I am not a fan of Kaitlin Bennett.
A conservative social media darling, “Gun Girl” became famous in 2018 for attending her college graduation at Kent State University with an AR-15.
The same university, I might add, where four students were killed in a 1970 police shooting during a protest over U.S. bombings of Cambodia.
A consistent fan of social media feuds and ad-hominem attacks, she’s become a laughingstock for several bizarre videos showing her harassing students at her alma mater with invasive, transphobic questions.
Critics have come to see her love of controversy and hurtful rhetoric, including her insinuations that trans women are perverted, as emblematic of America’s toxic outrage culture – particularly among the MAGA-loving crowd Bennett courts.
It’s true bad behavior, like Bennett’s transphobia, deserves to be called out – but not all protests are created equal.
After arriving at Ohio State University last week to film more reaction-provoking videos, she was swarmed by an angry crowd who threw water and toilet paper at her, shouted elementary-school insults about rumors she pooped her pants at a party, and effectively chased her off campus.
Several commenters have argued bullying Bennett is justified, considering she has a history of name-calling and immaturity in her videos and profiles.
Frankly, I’m not very concerned about Bennett’s feelings.
My problem with the bullying mentality is that it simply will not work in reducing the political venom Bennett relies upon to stay relevant.
Responding to fire with fuel encourages the behavior protestors are outraged over, while dissuading people who may want to change the culture of aggression from engaging in our current political conversations.
Bennett’s camp believes they are the sole torches of reason against a world hell-bent on policing morality and suppressing disagreement.
These beliefs won’t be changed by a mob of students running a dissenter off campus while proudly shouting expletives and waving middle fingers on camera.
Supporters of Bennett’s trolling have already made up their minds, well beyond the point of persuasion – and engaging in their childish rhetoric will do nothing but serve as encouragement for further vitriol.
A more moderate observer, meanwhile, isn’t likely to view the horde chanting schoolyard taunts at a woman, invading her personal space, and throwing toilet paper at her as rational.
And undecided, apolitical individuals, worn out by the constant bickering and hissing on the news, will likely stick their heads further in the sand to muffle the screams of the crowd.
The childishness of these protestors simply exacerbates the tribalism they claim to oppose – an attitude indicative of a broader trend of hypocritical, self-defeating toxicity on both sides of the aisle.
Critics should stop engaging with the banshees and pundits, and start working to uphold the values of peace and tolerance they’ve spent so much time fighting for.
If people are tired of the petulant immaturity that has infected our political sphere, why are they actively contributing to it?
As a culture, we already have enough undirected rage to last several lifetimes.
Don’t let the smoke and embers melt your sanity.
In times as fiery as these, we need a cool head now more than ever.