NRA Message ≠ An “It City”

I’ve lived in Nashville for 30 years. When I first moved here from Los Angeles, I got the usual digs from friends and colleagues: “You’re moving to .. NASHVILLE? Do they have indoor plumbing there?” Ha ha so funny.

For years Nashville has had an image problem. Our reputation was that of a hayseed, redneck, corn-pone town. And damn but we worked hard to overcome that. Years of work and effort by Nashville’s Chamber of Commerce, CVB, music industry, etc. to project an image of a modern, progressive city that was more than country music, more than hay bales and bare feet and bib overalls. More than Hee Haw and Opryland and big hair.

It’s paid off: we’re an “It City” now, with a thriving foodie scene, bustling nightlife, a center for tech and all kinds of music. Young people are coming here in droves. Heck, even Jack White lives here. And I just can’t help but think that’s all been undone now that the NRA is coming to town and blanketing our public spaces with their extremist messages.

And I do mean blanket. Here’s our brand-new convention center, sporting ginormous banners gloating about how the NRA bullied the ATF into backing down on a proposed ban on cop-killer bullets:


I like the green “blood,” or whatever that is. Note the message: “If they can ban one, they can ban them all.”

Here’s another one, which to my mind references the Stand Your Ground laws they’ve foisted on the nation:


“Stand and Fight”? What planet do these people live on? There is similar signage at the Nashville airport. I asked the airport authority why blatant political messaging was allowed and this is the response I received:

The Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority posts welcome signs for the NRA on the screens above the escalators going to baggage claim, which is the same courtesy welcome that we provide for all groups sanctioned by the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation.   Any other signage seen in the airport was purchased as advertisements.

Emphasis mine. Are there any standards for such signage? If the KKK were to have an international event, could they purchase advertising at the airport?

This is the largest convention the city of Nashville has ever hosted. We’re going to get all the Republican presidential candidates here, plus the Sarah Palins and other far-right nutjobs. There will be national media, who may or may not be perplexed at how out of step the NRA is in Nashville, a swatch of deep, deep blue in a very red state.

This is not Nashville. This does not represent who we are, what we believe, or how we live. And it’s an embarrassment to the city. I cannot imagine what the Nashville CVB and Chamber were thinking.

Well, I know what they were thinking. They were thinking, “we won this hard-fought battle to foist the Music City Center on an unwilling and skeptical public, now we need to show something for it.”

You see, as I wrote back in 2010 (“Music City Center Blues“), the new convention center, while beautiful, is not a financially viable operation. And it will never be a financially viable operation. As I wrote at the time:

Last night I heard the same “trickle down” fairy tales we’ve been told for years about these kinds of massive projects. Somehow the economic impact of a new convention center (or arena, or football stadium, or symphony hall, etc. etc.) will “trickle down” like fairy dust on the entire county.

Don’t get me wrong: I love the arena, I’m a huge Nashville Predators fan, and Mr. Beale and I have been to many Titans games. I moved here in 1986 and I well remember what downtown Nashville used to look like. So yes, the past 20 years have seen some wonderful changes to our city, positive changes.

Yet every year our schools budget is cut to the bone. This year Metro Public Works laid off employees and cut back on things like cutting the grass in the public right-of-way, making some intersections in my neighborhood rather dangerous. The Green Hills Library was closed on Fridays, and now it looks like more cuts are likely.

In other words: we have these wonderful downtown facilities like a stadium and an arena and we still have the same budget issues we’ve always had. So don’t tell me that all of the business from a new convention center is going to have a positive economic impact on my neighborhood because I haven’t seen it yet.

There simply are not that many conventions that bring 80 bazillion people to town. There just aren’t. And so we grabbed the NRA convention right from the get-go, and look what we get: a black eye. A bunch of nativist, recidivist, far-right extremists blasting a partisan message and completely undermining the years of work that’s been done to change the city’s image.

Slow clap.


Filed under Guns, Nashville

17 responses to “NRA Message ≠ An “It City”

  1. Shutter

    But what about the indoor plumbing question?

