Twice this week, police have shown up on the doorstep of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga. She says she’s a victim of “swatting.” I say she’s the beneficiary of yet another news cycle in which she gets to be in the spotlight.
When I first heard Thursday that Greene had been swatted for a second time in as many days, I was astounded. It’s mostly been right-wingers who’ve employed the tactic of calling emergency lines with false stories of horrible violence taking place at the residences of unsuspecting victims. Such calls are meant to cause swarms of heavily armed officers to descend on the locations. The hoax typically frightens the targets out of their skin, but it has also resulted in injuries or deaths.
Swatting is a trolling tactic with no upside and no moral high ground.
It seemed wild that progressives would pull such a stunt against even someone whose stances are as heinous as Greene’s. I’m not one of those people who thinks, say, protesting a restaurant where a Supreme Court justice is dining is outré — but swatting is a trolling tactic with no upside and no moral high ground. Just last week, she introduced legislation that would ban gender-affirming care for minors around the country. According to the Rome Police Department, the person who called Tuesday night later called back to claim the report was a response to Greene’s anti-trans politics.
That makes little sense from both a tactical and a strategic level. As far as the former goes, it’s not clear what the goal the twin incidents would be other than to harass or frighten Greene at her home. Nothing about these false reports seems likely to strike fear into Greene’s heart or cause her to change her ways. It’s a moment of self-gratification for whoever has called in these false alarms and maybe a chuckle for their supporters on Twitter.
Strategically, swatting isn’t exactly a tool that speaks to left-wing goals and values. The whole point of calling in a SWAT team to harass a political opponent or a hapless celebrity is the hypermilitarized way these teams operate. Despite a lack of valid threats that require such overwhelming force, far too many communities around the country have spent millions needlessly building up SWAT teams that use overly aggressive methods. It defies sense to appropriate that absurd fetishization of violence in pursuit of progressive aims.
But what really made this whole situation more annoying than anything else is when I realized how overhyped it has been. In the first incident, Greene had several officers show up at around 1 a.m., which, while frustrating, doesn’t appear to have caused any sort of alarm. There were no armored vehicles, no massive rifles pointed at the door, nothing that really evoked any sort of danger toward Greene or her family. In the second case, the dispatcher chose to send two officers to Greene’s door at roughly 3 a.m. Not two dozen — two.
Which brings me back to why this makes no sense as a tactic: It has intensely diminished returns after the first time. Without some proof that something is really going on, it’s unlikely a dispatcher is going to take yet another call to Greene’s address seriously any time soon.
Here we are, grappling with a story in which all parties involved kinda suck.
The person who initiated Tuesday’s incident called back to say they were opposed to Greene’s attacks on the trans community; Wednesday’s call came from someone claiming to be trans themselves. But whoever targeted her may not have actually been upset with Greene’s anti-trans stances. Greene claims officers said the false report of violence at her home came from KiwiFarms, an alt-right website cut from the same cloth as 4chan and 8chan. Its users have used swatting as a way to get their lulz in, so they fit the M.O. And it would make a bizarre sense to try to pin these calls on the trans community as a false flag.
And so here we are, grappling with a story in which all parties involved kinda suck. I hope whoever called in fake reports of crimes is happy knowing that they have achieved literally nothing for their cause, be they an alt-right troll or a pro-trans rights crusader. Congratulations on making the congresswoman lose a few minutes of sleep each night. She’s going to use these incidents to further label the trans community as dangerous and milk the sympathy of being the “victim” for all it’s worth. What a waste of everyone’s time.