizing gun culture. There will be some other time to talk about that, preferably once people have forgotten why it matters.
Update, November 3: The CMAs have lifted the restrictions after a public outcry, including this tweet from country star Brad Paisley.