Monday, April 9, 2018

My Address at UMW's 2A Day

So, first the bad news:  I didn't record it. I was going to record it; I had the digital recorder with me; but for whatever reason, I forgot I had it and left it in my purse instead of taking it to the podium and turning it on.

Sure, I've got the speech written down and it wouldn't take a lot of work to post it here, but I got to thinking:
  • If I keep copying my speeches here, then that means I will either have to write a new speech every time I'm asked to speak before a group (which gets tiresome), or risk people becoming irritated that they "aren't getting their money's worth" if I recycle an old one.
  • However, if I don't post that speech here, then I can re-use it (with some tweaks for my audience's demographic and updates to keep it relevant) over and over again, and only the people who had seen my other speeches would be irritated... and let's face it, if you're a big enough fan that you come to see me speak multiple times then you're doing it because you think I am awesome and not because my speeches are awesome. 
Which isn't to say I'll never post a speech here again. If I speak at Gun Rights Policy Conference this year, for example, I'll certainly post the video. I'm just keeping this one in reserve. That said, let me tell you about 2A Day at University of Mary Washington.

The short version of a very long chain of events is this:
  • Natalie Johns, the young lady who created the UMW Firearms Club, invited me to speak at her event. I said yes, then told Cam Edwards that I'd be in the area, and would he be interested in 1) interviewing me and 2) doing a segment on UMW's 2A Day?
  • He said yes, and he invited both Natalie and myself to appear on his show. Natalie then went one step further and invited Cam to speak at the event, and he said yes because he's a great guy and he's never spoken at a university before. 
  • He tweeted about it to his 32,000 followers, and because he's an employee of the NRA they tweeted about it to their 642,000 followers, and the university promptly began to freak out. This is because the event was originally scheduled to be held in an auditorium that would only hold 115 people and they didn't know if many, many more NRA people would come listen to him talk, and they didn't want to turn people away. So the day before the event, it was moved to a much larger auditorium that could hold 1,500 people. 
  • This unfortunately turned out to be wishful thinking, as the number of attendees was very small, and looked much smaller in such a large auditorium. Natalie, who is as close to Twilight Sparkle as a person can get (and I mean that as a compliment) was devastated by the lack of turnout. At the beginning of the event (the NRA University presentation), she texted me with a distraught "There are more police here than attendees!"
  • If I had to blame anything, I'd say it was a combination of "liberal campus", "even held on Friday when most students would rather be partying for the weekend", and "rainy weather kept the undecided folks away". 
  • When I arrived to do my speech, Natalie came up to me and in apologetic tones said something to the effect of "The good news is that we've doubled our attendance. The bad news is that they're all people who have objected to and protested against this event, so be prepared." I nodded, and expected a lot of heckling or disruption in the manner of Trigglypuff
  • That didn't happen, though. The new attendees (who occupied the front two rows) were quiet during my speech. I don't know how much of it they listened to, because they were texting a lot on their phones, but they didn't disrupt anything. 
  • My presentation was all right, I guess. The speech was written well, but in terms of delivery, I could have done a lot better. I'm a natural pacer, so when I was given the opportunity to use a remote mic instead of one attached to the podium, I took the remote. This would have worked fine, if I had more practice with the damn thing and had my speech memorized. I didn't, so I had to have my tablet in one hand and the mic in the other, which meant I ended up gesturing with them, which meant that I looked like I was using props. It also meant I didn't have consistent voice levels because I wasn't bringing the mic back to the same place each time. 
  • Ugh. I'll do better next time, I promise. 
  • After I finished my presentation, there was a Q&A period. The people in front seemed irritated that I, a queer person, was somehow affiliated with the NRA, which they felt was toxic and hateful towards queer people. I tried to answer their questions as best I could, but it seemed like they wouldn't be satisfied with anything less than a total denunciation of the NRA as the next version of the KKK, which I refused to do. They left unhappy, but other than that denunciation (which I wasn't going to do) I can't think of anything I could have said or done which would have made them happy. They filed out not long after that.
  • Cam gave an amazing speech. He really knocked it out of the park. I don't know if he had it memorized, or made it up on the spot, or was just really good at making it seem like he wasn't looking at notes, but regardless he gave a good performance with an excellent message. This is what happens when you get a professional to speak, folks, and next to him I look like Schmucky the Clown. 
  • Then there was a Q&A session, where I got to sit between Cam Edwards and the gentleman who runs the NRA Shooting Range. I felt like I was a kid at the grownup table, but everyone was happy to have me around and actually listened to, and built off of, what I said. I don't recall all of what was said, but here's what I remember:
    • Someone in the Firearms Club apologized for the people who gave me a hard time, saying he didn't know they were going to be so rude. I said "Oh, honey, they were being polite. They didn't make any personal attacks at all!" This came as a surprise to most of the students, but the other speakers just nodded. 
    • Someone asked us what guns we carried. I'm the only one who listed the brand of defensive ammo I use. 
    • The topic of "What can we do to protect our rights?" was brought up, and my response is to capitalize on the fun of shooting guns. Anti-gunners never seem to have any fun and instead appear to be uptight and scolding sorts. You never hear about anyone going to the not-shooting range and having fun not-shooting, but we all know about the New Shooter Grin. We need more people to know how fun freedom can be, because people who have fun shooting guns usually end up buying them, and gun owners almost always become gun voters
  • Also, Cargosquid came to see me and brought his daughter along! Hi, Squiddie, it was great seeing you! Hugs to you and your daughter. 

Taken just after the panel finished. 

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