Shortly after Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte allegedly attacked a reporter in Montana, some of his supporters began suggesting the real problem was that the reporter, Ben Jacobs, didn’t automatically fight back. Conservative pundit Laura Ingraham tweeted, “But what would most Montana men do if ‘body slammed’ for no reason by another man?”
This kind of macho talk isn’t uncommon. But speaking from personal experience, Reason writer Mike Riggs argued on Twitter that this message is bad for men. As he notes in one of his tweets, “That toughness that people seem to admire from a distance makes people fear you up close.”
Here’s the full thread:
I say this as someone who was much bigger than other humans starting at around age five, and who used his first from an early age.— Mike Riggs (@MikeRiggs) May 25, 2017
By the time I hit adolescence, my aunt told me on day that my family had considered sending me away because if how violent I was.— Mike Riggs (@MikeRiggs) May 25, 2017
It makes people who love you think you are dangerous. Pushing leads to punching, and punching can cause brain damage and facial deformity.— Mike Riggs (@MikeRiggs) May 25, 2017
Our prisons are full of "real men."— Mike Riggs (@MikeRiggs) May 25, 2017
The sons of "real men" grow up to be emotionally stunted, confused, and poor.— Mike Riggs (@MikeRiggs) May 25, 2017
Real men do everything they can to avoid hurting others and themselves. Self-restraint and wisdom are not weak, they are powerful.— Mike Riggs (@MikeRiggs) May 25, 2017
I will never, ever forget the fear I inspired in the eyes of my mother, my little brother, and my classmates. The memory of it makes me ill.— Mike Riggs (@MikeRiggs) May 25, 2017
That any of this needs to be said is alarming. We live in a society that is supposed to abhor violence — punishing it through some of the harshest prison sentences in the world. People are supposed to solve disputes through rational talk, negotiations, and, if necessary, the legal system. That’s how civilization works.
Even then, America still suffers from the worst levels of gun violence of any nation in the developed world. So to encourage more violence — especially after a violent act by a politician, of all people — seems contrary to what America should strive for.
Then again, maybe these assumptions are wrong. On Thursday night, before finally issuing an apology for his actions, Gianforte won the special election for Montana’s US House seat.