I have been invited to to give many talks to various organizations. Since I am not famous, it is not clear how many will turn up for the talk. It all depends on how much effort the hosts put into generating interest. Sometimes the audience has been as few as about five people and this can be a little disconcerting if you have traveled a long way to give the talk, especially if the venue is a large auditorium and you are looking out at a sea of empty seats. But the show must go on and I still give it my best shot. The few people who have taken the trouble to come and listen to me, even if it were just a single person, deserve nothing less.
But I have never, ever spoken to a completely empty venue where not even the people who invited me were in the audience. If that were the case, I would have suspected that there was something seriously wrong. So I am mystified as to why a former president of the National Rifle Association went ahead and gave his talk to 3,044 empty chairs.
A YouTube video shows David Keene, two-time president of the National Rifle Association, donning a cap and gown to speak to thousands of students from James Madison Academy on their graduation day.
Keene asks the students to uphold the second amendment that their school’s namesake James Madison took part in drafting.
But when the camera pans, there is a haunting scene of thousands of empty white chairs – 3,044 to be exact – with no students to fill them. These represent the seniors from this year’s graduating class who died from gun violence. The school is not a real one.
The gun safety organization Change the Ref released a series of videos on Wednesday in which advocates tricked pro-gun figures into addressing empty chairs representing high school youths shot and killed before they could graduate.
When NBC News called Keene’s home, a woman answered and declined to comment on the videos.
Surely he had to realize that he had been pranked?