Ben Howe, a contributing editor for the leading conservative blog, RedState, made his feelings on the Ferguson, Missouri shooting of unarmed teen Michael Brown extremely clear this week, via his Twitter feed — and set off an online firestorm in the process.
On Wednesday, less than two days after a grand jury let police officer Darren Wilson, who killed Brown, off with no charges, Howe — a 36-year-old married father of four — took to Twitter to offer his unsolicited opinion on how he would have handled the August 9 altercation with Brown were he in Wilson’s position.
Give me a gun. Put me in Darren Wilson’s shoes. I’d have shot Mike Brown right in his face.
— Ben Howe (@BenHowe) November 26, 2014
Howe’s assertion that he would have “shot Mike Brown right in the face,” drew a stream of outraged responses.
@BenHowe Just some dude talking about shooting people in the face? Get some help for that anger broseph.
— Hagel (@MullingHagel) November 26, 2014
— Josh Scannell (@JoshScann) November 27, 2014
@BenHowe dude… think ab how tired African Americans are of seeing one unarmed teen killed a week by a cop in this country. Please. Stop.
— Isaac Saul (@Ike_Saul) November 26, 2014
Yeah you’re definitely not racist for fantasizing about shooting that black kid in the face, Martin Luther King. @BenHowe
— Jesse Berney (@jesseberney) November 26, 2014
@BenHowe fortunately you head tells me your penis is small and you probably impotent so we won’t have to worry about any Ben Jrs.
— AAmom (@AVD911) November 28, 2014
Howe, who has also written for the conservative Breitbart web network, defended himself with a number of Twitter messages.
What if I don’t care if you’re offended?
— Ben Howe (@BenHowe) November 28, 2014
But on Saturday, Howe decided to deploy more than 140 characters in his own defense, penning an essay posted on RedState, in which he attempted to explain, “Why I Said I’d Have Shot Michael Brown in the Face.”
Before arriving at the rationale promised by the essay’s headline, however, Howe devoted some verbiage to lashing out at his critics on “the left.”
“I now have folks from yet more left-leaning publications like Buzzfeed and Vox retweeting both my tweets as well as tweets made towards me in what I can only assume is designed to create more outrage which will eventually culminate in demands for an apology,” Howe wrote. “Once they get my scalp, they’ll use it as a constant admission of racist guilt to broadly paint everyone else on the right with the same brush.”
Howe then made it clear that he has no plans to apologize for his Ferguson tweet.
“Allow me to end any speculation: I’ll not be apologizing for anything, I stand by what I said,” Howe stated.
Howe also cited earlier Ferguson tweets in which he appeared to express outrage at the shooting of Brown by Wilson.
Having a legitimate reason to suspect Brown or to be cautious is still far away from settling this. 8 bullets. Dead kid. #Ferguson
— Ben Howe (@BenHowe) August 15, 2014
The conservative pundit then gets to his justification for his provocative tweet of three days earlier.
“For the record, I have put myself in Brown’s shoes as well,” Howe wrote. “Is it unrealistic to think that someone who just committed a mild robbery, but who likely intended to continue living as a free man would attack an officer who could potentially arrest him?”
In fact, numerous commentators ranging from liberal Ezra Klein to conservative Nancy Grace, have previously answered exactly that question, concluding that Darren Wilson’s account of being attacked by Michael Brown, as Wilson told it, is “unbelievable” and “doesn’t add up.”
“Once the chase had begun and ‘stop or I’ll shoot’ turned into Brown charging back at Wilson, I believe Wilson only had one set of options available to him and the result is a guy with his whole life ahead of him is dead,” Howe concluded — a conclusion, however, that rests on the believability of Wilson’s story.
As a chart compiled by PBS Newshour shows, Wilson’s story was contradicted at least in part by numerous other grand jury witnesses. In fact, according to the chart, 16 witnesses testified that Brown had his hands in the air when Wilson “fired upon” him, while only two said he did not.
The chart also shows that 15 witnesses said that Wilson fired at Brown while the teenager was running away, while only four said he did not.
Nonetheless, Howe concluded that he would “not apologize for the clean conscience I’d have” after hypothetically shooting Mike Brown in the face in Ferguson on August 9.