by John Hawkins | June 24, 2009 11:50 am
You’ve heard of Perez Hilton, right? The obnoxious bully who insults people all day long on his huge gossip blog and draws semen dribbling out of their mouths on their photos?
Well, after picking a fight with Carrie Prejean on gay marriage at the Miss USA (Nobody has yet been able to explain why a gay guy is one of the judges at a woman’s beauty pageant), he moved on to picking a fight with singer Will.I.Am from the Black Eyed Peas at a nightclub. Unfortunately, since he was dealing with a man, not a woman, and was doing it in person, not over the internet, it didn’t go so well for him.
Long story short — and it is a surprisingly long story that entails who hit whom, Perez tweeting about the incident instead of calling 911, and dueling videos from Hilton and Will.I.Am — here’s what Perez Hilton said to Will.I.Am in his own words,
“I was like ‘I don’t need to respect you. I don’t respect you and I did say this, and I knew that it would be the worst thing I could possibly say to him because he was acting the way he was. I said ‘You know what, I don’t respect you and you’re gay and stop being such a f*ggot.'”
After this, Will.I.Am’s manager punched him out. Why his manager and not Will.I.Am? Maybe there wasn’t a bodyguard around and Will.I.Am expects his manager to fill in. No idea.
Now, I was just going to let this circus pass without comment, but there was a rather bizarre column about this from Kate Dailey at Newsweek that just begged for a response. Here’s Kate Dailey’s take on this whole incident,
Yesterday, Perez Hilton got punched in the face. This lead to karma jokes, and “I’ve been wanting to punch him in the face for years” jokes, and all sorts of tacky, tasteless comments that make light of the fact that someone was the victim of violence. Yes, Perez is a pain; a pain who ridicules both gay rights activists and gay rights critics when not drawing crude genitalia on paparazzi photos. Did he deserve a beating? No: no one does. And yet that fact gets obscured when the victim of said beating is a churlish gadfly.
…This whole discussion is just a 21st century version of what women and assault victims have been hearing for years. The logic that it falls on the victim to prevent irrational actions of the assailant is really outdated and really, really dangerous. Many victims of violence–and especially domestic violence–will tell you that the slaps, punches, and shoves perpetrated upon them didn’t happen when they were just sitting their minding their own business. It came during some sort of disagreement. Maybe she snapped at him out of frustration. Maybe she hit on a particularly sore subject. These are all things that happen during the course of an argument–we’re never at our best when tempers are inflamed. But that doesn’t make it right, ever, to take the fight from cutting remarks to physical violence.
We all should try to be better people: less annoying or abrasive, less prone to reaching for the cheap (verbal) shot, more sensitive to those around us. But it’s not our responsibility to ensure that the person we’re arguing with doesn’t cross the line from nasty name calling to physical violence. This tired line of thinking keeps women with abusers (because if she just avoided certain subjects…), makes it ok to beat up gay men who have the temerity to walk down a crowded street in the wrong side of town (because really, what did he expect?) and subtly endorses sociopaths who think it’s their life’s work to beat some sense into people who don’t fit a cultural norm. It’s Rhianna, it’s Matthew Sheppard, it’s Angie Zapata. It’s wrong.
This is something we all know. Most of us claim to be all about non-violence and peaceful solutions and treating each other with kindness. The actual practice of supporting the victim, however, is a lot harder when the victim is kind of a douche. That, however, is when it’s most important: you can’t demand that people earn basic human rights with kindness points.
Yes, you read that right. Dailey actually compared Perez Hilton to Matthew Sheppard and victims of wife beating.
Let me give you an alternative view: if a man walks up to another man and calls him a f*ggot or a n*gger or a motherf*cker, etc., etc., to his face, there is nothing whatsoever morally wrong with punching him in the mouth as a response. In other words, “Did he deserve a beating? Yes, he did.” There are people who deserve beating. Fighting isn’t always wrong. Violence actually solves a lot of things.
So, does that mean if someone insults you that you should punch him in the face? No. Like many things in life, it’s just not simple.
Of course, bullying, a man hitting a woman, or picking fights are wrong.
Even if you get beyond that and someone deserves to be punched out, the law does not look kindly on it unless you can plausibly claim that you thought you were in danger and couldn’t get away.
Moreover, any sort of physical altercation entails risks. You could go to jail. You could seriously injure someone without intending to do so. Imagine punching someone in the jaw, knocking him down, and having him fracture his skull on the concrete. You would be held civilly and legally responsible for that.
Worse yet, what if, surprise, surprise, you lost and got seriously hurt? Even if you weren’t, how embarrassing would it be to have a wuss like Perez Hilton get in a lucky punch and knock you on your behind? Then, next thing you know, it’s on YouTube and you’re a national laughingstock.
Point being, even if you set aside “turning the other cheek” or “being a better man,” there are a lot of very good reasons not to get in fights if you can avoid it.
That being said, if you’re a man and you speak “fighting words” to another man, you’re not a victim if he whips your *ss. So, Perez Hilton? He’s not a victim, he doesn’t deserve anyone’s sympathy, and if it were up to me, Will.I.Am’s manager would get off without any punishment at all.
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