Kaitlin Bennett, known as the “Kent State gun girl,” has returned to headlines and social media discourse according to Lex18 news after controversial videos surfaced involving Bennett interviewing students on the University of Kentucky campus. According to The Washington Post, the 24 year-old originally became the subject of discussion in 2018 after posing for graduation photos with an AR-10 rifle as well as a graduation cap decorated with the statement, “COME AND TAKE IT,” the day following her graduation from Kent State University. Being a self-proclaimed conservative journalist and advocate for American gun rights and the pro-life movement, Bennett has received much backlash for her rather extremist political views and aggressive approach. She is outspoken and unapologetic in her opposition of transgender rights and fervent defense of the Second Amendment.
Most recently, her videos for her media outlet, “Liberty Hangout,” have added to her repertoire of insufferable political statements on social media. Some of these videos, which focus on Bennett discussing the topics of transgender inclusivity in public restrooms or racism in America, have gone viral on Twitter. Although one can assume that these videos have been uploaded with the intent to support her political perspective, they have ultimately only further perpetuated the internet’s demonizing of Bennett. The subjects of these videos, on the other hand, have earned significant praise for their clever rebuttals to the politically-charged questions. It is both enraging and comical to watch Bennett try and fail to outsmart and influence the opinions of her interviewees.
There is a truly hilarious irony in the display of such an emphatic advocate for conservative politics who is unable to combat the thoughtful arguments of her subjects. For many individuals, like myself, who disagree with the beliefs of Bennett, there is an undeniable entertainment value in the content she contributes to the internet. Like a train wreck, it’s tragic, but we cannot seem to look away. However, are the haters only perpetuating the problem? Are we ignorantly allowing her to profit from our views and responses? At the end of the day, is Bennett the one laughing all the way to the bank?
I cannot help but feel as though I’ve contributed to Bennett’s harshly conservative efforts via my own interactions with her online content. In views, favorites, comments, clicks, replies, retweets and more, we give attention to her absurd political agenda that is necessary for creating a career out of it. Regardless of whether it is in terms of praise or hate, views are views. They allow her to go viral. Going viral is, in a sense, free advertisement for her online platform. Though many oppose her political perspective, her nearly three-hundred-thousand Twitter followers prove that she still maintains some support. Perhaps, if she had not been such a frequented subject of online discussion from those who disagree with her arguments, she may not have attained such an immense following. We have given a dream career to someone who clearly is unaffected by opposing opinions and online hate. Amidst critique of unfavorable internet personalities like Bennett, we must also be critical and conscious of our own contribution to the conflict. It is imperative that we become more aware of who we unconsciously provide a platform to.