Beware the Weenie Terrorists
An embittered Viet Nam veteran spits a mouthful of tobacco juice at Jane Fonda during a book signing. Students throw pies in the faces of conservatives Ann Coulter, David Horowitz, and Bill Kristol. Another splatters Pat Buchanan with salad dressing. In each case, the assailant justifies his actions as a “protest,” but what is really occurring is violence aimed at intimidating those with opposing views.
But it is worse than that. The mentality behind such assaults is closely akin to the justification for terrorism, except that (fortunately) its owners do not have the requisite levels of anger, frustration, hatred and brutality to make their “statement” with bombs, guns or airplanes rather than spit, Mrs. Smith pies and Green Goddess. Call it weenie terrorism, and accord it the respect it deserves: none. At the same time, let us recognize that its ethical underpinnings are at the roots of real terrorism, and therefore treat such behavior with more seriousness than its slapstick methodology would otherwise warrant.
What ethical principles are being violated by such behavior? The threshold purposes of the attacks are undeniably unethical. The objective is to injure, not physically (although the infliction of disgust and discomfort are certainly involved), but psychically, to cause embarrassment, humiliation, and finally, fear. The conduct obviously fails justification under any ethical system other than the most extreme utilitarian argument, that somehow these acts of violence can achieve significant good results to balance their otherwise unethical nature. But even that analysis fails, because the “results” flowing from the assaults are unethical in themselves. Take the attack on Fonda: what was accomplished? According to Michael Smith, the spitter, what was accomplished can be summarized in one word: revenge. He and other Viet Nam veterans are still angry with the former “Hanoi Jane” for her anti-war activities, and they want to get “even” by spitting in her face. And the long term benefits to society? Well, none. It is hard to imagine that some celebrity bent on opposing the war in Iraq will be dissuaded by the prospect of being used as a human spittoon forty years down the road. The action is what it is: it inflicts harm on another human being to make Mr. Smith feel better.
The food-throwing liberals similarly display their weakness of courage, wit and resolve. Unable to mount a successful rhetorical challenge to Coulter, Kristol and the rest, they resort to violence, in the grand tradition of terrorists everywhere. They do this, because they refuse to accord those with whom they disagree any respect as human beings, they demonize them by attributing present and future disastrous consequences to their views, and they feel relatively powerless to overcome their arguments and influence. Thus they aim to punish, injure, and intimidate all staples of terrorism. A success? A success is when conservative commentators like Michael Graham and Sean Hannity reflect on the air that they are likely on the hit list, as both have done recently. The fact that citizens are not supposed to be afraid of speaking their minds in America, even if the fear is of getting a mouth full of unwanted banana cream, does not enter into the weenie terrorist’s thinking.
Be it Ward Churchill, Bill O’Reilly, George Soros, Donald Rumsfeld, Donald Trump or Ramsey Clark, nobody deserves to be the victim of assault and battery for their views or their actions, and we should beware the people who think otherwise. For they are the precursors of tomorrow’s domestic terrorists. Today’s weenies who fight with pies and spit will spawn bolder philosophical offspring carrying far deadlier weapons.