Grrrrrrrr…. BOYS!

Right off the bat, I don’t want this fight to happen. I have absolutely zero desire to see Jamie Kilstien beat the crap out of Jonah Goldberg, and make no mistake – I know Jamie Kilstien, and he WILL beat the crap out of Jonah Goldberg. He’s a buff guy who trains in Muay Thai and possibly any number of other kinds of MMA approved techniques. He’s also very smart and very quick – two thing’s I’m *pretty* sure I couldn’t say about Mr. Goldberg. But I did sign the petition, and I think everyone should because Jonah Goldberg said this:
The fact that young people think socialism is better than capitalism, that’s proof of what social scientists call their stupidity and their ignorance and it’s something that conservatives have to work harder to beat out of them, either literally or figuratively as far as I’m concerned. link.
Yes, “reasonable people” (and I use that term extremely broadly) should be able to distinguish between actual threats and rhetorical flights of fancy/idiocy, and this was obviously the latter, but I’d like Jonah Goldberg to have to better answer the substantive issues about Socialism called up in his statement, and I’d like to engage a conversation about violent rhetoric in the public sphere and its possible ramifications.
It seems like after all was said and done, the extreme use of both buzzwords and explicitly violent sloganeering on the Right during the 2008 campaign, didn’t foment waves of racially or politically motivated beatings or killings, but it MAY actually have contributed to a handful of horrible incidents committed by crack-pots or just plain racist assholes, and it certainly raised the tension level in this country to something that seemed extremely dangerous at the time (and that we haven’t entirely simmered down from).
And no, Jonah Golberg suggesting that young Socialists should have it beaten out of them has probably not, to date, resulted in a rash of beatings of young Socialists, in the home, on college campuses, out in the street… but it does – all of this does – have a cumulative effect that I’m absolutely sure I HAVE seen result in at least emboldening bullies, and at worst, a few incidents of actual fists on faces.
The whole idea of challenging someone to a fight in a public forum is distasteful to me. It makes me uncomfortable for a number of reasons, and the main reason is that we’re talking about ACTUAL VIOLENCE. But I think it’s probably not a bad thing for the punditry in this country to understand just what the real end of these rhetorical flights might lead to – to understand at least what beating something out of someone means when the threat comes at you, if not what it feels like to actually get beaten. Because the thing is, people ARE having things “beaten out of them” all the time – gayness, a lack of faith or religiosity, perceived promiscuousness, skin color, general “otherness,” etc. And o.k., “all the time” might be a rhetorical flight of fancy, if not idiocy, but it’s not a joke – this actually does happen.
And it’s also about something more. Jamie is right when he says:
Tough guy conservatives go on the TV or to their right-wing hate circle jerks and talk a lot of shit… The problem is they are never the ones to do anything tough. They send poor people to fight in wars they helped drum up, and then when those kids come back, they call them socialists for wanting proper mental and health care.
Effin’-A right. And I’m sick of it, too.
So let’s get uncomfortable – let’s get so close to what beating something out of someone actually means that we start to squirm.
And then let’s remember what that feels like.
I’m including myself in this.
I hope they don’t fight, but I’d like to see the discussion between these two taken to the next level.
Here’s the petition: Jamie v. Jonah