Insult and Assault

My take – which surely will be greeted with accusations of my “not getting it: I can’t believe this is what qualifies as an assault in 2019.

Let’s begin with a stipulation: As a straight white male, I am totally unqualified to write this column. 

In fact, in American culture circa 2019, I am uniquely unqualified to have an opinion on much of anything, due to my abhorrent “white male privilege” – a virtue of birth which frankly would feel more real if I hadn’t been born to teenage parents who lived in a basement efficiency in Queens, New York.

Never mind that I was privileged to grow up hand-to-mouth, that I’ve heard anti-Semitic taunts my whole life or that I worked my way through college and grad school.

Never mind the facts at all, in fact, because I’m white and male and thus need to stay silent – especially concerning the subject of Georgia TV reporter Alexandrea Bozarjian, a 23-year-old female swatted on the behind by a male runner during her coverage of a 10K race in Savannah this month.

It’s a swat Bozarjian believes to be sexual assault, as evidenced by the police report she filed two days later.

As she tweeted: “To the man who smacked my butt on live TV this morning: You violated, objectified, and embarrassed me. No woman should EVER have to put up with this at work or anywhere!! Do better.”

Later, during an appearance on the nationally televised CBS This Morning, Bozarjian explained, “He took my power, and I’m trying to take that back. I think what it really comes down to is that he helped himself to a part of my body.”

The jogger in question, Tommy Callaway, a husband, father of daughters, Cub Scout leader and church youth group volunteer, may yet face criminal charges. 

Callaway, 43, told Inside Edition, “I was caught up in the moment. I was getting ready to bring my hands up and wave to the camera to the audience. There was a misjudge in character and decision-making. I touched her back; I did not know exactly where I touched her.”

My take – which surely will be greeted with accusations of my “not getting it: I can’t believe this is what qualifies as an assault in 2019. 

I’ve watched the video – which has been viewed 12 million times on Twitter – and what I see is a prank in extremely poor taste, one that calls for an apology and deep soul-searching – not a criminal prosecution. 

This won’t be a popular opinion nowadays, but I still believe that violations, injuries and crimes occur along a spectrum, from the mild to the deadly serious. 

In court, it’s the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony. In the court of public opinion, however, we have abandoned all reason in favor of damning people over even the mildest affront – especially if such damnation earns us a few minutes of fame on national news programs.

Let me be clear: Slapping anyone on the buttocks is not okay, not when they’re at work or when they’re off work.

It has nothing to do with gender, though Bozarjian immediately played that card. 

Rather, it has everything to do with treating our fellow human beings with respect, including respecting their bodies and their personal space.

Having said that, we should also treat offenses against this principle by examining the offender’s intentions, the circumstances and the amount of damage caused by the incident. 

Was Callaway wrong to swat Bozarjian? Of course. And the public shame he’s faced since strikes me as appropriate punishment. 

As for Bozarjian, I hope she feels suitably empowered now and that she goes on to a long, successful journalism career – one where she is treated with respect at all times and that never sees her facing an actual, awful assault.

(25) comments

L1A1

All tour case building of cause I m white .. cause of this .. and that .... is just ... just let him write that it’s ok for everyone to slap his daughters behind and he would be fine with that ... you have a picture in judges clothes .. I hope that is just for fun ..

Rexphiles

Depending on the state or jurisdiction there are degrees of assault. That said, David Leibovitz, men seem to be fine swatting each other on the rear on the football field, but not anywhere else.

I was slapped across the rear (hard) while riding my bike on a major Scottsdale street 40 years ago — and I can still feel the pain, confusion at the laughter from the man sitting *in* the passing car’s passenger window, and terror as I struggled to control my bicycle.

It is a humiliation you will probably never understand, judging from this oped. Shame on you.

majkaflower

if this hack isn't fired advertisers will be contacted. By keeping him employed, the East Valley Tribune condones his support for sexual assault.

