Warning: This question is prompted by the recent events at Sandy Hook Elementary School. While it's not directly related to those particular events, but how we as a community can react sensitively to similar ones, it may nevertheless be distressing to some people. If that's likely to be the case for you, you may want to stop reading at this point.
Although I'm sure everyone here fervently hopes otherwise, it's likely that at some point during the life of politics.se, distressing events likely to cause emotionally charged political debate in the public sphere will occur.
Some political questions, as we're all aware, are the focus of very strong opinions on each side. As and when the site goes public, it will be challenging for our community as a whole, and our moderators in particular, to handle such questions appropriately, even at the best of times.
I'm not going to express an opinion on whether now is the right time for a public conversation in the United States about firearms law. I'm not a US citizen, and it's not my place to do so. I do, however, believe that politics.se is not the right place for such a conversation right now, if at all.
However, we do not exist in a vacuum. When a seemingly inexplicable tragedy strikes, people seek answers - and Stack Exchange exists to provide answers - which means that when people go looking for them, some of those people will find us, and, in their hurt, their questions may be awkwardly phrased.
The standard response of an SE community when a question is asked that we consider not constructive is to flag it as such - which normally works well - but when someone is hurt and seeking answers, being told that their attempt to find them is "not constructive" is likely to cause further hurt.
I'm not sure exactly what we can do about this, but I think we have a responsibility to consider how we can help, rather than harm, in such a situation.
I do have one suggestion on how we might seek to address this problem, but I don't know whether it's technically feasible, or for that matter whether it's how other members of our community would wish to address it.
It may be the case that Stack Exchange has a profanity filter. Since I've never to my recollection attempted to utter a profanity here, I don't know whether that's the case - but if it does, perhaps it would be possible, for a period following an event of the type I'm talking about, to modify it so that it catches the kinds of words and phrases likely to occur in a provocative (if most likely not intended to be so) question relating to the event in question, and displays a polite notice explaining that politics.se is not taking questions at this time on that subject, out of respect for those involved.
I know that many people object in principle to what might be seen as censorship (something on which I'm also not going to offer my own opinion right now), but it seems to me that a response along those lines might be one way we can reduce the possibility of causing further distress in times when that's the last thing any of us would want to do.
I'd appreciate any other opinions on this subject people have to offer. I'd also like to apologise if anyone finds this question inappropriate. I hope it's clear that that's not my intention.