Unearthed Audio Reveals Atlantic Columnist Advocating Extreme Violence Toward Women Who Have Abortions
As bad as the Atlantic's decision to hire the new conservative Kevin Williamson originally appeared, it now looks even worse. A newly rediscovered recording shows Williamson digging his heels in on his violent views toward women who've had abortions.
Many critics have noted that Williamson has a history of making transphobic, racist, and repugnant statements. He received the most attention for tweets he wrote advocating that women who have abortions should be hanged—a grotesque and condemnable position that made many question why a generally respectable outlet would hire him.
Atlantic editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg defended the hire. He didn't defend the tweet, but instead suggested that it shouldn't be taken too seriously:
"I don’t think that taking a person’s worst tweets, or assertions, in isolation is the best journalistic practice," he wrote in a memo to the staff published by Slate. "I’ve done this before in reference to extreme tweeting (third chances, too, on occasion), and I hope to continue this practice."
But Media Matters dug up a 2014 National Review podcast that Williamson appeared on, recorded around the time he wrote the tweets in question. They reveal that this was not an offhand tweet made in a moment of haste. His serious and considered view is that the millions of women who have had abortions in the United States should be killed.
"[S]omeone challenged me on my views on abortion, saying, 'If you really thought it was a crime you would support things like life in prison, no parole, for treating it as a homicide,'" he said. "And I do support that, in fact, as I wrote, what I had in mind was hanging."
Williamson goes on to say that he's not that comfortable with capital punishment in general, which actually makes his comment more troubling. He singles women out for a uniquely violent form of punishment. "If the state is going to do violence, let’s make it violence," Williamson said.
What makes his appearance on the show even more disturbing is that Charles Cooke, his co-host, also opposes abortion, but is able to provide a litany of reasons why capital punishment is not an appropriate response.
If the Atlantic wants a thoughtful, conservative writer on its staff, there exist countless thinkers who don't espouse violent extremist views. Why the publication chose Williamson remains a mystery.