    • Ha ha. Well MOST of the time we have indoor plumbing, except the frequent times we have water main breaks, or after the Nashville flood when the water treatment plant was shut down.

      We’ll get there …

  2. Kosh III

    “I cannot imagine what the Nashville CVB and Chamber were thinking.”

    You know: money for me and my corporate cronies. If someone gets shot? so what?

  3. Moira MacGaothin

    The NRA doesn’t care about Nashvillians as people. They only care about you as gun buyers.

  4. screech

    I’m 72 and have never bought a gun and I never will. Ever. I hate these amosexual right wing assholes with every fiber of my body.

  5. Eykis

    YEEHAW – very sophisticated ammosexuals…..criminy.

  6. My deepest sympathy. I would love to visit Nashville. Those banners remind me of Munich in the 1930s.

    God is sending his cleansing rain to purge you of the evil. He speaks his wrath with thunder.

  7. Mary L. Wilson

    I sent the quote from Casada to FB…..that accidental shootings are just like bike or car wrecks…an act of God…and I keep reminding the local yokels that business will leave and NOT locate here with guns on every park bench, worn by village idiots!!

  8. I was sitting down the bar from some Texasses the other night, listening to one telling his buds that they set a limit on how many gunz you kin haz in NY. That he’s completely full of shit is worth noting.

  9. Jim in Memphis

    So SB you think a company that offers to sell advertising space to the public should be able to decide which groups can purchase advertising space from them?

    • Well, a) they do, all the damn time, all across the country, as the billboard is their property, and if you were paying attention you’d be aware of several very prominent cases where political messages on billboards were refused or accepted, causing controversy (Google is your friend), but also
      b) this is not a company selling advertising space to the public it’s THE GOVERNMENT. The Music City Center is not privately owned and the Metro Nashville Airport AUthority is a quasi-government agency. Government = you and me, not some fucking building somewhere. It’s the people.

      • Jim in Memphis

        So you think the government should be able to discriminate on who they do business with? Say if Planned Parenthood wanted to have a convention in Nashville. Should they be able to purchase advertising from the airport or should the airport be free to not accept their business?

      • Well, they do all the time. And Planned Parenthood is a really bad example for you because the legislature in TN and elsewhere and the U.S. Congress have tried, and been successful in some cases, to pass laws preventing the government from doing any business with Planned Parenthood. So that happens. Google is your friend, I repeat.

        But ignoring the reality, if Planned Parenthood had a convention in Nashville (which will never happen because if it did the state legislature would pass a law banning such a thing) and wanted to buy blatantly political and controversial advertisements, then I imagine there would be a huge outcry. Private billboard companies have already refused Planned Parenthood ads, let me add.

        But it’s really stupid to argue these straw man arguments. Planned Parenthood is a convenient boogey man for you because you’re anti-woman and anti-choice, but it’s really backfired on you because Republicans have discriminated against PP, horribly. And you’re trying to discuss something that HAS happened by comparing it to something that hasn’t happened. There is no “Planned Parenthood Abortion Conference.” There’s no such thing. I mean, trying to compare the two just shows how shallow and one-dimensional your political worldview is.

      • dear sb, you must not follow the legislature here much or you would realize that yes, this is our town and our state. i don;t care if you eat roadkill but it irritates me that we passed a law that you can. you can still go to PRISON here for not too much weed. you can carry a gun into a bar, a sporting event, or a church. but you cannot access insurance unless you already have money, health and youth. the NRA being here? it is a perfect fit for what tennessee has become.

      • Tennessee, maybe. Nashville? No. That’s the point of the post. All the time, effort and energy spent trying to change the world’s opinion of Nashville so we can draw employers and tourists, convince them that Nashville is NOT Tennessee. And all that’s been tossed out the window.

        Why don’t you like the roadkill bill? I thought the point of that was so if you hit a deer on the highway, you can keep the meat.

  10. “I mean, trying to compare the two just shows how shallow and one-dimensional your political worldview is.”

    Not that there has been any doubt of Jimbo(b)’s Teabaggist bona fides for a while now.