Smash Mouth joined the chorus of musicians speaking out about the twin mass shootings over the weekend in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, that took the lives of 29 and injured dozens more after two men opened fire with military-style assault weapons on unsuspecting crowds in a downtown entertainment district and a crowded Walmart.
Only instead of taking politicians or Pres. Trump to task for their years-long inaction on gun control legislation, the “All-Star” band — known for their Twitter irreverence — focused their ire on famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Following the two assaults within 13 hours, Tyson tweeted out a series of statistics, seemingly attempting to put the loss of life in mathematical perspective. “In the past 48 hrs, the USA horrifically lost 34 people to mass shootings,” he wrote. “On average, across any 48hrs, we also lose…” at which point he gave figures on medical errors, the flu, suicide, car accidents and homicide via handgun, writing, “often our emotions respond more to spectacle than to data.”
The band had a very simple response:
FUCK OFF!!!! There’s your data!!!!
— Smash Mouth (@smashmouth) August 4, 2019
On Monday morning (Aug. 5) Tyson posted a longer tweet reacting to those who’d called him to task for his initial comments. “My intent was to offer objectively true information that might help shape conversations and reactions to preventable ways we die,” he wrote. “Where I miscalculated was that I genuinely believed the Tweet would be helpful to anyone trying to save lives in America. What I learned from the range of reactions is that for many people, some information –-my Tweet in particular — can be true but unhelpful, especially at a time when many people are either still in shock, or trying to heal – or both.”
The Dayton massacre was carried out by a 24 year-old man reportedly armed with a .223-caliber assault-style rifle, body armor, a mask, ear protection and extra magazines capable of firing up to 100 rounds. It was the 251st mass shooting of the the year so far. Additionally, the nine killed — which included the gunman’s sister — made it the deadliest mass shooting in Ohio in more than 13 years.
At press time, Trump made his first public statement about the two shootings following a series of tweets in the 48 hours after the incidents, offering thoughts and prayers from himself and First Lady Melania, announcing that flags would be flown at half-staff amid yet another push promoting what he called “desperately needed immigration reform.” Monday morning’s White House comments focused on violence in video games, the internet, mental health and a condemnation of “racism, bigotry and white supremacy,” after Trump earlier suggested in a tweet that any effort to reboot long-delayed passage of “strong background checks” could be tied to immigration reform.
The horrifying violence brought out strong reactions from a number of artists, including Cardi B, John Legend, Brandi Carlile, Bebe Rexha and Chuck D, with Rihanna pointedly calling out Trump over his response to the shootings, writing, “Imagine a world where it’s easier to get an AK-47 than a VISA! Imagine a world where they build a wall to keep terrorists IN AMERICA!!! My prayers and deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of all the victims from Texas, California, and Ohio! I’m so sorry for your loss! Nobody deserves to die like this! NOBODY!”
Blink-182 postponed their planned concert in El Paso on Sunday following in “solidarity with the community,” which was shaken amid reports that the alleged shooter left behind a rambling manifesto that tagged the slaughter as a “response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas,” using troubling anti-immigrant language that The New York Times reported “echoes” the hate-filled, divisive rhetoric often used by Trump in his public comments on immigration.