GQ journalist Nathaniel Friedman, who goes by the pen name of Bethlehem Shoals, has apologized after tweeting that he would like to beat Pat Smith, the mother of Benghazi victim Sean Smith, to death.
“I don’t care how many children Pat Smith lost I would like to beat her to death,” he tweeted on Monday, eventually deleting the post after tremendous backlash.
“I’ve been advised to delete that tweet lest my account be suspended,” posted Shoals shortly after. “Done.”
Predictably, Shoals was not sanctioned by Twitter for the blatant violation of their terms of service, despite the company’s decision to permanently suspend Breitbart Tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos last night for offending Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones.
“Last night, when Pat Smith was speaking onstage at the Republication National Convention, I tweeted that ‘no matter how many children she’s lost, I’d like to beat her to death.’ That’s what I said, and I accept full responsibility for my actions and their consequences,” said Shoals in an apology on Medium.
Why did I do it? It certainly wasn’t intended as a literal threat on a woman’s life. If anything, it was an extremely ill-advised attempt at satirizing the overall climate of the RNC. But with that kind of hateful language, an explanation just turns into rationalization.
I certainly didn’t help the situation by getting defensive and suggesting that Twitter, vile as it can be, is already a hotbed for this kind of discourse, or by arguing that my track record and reputation as a writer could provide any exculpatory context. Because what matters is that I said it. And I wish I could take it back.
Under no circumstances is it okay to invoke violence against women. As outraged as I was by parts of Pat Smith’s speech, to use this kind of language as a means of expressing that feeling was completely out of bounds. I also completely understand how, regardless of my intent, it was extremely triggering for a lot of people. And for that I am genuinely sorry.
I’ve also heard a lot this morning from people on the other side of the political spectrum. While I may disagree with these people on a number of matters, I know that what I wrote is utterly indefensible. The last thing this country needs is statements that make the climate even more toxic and divisive.
I generally believe the world to be a messy, confusing place. But in this case, there’s no ambiguity about it: I fucked up and should have just owned that. I’ve learned my lesson and at this point all I can do is reiterate that I’m sorry and promise to do better in the future.
Shoals has since locked his account, making his tweets “protected” from the public eye, and Twitter has apparently decided not to push any sanctions against him for his behavior.