It was probably only a matter of time before someone popped Brother Dean Saxton, Arizona's infamous "slut-shaming preacher," upside the head.
For 19-year-old Tabitha Brubaker, that time appears to have come on the afternoon of Tuesday, April 26, when she allegedly cracked a baseball bat into the side of Saxton's skull while he was evangelizing outside of Apollo High School in Glendale. The result reportedly required eight staples to repair.
The reaction to the assault on social media, is perhaps equally predictable. The Saxton-hating crowd is relishing the preacher's violent comeuppance.
Saxton, known far and wide for his rants against LGBT rights, abortion, Islam, and, well, women in general, recorded the incident on his cell phone and later uploaded the video to YouTube. The video, along with coverage following the alleged perpetrator's arrest, has loosed a fount of virtual vitriol.
The YouTube video begins like many of Saxton's visits to high schools, mosques, and other public places.
"Many of you at this high school are bad. You're wicked, you're evil," the preacher shouts into a megaphone.
"It's time to change your evil and wicked ways, to become a Christian, to stop dressing immodestly, to stop listening to the gangster-rap music, it's time to stop listening to the rock and roll music..."
About three minutes into the video, a crowd of students across the street starts yelling at Saxton to "go home!"
"Hey, I haven't even gotten started," he replies. "You need to get saved, you need to turn from your homosexuality, you need to turn from watching dirty stuff on the Internet — repent or go to Hell, Apollo!"
For the next 10 minutes, Saxton can be heard yelling about feminists, Islam, evolution, and how Jesus Christ hates sinning students.
At about minute 15, a man — subsequently identified in court records as a parent of an Apollo High student — enters the frame and begins trying to persuade Saxton to leave the area.
"Are you sick in the mind or something? These kids don't need to see this around here," the man says. "You lucky these kids … haven't knocked your ass out or something, to be honest with you. You need to take that shit and go somewhere else."
Minute 17: A loud, metallic crack is heard.
That's Brubaker's bat, connecting with Saxton's skull.
The cell-phone briefly shakes, shimmies, flips over. Onlookers gasp and scream ("Oh, my God!"). Moments later, cheers and applause break out as Saxton, a rivulet of blood oozing from his right temple, walks away.
"I shouldn't have stuck around," Saxton whispers to his phone, clearly stunned by the blow. Two young men join him as he walks down the sidewalk.
"I just said it's not okay to be gay, I mean, like very general," he says. "I didn't, you know, say anything specific. They just hate God."
Saxton did not respond to New Times' request for comment.
According to court documents, he reported the incident to the Glendale police. The school's assistant principal also spoke with officers and identified the alleged assailant as a former student.
A month later, Glendale police arrested Tabitha Brubaker at the house where she lives with her mother and sister.
Armed with a search warrant, officers found a small amount of marijuana and a glass pipe in Brubaker's car and booked her on three felony counts: aggravated assault, possession of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia. A Maricopa County Superior Court judge set bail at $10,000. Brubaker remains in jail.
Earlier this week, a friend, Halyna Viktoria, initiated an online fundraiser to help cover Brubaker's expenses. (Viktoria did not respond to requests for comment.) After two days, the effort had raised more than $2,800. A separate fund, set up by a group called the White Rose Society, has raised $6,800.
Meanwhile, the outcry on social media over Brubaker's arrest has been forceful — and largely one-sided:
"Fuck this guy, he had it coming. The only thing that pisses me off about this is I wasn't the one swinging the bat," one Facebook user commented under a news story about the incident.
"If your rhetoric involves telling women that they deserve to be raped, ask yourself this: 'Would my time be better spent lighting myself on fire?'" wrote another user.
A third: "Yes what she did was wrong, but it's understandable. If I was a woman and a victim of rape I would have stuck the bat where the sun don't shine."
Others detected irony in the situation, including the user who contributed this:
"Tabitha Brubaker, 19, was certainly wrong to respond with violence, but when you think about it, it was really Saxton’s fault by his own logic. Like men who can’t resist raping those dirty, dirty whores who go outside looking like sluts with their elbows and knees showing (the ones he says deserve to be raped), we really can’t blame Brubaker for giving into her inability to deal with misogynist bullsh*t and acting on her natural urge to bust this smarmy motherf*cker’s head open. After all, by preaching hate in front of a high school, didn’t he place himself in a scenario where he was likely to meet someone who wasn’t willing to deal with his particular brand of awfulness?"
When Saxton tweeted about the incident, he unleashed a barrage of retorts and even a hashtag, #FreeTabitha.
"If they 'deserve to get raped,' you deserve to have your head bashed in. Poetic justice, no?" reads one tweet.
"YESSS!! HAHAHA!!! Hear that hollow echo? That's just sheer vacancy up in that melon. You deserve far worse," opined another.
"At least now you can blame all of your stupid statements on your head injury," a third put in.
Watch the video Saxton uploaded to YouTube. (The bat incident occurs around minute 17.)