Beauvoir

Putting aside you are most likely not in a position to determine what an "actual awful assault" is for a moment and just focusing on your assumption this women has not had one or more "actual awful assaults" in her life already, we can all see how utterly ignorant you are of what happens in real women's lives every day. That ignorance is your privaledge and it's not a good look.

alysonfire

I don't even know where to start. First you claim you can't speak your mind even though you literally received a paycheck to publish this horrific entry into the rape culture you probably deny the existence of. Then you pretend to be a victim preemptively while denying someone else is a victim despite the law being very clear in this matter. You seem to struggle with the concept of consequences. You can say what you want, you can even get paid for it, but we can say what we want about it and no amount of passive aggressive preemptive whining can prevent others from exercising their civil rights. That man made a conscious decision to violate a law. He assumed he could get away with it, likely taking for granted that the same white privilege you also deny the existence of would shelter him from any consequences. You allude to his daughters and the fact that he's a church youth leader, I'm assuming to either imply his otherwise being a nice guy (as if fathers and church youth leaders never mistreat anyone) or to further vilify the victim of the crime for daring to hold him accountable. Speaking of which, did you for once consider what his daughters might feel like having a father grab some woman on live television? He didn't just disrespect her and commit a crime (and it's legally a crime, whether you object to the law or not), he violated and disrespected them. And now he's sending the message to other men that they are fair game should they get caught up in the moment; and you think men should be able to grab women for the mere cost of a fake apology, because if that's the only penalty, plenty of men are willing to pay it. We don't want apologies. We want your hands off of us. Clearly that requires the risks outweighing the rewards when even God fearing fathers of daughters can't keep their hands to themselves.

majkaflower

"It has nothing to do with gender, though Bozarjian immediately played that card. "

It has everything to do with gender. Her gender is why he assaulted her. If she were a man he wouldn't have even thought about it.

majkaflower

Advertisers should take note and think long and hard about what this newspaper stands for and what it supports.

greenturtle36

No, son, you don't need to say silent because you're a white male. You need to stay silent because you're entitled and stupid.

greenturtle36

One, two, three: Let's all feel sorry for the poor oppressed white man, offended that one of his brethren is being held accountable for his actions. Your complaints about how hard it is to be a man, have been heard. You will be blessed with a uterus and ovaries at the stroke of midnight; You will have monthly cycles and the ability to get pregnant, and your breasts will develop over the next few weeks. Start shopping for feminine products, and enjoy your new "easier" life!

thber923

Note to Mr. Leibowitz, he hit her. He engaged in an unprovoked act of violence on another human being whose back was turned. I would assert one of the reasons why he decided to hit here was because he knew she didn't see it coming.

Considering that context regarding this situation, I wonder what Mr. Calloway would consider suitable punishment if another man had done the exact same thing to one of his daughters.

majkaflower

I wonder what Mr. Leibowitz would consider the correct punishment if some man did this to his wife.

majkaflower

You should be fired for this column. It is offensive on a number of fronts. It offends with its whining, entitled tone. It offends basic truth by calling what is an offense, as per the laws of Georgia and most likely the policies of your employer, "not an offense." There is a reason why Tommy Callaway was arrested and charged and that is because he broke the law when he ASSAULTED that reporter. A slap to the body is assault: If anyone were to slap you in the face for this article they may be justified but they would still be committing a crime and you would be well within your rights to press charges. Touching someone in places we recognize as being intimate is sexual assault. To wit, if you were to do the same at your work you would be fired and the victim would be within their rights to press charges. None of this is up for debate. These are laws on the books. Breaking these laws constitutes a LEGAL OFFENSE by sheer definition. How is it even debatable? How does one even attempt to defend such behavior? As I said, you should lose your job for penning this column.

nadayada

it’s sexual assault. stuff like this is discussed in corporate workplaces all the time because it is indeed black and white. how is it 2019 and you don’t get this?

leibowitzisahack

A person in Georgia commits the crime of sexual battery by making physical contact with the intimate part (genitals, buttocks, or a woman’s breasts) of another person’s body without the consent of the other person.

leibowitzisahack

Under Georgia’s laws, a person commits the crime of sodomy by having o**l or a**l sex with another. A person commits the crime of aggravated s****y by having o**l or a**l sex with another person by force and without the other person’s consent.

