If there is one thing I love, it’s Twitter drama. Every week, I like to see what’s trending and who people are dragging this time. A few weeks ago, it was Kaitlin Bennett, or as she is commonly known, Gun Girl. Bennett reached internet fame after she posted a graduation photo of her walking with an AR-10 around Kent State University — the same university where the Ohio National Guard killed four college students and injured nine protesting the Vietnam War.
As I was having fun watching her get dragged on Twitter and seeing videos of her making a complete fool of herself, I was inspired to write a column about her. I could write a column why her arguments and interviews are terrible, but I decided to go with the number two option: how not to engage in political discussion.
With the United States becoming more politically divided, it’s time we learn how to engage in political discussion, and what better way by showing how not to do it by watching Kaitlin Bennett.
A video that I will be analyzing is Bennett’s infamous video titled “College Kids Have No Morals.” This video features Bennett asking random college students their opinion on having menstrual products in the men’s bathroom and urinals in women’s bathroom.
The first flaw with her video is the title. She is labeling people with opposing views as immoral. The American Psychological Association strongly advises against “polarizing language and personal attacks” in political conversation. When you label someone with differing views as “immoral” or “evil,” all it does is create division, and people are less likely to listen and have a discussion.
The second flaw in her video is she doesn’t seem to actually listen to people with opposing views. Studies have shown that it is difficult to change people’s minds on political issues, but you can expose them to opposing viewpoints to gain an understanding of why people think certain ways.
Part of a discussion is to hear what the other side has to offer. It’s hard to listen to different viewpoints when a person is attacking and berating you. None of the college students Bennett interviewed were verbally or physically violent with her. Most of them were calm, even when asked ridiculous questions that denied the existence of transgender people. In fact, some students tried to inform her about gender identity and issues some transgender people might face.
When students were politely trying to explain the nuances of gender identity, she would openly mock them behind their backs. Bennett does not seem interested in understanding other people and tries to make a fool of them, but instead makes a fool of herself.
The biggest flaw in Bennett’s content is her trying to make a fool out of others. Her shtick is she does or says something offensive, people get mad and explain why they are upset, and then she cries wolf and pretends to be victim. The questions she asks are often misguided or insert her own personal thoughts on the matter. As someone who interviews people, you never ask questions that label and attack people or try to insert your opinions.
Instead, the person being interviewed should have most of the speaking time, and you should ask them to elaborate more when they say something vague or factually incorrect. Even when I interview someone for an opinion column, I try my best to ask unbiased questions, never label the people I’m interviewing, and give them a platform to speak. Regardless of whether I agree or disagree with what a person is saying, I understand where they’re coming from.
Bennett’s content is a reminder of how not to engage in political discussion. Since NC State is more conservative than most other UNC System schools, it is very likely you will come across people with different political views. On campus, we have diverse political backgrounds of Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians and more. The important point is that we are all students who want our country to be the best it can be.
While Bennett leaves a lack of nuance in political discussion, we don’t have to. So let’s not waste time dumping our political views on people. Instead, we should move past labels we have prescribed for each other and have proper discussions.