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UNPOPULAR OPINION: If you celebrated the Gillette Ad but think people were too hasty with the Covington Kids, you are part of the problem.

A little over a week ago, Gillette released their “The Best Men Can Be” ad, and the internet exploded. Gillette said: “Men, we can do better.” A very vocal, very male portion of the internet burst through the wall like the Kool-Aid Man to bay: “NOT ALL MEN!”

 

A lot of people agreed with them, though. They agreed that it was time more men started speaking out against a “Boys will be Boys” culture, a culture where women are, even unintentionally, discounted. That lasted about a week. Over the weekend, the anti-choice “March for Life” happened in Washington DC. Ben Shapiro made an idiotic comment about Baby Hitler, but that became overshadowed by a completely different event and conversation. The Covington Catholic boys.

 

The first video that was released was up close and personal. It was in the center of the mob of white boys in MAGA hats dancing around an older Native American man who was part of the Indigenous People's March. He was beating a drum; they were dancing around throwing tomahawk chops. In the center of his path, silent, smiling and unmoving, was another behatted white boy.

 

The internet exploded again. People wanted to know who these kids were, where they lived, what school they went to. At the time, I said that we should not doxx minors. I stand by that statement, and it is a hill I will die on. Kids are a product of their environment. Shame the parents, shame the schools, but leave kids alone.

 

A day later, the video from the BHI protest was released and the push-back began. The boys were not at fault because the black guys said mean things to them. Nathan Phillips marched up to them, so obviously he was the aggressor. The boy was confused, he didn't know what was going on. He was just nervous. The Covington Catholic kid released a statement written by a crisis PR firm hired by his parents. He was “silently praying” during that scene. And the media started turning as well. They presented the BHI video as some sort of exoneration based on context.

 

And here is where I say something that will upset and inflame people.

 

If you cheered on the Gillette ad and saw the truth in what it was promoting, but fell into the: “Well, the context means we should not be too hasty” trap with the Covington Catholic kids... YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM. I am baffled that more people don't see the connection between toxic masculinity and letting boys get away with this shit.

 

Nick Sandmann and his friends are not one isolated incident. They are a symptom of the far-ranging problem we recognize as a problem, but then we wring our hands and wonder how to fix it while companies make woke videos to sell their products. The “10 year challenge” picture of Sandmann and Kavanaugh was an easily digestible meme. It was also easily forgotten as people tried to grant the boys some clemency. No one stopped to think about how true it was.

 

Both Kavanaugh and Sandmann come from the same culture. Families with money and power, an elite, all male, private school, and the world at their feet. They network with the “best people” who can get them a step into the world. (One of Trump's advisors went to Covington Catholic, and the crisis PR firm the family hired has ties to Mitch McConnell.) They have limited interactions with those who think or look differently. They were safe and secure in their insulated, protected world.

 

They have the freedom to openly state their beliefs and expect to remain mostly free from consequences. Brett Kavanaugh sat in front of the judiciary committee and screamed at the female senators who questioned him. It didn't stop him from getting confirmed. Nick Sandmann wore a MAGA hat, a symbol of the racism and sexism perpetuated by this administration, to an anti-choice march and then took part in a mob atmosphere against a black cult and then a Native American man. No matter what video you watch, that's what it boils down to. And what does he get? An interview on evening television where he, a teen, can say he isn't going to apologize for what he did. He's probably visiting the White House, and Sarah Sanders lamented people “eager to ruin the lives of kids”. (I'm sure the Parkland students appreciated that.)

Nick Sandmann, Brock Turner, Ethan “Affluenza” Couch, Brett Kavanaugh... These men, in conjunction with the Gillette Ad and it's aftermath, tell us something extremely important. Yeah, society recognizes that men need to own their bad behavior... As long as they aren't rich or white. People can try to point to Turner and Couch and argue that they spent time in jail. That is both laughable and insulting. Brock Turner raped an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. He spent 3 months in jail. Ethan Couch spent two years in prison for a parole violation, NOT killing 4 people with his drunken and drugged driving.

 

The “context” at the Lincoln Memorial doesn't change anything, unless you are searching for a way to make it happen. Did the five members of the BHI cult say mean things? Yeah, that's what they do. But why did Sandmann and his cohorts feel comfortable responding?

Let's try a thought experiment. If a group of black kids had thrown water bottles at the Westboro Baptist Church protesters, would you excuse them because they were provoked? If a group of black kids had jeered and shouted and surrounded an older white man singing hymns, would you be searching for the benefit of the doubt?

 

Yes, all men need to watch that Gillette ad, but especially white men. These are the men who get the benefit of the doubt. I'm sorry guys, but it's true. You've been letting men of color pick up your slack for far too long. And, honestly, there is no logical reason you deserve it. Here's some more numbers for you. SPLC lists 954 hate groups in the US. ¾ of them stem from white supremacy. 67% of terrorism in the United States stems from racist or xenophobic groups. 57% of rapists are white according to RAINN.

 

If you are desperate to give these boys the benefit of the doubt, consider that your excuse plays into those numbers. Your quest contributed to Christine Blasey Ford not being home for Christmas. Your choice is contributing the smear campaign being waged against a Vietnam era veteran. Ford and Phillips represent threats to the status quo, the same status quo that gives those boys the “benefit of the doubt” where none was earned or deserved.

And when you do that, you are contradicting your stated belief that, like the Gillette ad said, the status quo needs to change.

Thanks for reading, and if you've made it this far, consider supporting my writing at ko-fi.com/politicsandromance

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