Last night, I went to speak at a campaign event for a nonpartisan friend of mine who is running for local office — but, unfortunately, was unable to do so after a complete stranger came in with the clear sole purpose of attacking me.
I was standing in the crowd and waiting for my turn to speak, when a man walked in and tapped me on the shoulder. I turned, and then — without saying a single word — he started dumping a giant bottle of water on my head. Then, as I was standing there completely stunned, he made eye contact with me, lifted the bottle, and whipped the rest of it into my face and my eyes before walking out. A few people sort of tried to chase him as he was leaving, but he ultimately got away.
Some people might think I’m overthinking this — “it’s just water!” — but this wasn’t just some random drunk guy; this was a targeted attack. I know this because I saw the security footage while I was filing a police report. He walked into the venue confidently, saw me, did it, and left. He knew I would be speaking there; I was the reason he was there; that was the reason he was there . . . to prevent me from speaking.
So I just have to ask — why? As someone with views all over the partisan spectrum, I really have no way of knowing what this man’s views are, or how my own views may have made him so angry. I work at Fox News, which in and of itself has been enough to make some liberal people hate me. I have been critical of President Trump and other Republican politicians, which in and of itself has been enough for some conservative people to hate me. Oh, and by the way, I’m not using the word “hate” lightly. I’ve had people on the Internet — from both sides of the spectrum — call me a bitch, a slut, and a stupid, idiot whore. I’ve had people tell me they are coming to my office to rip my entrails out. Seeing those kinds of things has never been pleasant, but at least I could always just put my phone down and get away from it. After what happened on Monday night, however, I realize that there really is no getting away. Anytime I leave the house, I’m going to remember that I am a target for acts of hatred, that there are complete strangers out there who hate me, and that, apparently, they’re not afraid to come after me. And that next time, it might not be just water.
But the more I think about it, the more I realize that this wasn’t about issues at all — and that in fact, politics seems to be less and less about issues every single day. It isn’t about finding solutions anymore. No, it’s all about ramped-up, hyper-partisan rhetoric, where you’re either on one side or the other, and must see the people on the other side as if they’re not “people” at all. It’s all about either unconditionally hating or unconditionally supporting your side, an approach that pretty clearly leaves no room for any sort of discussion.
My most likely guess is that this man knew that I worked at Fox News, and I was therefore a caricature of what he sees as “bad,” or “not on his side.” What he may not have known is that I was there to speak in support of a friend not only because of our shared stance on budget-cutting, but also because of our shared stance on criminal-justice reform — that we have locked up too many nonviolent criminals, that mandatory minimums are garbage, that the War on Drugs has been a failure, and so on. Of course, when it comes to your right to exist in public without being attacked, your views shouldn’t matter anyway. No one — Republican, Democrat, libertarian, socialist, person who made a joke about Star Wars — should have to feel unsafe and/or wear a full rainsuit indoors in public.
The entire thing was recorded on security cameras, and I have pictures from that footage on my phone right now. My first inclination was to release it, and then I realized that not only may I not want to glorify him with that publicity, but there are also certainly plenty of people out there who hate me and would enjoy watching that being done to me, and I’m not sure I want to give them that satisfaction. I haven’t decided for sure either way.
What I do know, however, is this: If I have to hesitate to release footage of a crime being committed against me because I know that it would likely give other people satisfaction to see it, then we definitely have a problem with the way we are viewing and treating each other. We need to do better, and it needs to start now.
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— Katherine Timpf is a reporter for National Review Online.