It seems like a relatively uncontroversial proposition that civilized human beings ought not commit battery on one another for reasons of politics. Yet that seemingly basic notion – one that we teach small children before they hit kindergarten age – has now been immediately discarded by a significant number of supposed conservatives, people who proclaim their values from the rooftops but then abandon them when it comes time to speak up against their heretofore political allies.
How else to explain the bizarre reaction of some on the right to the story that Montana Congressional candidate Greg Gianforte had gone full The Rock on Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs, allegedly giving him The People’s Elbow?
First, people suggested that Jacobs was lying, despite witnesses and audiotape of the incident (yes, this sounds familiar). Then, when it became clear that Jacobs wasn’t lying, some on the right shifted into pure defense of Gianforte – did he really do anything so wrong? Others focused on whataboutism – hey, don’t Democrats do bad stuff all the time?
That reaction certainly isn’t coming from a place of common decency. It’s coming from the fact that an id has been freed in the mind of the right, and the superego has been sublimated to that id.
Support for Gianforte has broken down into three categories.
1. We Need More Macho! This is a variation of the old “he fights” silliness regarding President Trump. The same folks who celebrated when Trump stated during the campaign that he would pay for the legal bills of those who had physical altercations with protesters, who cheered when Trump and his team lied about Corey Lewandowski grabbing a reporter hard enough to bruise her, who reveled in Trump’s tough talking machismo, are now reveling in Gianforte’s ersatz primal masculinity. Leading the pack: Trump sycophant Laura Ingraham.
Politicians always need to keep their cool. But what would most Montana men do if "body slammed" for no reason by another man?— Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) May 25, 2017
So the problem, according to Ingraham, is that Gianforte is just Too Much Man.
Very cool. pic.twitter.com/76SghPJXGY— Jon Lovett (@jonlovett) May 25, 2017
You see? Only a wimp would call the cops after being bodyslammed by a Congressional candidate.
This sort of stuff isn’t worthy of baseline value-based behavior, let alone conservatism.
2. Reactionary Tribalism. But the left! That’s been the second response today. The left routinely signs off on bad behavior! Where were they when Teddy Kennedy drowned a woman? Where were they when Bill Clinton was sexually harassing the help? Yes, all of that is true. It also doesn’t justify bad behavior. Another kindergarten lesson: just because other people did something bad doesn’t mean it’s okay because you did something bad. Come on, people.
3. Hatred Of The Media. Then there’s the notion that Gianforte body-slamming a reporter is fine because reporters deserve it. This is perhaps the most common excuse on Thursday – reporters are aggressive, mean, and biased. A few body-slams wouldn’t hurt them. As a caller to Rush Limbaugh’s show put it, “If every republican candidate in the country picked up a reporter and threw them to the ground, it would increase my chances exponentially of voting for them…if they wanted to pick up a reporter and slam them, I would donate until I was bankrupt…I am openly advocating inflicting pain, but maybe it’s for the greater good…The more reporters get thrown down, we might get better reporting.” You see, reporters lie, so we can beat them up. These same people will cry “snowflake” at Antifa for attempting to shut down debate with violence. Here’s the deal: the media lie. They are biased. They ask unfair questions. That’s all within the boundaries of behavior that doesn’t demand a violent response.
It profits a man nothing to give his soul for the world…but for a Congressional seat in Montana, guys?