(Ga. Code Ann. § 16-6-2.)

Words censored because they are considered profane despite being a law. For any other confusion, please see my username.

GeorgiaGirl

Would you rather he slapped her in the face? Would that finally qualify as assault to you? Would you finally be as offended as decent people are? You appear to be able to write. And whine. Learn to read. Read what the "sexual battery" law is. IT WAS WRITTEN FOR JUST THIS KIND OF THING.

charlie_blackmin

Oh, to have the confidence of a man whining on a public forum about how a man is being prosecuted for what is legally a crime.

clescdc

"White men aren't allowed to say anything to anyone anymore!" cries white man being paid to say whatever he feels like on a platform accessible across the world.

John Hane

I'm sorry but you are completely wrong. How has society digressed to the point where people are defending people who touch people sexually and in public. I do not buy his apology nor his excuse. You don't touch people you don't know, not on the back, nowhere. I don't see the connection between you portraying yourself as a white man who has been victimized by... anti-semetic comments? There is really no correlation between whatever you have suffered through and whats going on in this case, which is just pure harassment and embarrassment on live television. I am also white, and male, and I can say that not you, nor I will ever have to put up with something like this. You cannot compare yourself at all to this situation.

I terribly disliked this article to say the least.

WhoTheHellCares

I only wish the same people who are so quick to condemn his actions were just as quick to condemn female reporters when they do the same/similar thing to male sportsmen as if they are entitled to, just because they are women.

Alas, judging by the number of times I've seen women engage in similar actions on TV without so much as a faux outrage occurring, I can only guess that double standards are fine when the perpetrator is female.

charlie_blackmin

Could you give an example or two of that? No hostility, genuinely curious.

nadayada

ok boomer

bolmanutebol

He lied about what happened and his intentions, despite video evidence. The law states that this is a crime. You've not only wasted your words saying that a crime isn't a crime, but you've exposed yourself as sarcastic when discussing serious issues and as someone I would not want to spend time with. I figured there would be assault apologists out there, despite the pastor's lack of remorse, and you didn't disappoint. Still, perhaps you should do better.

OMGreally

You should have stopped the moment you thought that it is not an offense. No one should have to deal with anyone touching them in any way inappropriately. This wasnt a hand on a shoulder, or a tap on the wrist. He blatantly went out of his way to slap the reporter on the backside. In no shape or form should this be deemed ok. While it is not close to the level of rape or sexual assault, he still needs to be given consequences for his actions and not be allowed off with a simple apology (which he didnt even give in his interview).

PhotoBob

Ms. Bozarjian was singled out because she was vulnerable, his intent was to humiliate her and he did it because he “knew” he could hit and run and get away with it. You said it in your led, "As a straight white male, I am totally unqualified to write this column." You should have had the self-realization to stop right there. Everything isn't always grey, this is black and white. Mr. Callaway showed not a bit of contrition, he made excuses, he lied, he did not take responsibility for his actions.

Imagine being a professional, years of education, decades of student loans, years of experience and then, your reward? You're looked at as a second class citizen, faced with this kind of indignity EVERY DAY of your career. The cat calls, pats on the behind and some white man from Arizona says, hey, ‘its just boys being boys.’ I'm embarrassed as a man for you and I'm ashamed as a journalist, working in this business and you don’t have more compassion or a modicum of insight into others vulnerabilities (as well as empathy the women who work at the East Valley Tribune who know now you wouldn't have their backs should they be assaulted because, come on, 'that man was just caught up in the moment.')

You said, "I hope she feels suitably empowered" She is a professional doing her job and some entitled white male thinks, he can take what he wants because someone like you is going to denigrate her feelings, her humiliation. You also wish her a "long, successful journalism career – one where she is treated with respect at all times." If I sound angry, I am. I come from a large family of women and have heard these stories as long as I can remember. It sickens me to think of anyone having to deal with this kind of humiliation. Breaking news David, it's opinions and columns like this that make it impossible for women to get the respect they deserve.

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