I do not want representatives of our democracy to become so out of control that they attack reporters physically—regardless of how politicians or candidates might dislike their questioning. The body slamming of Ben Jacobs of The Guardian by Greg Gianforte of Montana was arrogant, misanthropic, and foolhardy. It suggests that he was unable to verbalize a cogent answer to the reporter and opted for a shortcut solution, which was not a response at all, but just an unconscionable reaction.
This incident reminds me of how other professionals lash out in violence because they have not learned how to defuse situations. Instead, they let their emotions get the best of them, so to speak, and use the weapons at their disposal to act out of fear and without thinking. A lack of training in deescalating confrontations contributes to bringing episodes to the boiling point—resulting in a network of exacerbating ramifications. The relationships between police and community members and the consequences thereof easily exemplify the tendency to interact destructively from a vantage point of xenophobia, ignorance, and categorical prejudices and stereotypes.
What is disturbing about the aftermath is that Gianforte’s actions were not considered to be felonious in nature. The police charged him with misdemeanor assault despite the fact his actions intended to cause harm to Jacobs. His actions were grossly disproportional to the feisty entreaties by the journalist, who cannot be characterized as belligerent, aggressive, and threatening. Such lack of equivalency demands a stiffer charge.
However, we live in a society that has become increasingly accustomed to lying, bullying, impropriety, narcissism, megalomania, conflicts of interest, etc. The cruelty, nastiness, and disrespect candidate Donald Trump utilized during the presidential campaign have been dismissed by many as unimportant and shamelessly copied by his supporters. Clumsiness in the face of the media does not give those being interviewed the license to resort to violence. The exculpatory responses by Republican legislators, for example, make mockery of our system of justice and accountability.
It is my hope that citizens dealing with real issues in their communities across the country do not relent for fear of such outlandish reprisals. We currently live in an atmosphere that regales hatred and calumny as a substitute for healthy debate, persuasion, and constructive criticism or praise. The members of the justice system, legislative branches, and voting population must take the initiative to put the kibosh on these mindless outbreaks!