Recently, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie made headlines by visiting the beach with his family. A beach that was closed to everyone else in New Jersey at the time because a state government shut down he caused.
Naturally, people were angry and appalled at his arrogance. They’ve been angry and appalled at his abuse of power as demonstrated in Bridgegate (Refresher:Lanes on leading to the George Washington Bridge from Ft. Lee, New Jersey, were shut down, causing a massive traffic jam. Supposedly, this was because the representative from Ft. Lee did not endorse him for Governor). However, instead of focusing on that arrogance, they went after his appearance, comparing him to a beached whale, etc.
Governor Christie was not always overweight:
See that? Same guy.
Apparently, he’s always been an arrogant jerk. It’s not an angry, tortured soul, hurt response. He’s just a privileged, bullying jerk.
Texas Congressman Blake Farenthold (Republican, Texas 27th) hit the news headlines (and social media feeds. And memes) this week. 3 female Senators were part of the group that blocked the first Senate attempt at “Repeal and Replace.” Rep. Farenthold said, “if it was a guy from south Texas I might ask him to step outside and settle this Aaron Burr-style.” (Any “Hamilton” fans out there know what that means). He has also said, “I think that we’re so generous in some of our social problems that people are unwilling to get a job outside in the heat. Rather than get 15 dollars to go get roofing, they’d rather get 9 or 10 dollars in benefits.” (To be fair, the guy has said a few things that make sense: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/b/blake_farenthold.html)
People, again, have responded strongly to his words, including Sen. Susan Collins (R. – Maine) who was one of the three Senators (along with Murkowski and Moore). She was caught on a hot microphone discussing him with a colleague. Did she object to someone talking about shooting her? Did she respond by defending her position? No. She went after his appearance:
“Did you see the one who challenged me to a duel?” Collins asks.
“I know,” Reed replies. “Trust me. Do you know why he challenged you to a duel? ‘Cause you could beat the s— out of him.”
“Well, he’s huge,” Collins replies. “And he — I don’t mean to be unkind, but he’s so unattractive it’s unbelievable.”
“Did you see the picture of him in his pajamas next to this Playboy bunny?” she continues, referring to an infamous photo of Farenthold, below.
The man has been married 31 years. Someone loves him as is, although there must have been an intense discussion after this photo surfaced.
The point is, rather than addressing his actions, she went for the easy, cheap shot. His appearance. It’s not his political philosophy. It’s not him casually threatening to shoot people who oppose legislation he supports. No. She went after his appearance.
If we disagree with someone, but focus on perceived physical flaws as a response, we dismiss what lies beneath that appearance which is the cause of our pique. The packaging is more important that its contents, even though the packaging won’t have an impact on legislation, didn’t shut down the state or block a major artery into New York City, or decide whether we go to war (Yes, I mock the President’ appearance. I mock his Twitter, speeches, promises, tendency to cheat vendors out of their money, his hypocrisy, and corruption even more).
Pro tip: If you get mad at someone and call him/her fat, chances are that they already know. It’s not likely to throw them off balance.
Let me share three more pictures:
And who are these more attractive men? A journalist? Eminem’s cousin? My niece’s prom date? Don’t know? Let me give you some digits:
36 (possible 136)
5 (6, including his brother)
Those numbers represent the number of people killed by Ted Bundy, Timothy McVeigh, and Dzhokar Tsarnaev. A serial killer and two terrorists. And you maybe thought they were cute.
People’s looks matter far less than their deeds. To focus on looks is to objectify, marginalize, and deflect away from the issue at hand. When we stop reducing disagreements to insults based on appearances, we may yet be able to find a way to amicably settle them. If not, the discord and din will continue to grow.