Don't Trample the Rights of Law-Abiding Milkshake Owners Who Want Milkshakes for Self-Defense UPDATED

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz
U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz photo courtesy of Florida House of Representatives
Update, November 19: Amanda Kondrat'yev, the woman who threw a cup at Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz back in June, has been sentenced to 15 days in federal custody after pleading guilty to assault.

On Twitter, Kondrat'yev thanked supporters for getting her "through this SlushieGate madness."

"15 days jail, 1 yr probation, $500 fine. Not ideal, but I will survive," she wrote.v

Gaetz, meanwhile, tweeted that he was "pleased" with the sentence.

"Physical assault has no place in our political discourse, and if individuals choose to engage in such activities at our events they will be prosecuted," he said in a short statement.

Over the weekend, some sort of Antifa-allied criminal threw what appears to be a cup of cranberry juice at Florida Panhandle Congressman Matt Gaetz. You might be tempted to laugh. You might say that, when covered in lukewarm Ocean Spray, he looks like the melting Nazi from the end of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. But don't snicker — nothing about this is funny. No one should laugh when picturing a half-empty cup of sugary juice walloping the side of Gaetz's tombstone-size head in slow motion. Don't do it.
This is no laughing matter. In the coming weeks, political pundits and dark-money groups will soon begin debating drink-control regulations, licensing requirements for slushie dispensers, or added legal penalties for drink throwers — all framed as so-called commonsense beverage-safety legislation. But this is nothing but a ruse to strip you of your right to go to town on an extra-large McFlurry in the safety of your car.

Instead, to protect vulnerable people like Matt Gaetz, it's time to place a throwable 22-ounce drink in the hands of every law-abiding citizen to scare any alt-left whackjobs out there from picking up a Frosty at the Wendy's drive-thru. We must create a world where anyone who raises their hand to throw an extra-large bubble tea at a conservative lawmaker will know that, if they do so, law-abiding drink owners will spray them with expired packets of Hi-C Ecto Cooler. It's the only way we can defend ourselves without trampling on America's long, proud tradition of beverage ownership.

We must otherwise do nothing to impede Americans' rights to walk right up to men like Matt Gaetz, dump an entire mason jar full of homemade lemonade on the lawmaker's lap, and scream he's "peed himself." Gaetz surely understands this logic — mere days after the Parkland massacre, he defended the National Rifle Association on Twitter and has since repeatedly claimed we must protect the rights of gun owners to defend themselves. He later claimed Donald Trump's border wall would somehow cut gun violence more than gun-safety laws would.
While details about this weekend's incident aren't entirely clear yet, this act of juice-based aggression appears to be a takeoff on the new British practice of "milkshaking." In the past few weeks, alt-left scum have "milkshaked" several prominent U.K. conservatives, including Brexit pusher Nigel Farage, far-right leader Tommy Robinson, and Gamergate personality Carl "Sargon of Akkad" Benjamin.

Reporters initially assumed Gaetz too had been milkshaked, but photos later revealed the drink to be some sort of juice concoction. The Northwest Florida Daily News reported yesterday that 35-year-old Amanda Leigh Kondrat’yev was arrested and charged with battery in connection with the incident.
An understandable uproar now exists about the practice in Britain, and for good reason. Milkshaking is clearly a slippery slope to other, harder-core forms of political violence: slapping lawmakers with whole salmon, winging pizza pies Frisbee-style at campus conservatives, blowing vuvuzelas at Nazis, covering campaign vehicles in giant African land snails, releasing pigeons labeled "One," "Two," and "Four" inside a political town hall. Again, not one of those ideas is funny at all. They are attacks on the dignity of conservatives as cutting and dangerous as any bullet or blade.

Lawmakers such as Gaetz understand the danger the heinous practice of milkshaking poses to lawmakers such as himself. On Twitter, he called the thrown cup an "assault" and shared a tweet from a blog run by InfoWars contributor Jacob Engels.

"It starts with milkshakes and will end with far worse," Engels' Central Florida Post tweeted. "Political violence from the alt-left is becoming an epidemic."
Gaetz and his allies might now be tempted to craft legislation cracking down on would-be milkshakers. The restrictions might begin with added arrest penalties for anyone who milkshakes a sitting lawmaker. But where does that slippery slope end? Would you criminalize anyone who holds a milkshake within 500 feet of a campaign rally? What about milkshake ingredients? What's to stop a tyrannical government from busting into the home of a law-abiding citizen simply because that person owns milk, ice cream, and a Vitamix? Well, we'd be nearing the world that George Orwell warned us about in his seminal classic, 1984.

That means the only other option for self-defense is to place a tactical beverage in the hands of every man, woman, and child. Perhaps some sort of cola-flavored Icee. Just spitballing ideas here.

In the meantime, we'll be praying for you, Matt. And for your dry cleaner.
KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.