Tuesday, September 18, 2007

More passion (and Tasering) than norm for Kerry

Was there a moment yesterday when Sen. John Kerry said to himself, "If Ohio had gone differently three years ago, I could've been sitting at my desk in the Oval Office. Instead, I'm here in Florida with this college student ranting at me?" The student, 21-year old Andrew Meyer, of course is the young man whose Tasering at the University of Florida at Gainesville has been seen around the world thanks to YouTube and cable news.

Suffice it to say Kerry's efforts in Ohio had been able to better focus the kind of passion Meyer displayed, maybe the senator would've become president after all.

It seems fair to say there were bad decisions all around in that university auditorium. Meyer decided to inflict his not-so-winning personality on the rest of the audience and on Kerry as though his free-speech rights trumped their right to civil discussion.

The campus police appeared to escalate the situation unnecessarily, first putting their hands on Meyer who, to that point, had done nothing more than commandeer the microphone and make a nuisance of himself, then tasering him when there were appeared to be enough police to force him from the auditorium through alternate methods.

(Note to Meyer: Some black men find it jarring to be called "bro" by a white man who's not a friend or family member. It seems condescending or unnecessarily racial. If the black man is a police officer holding a Taser, it's much safer to go with "sir" or "officer."

From the sound of it, Kerry kept his usual formal bearing (read stiff) throughout the entire affair, trying to cool down the situation by asking everyone to "calm down" a message that sounded like it was meant for Meyer and the cops as much as the crowd.

However, the joke he made while Meyer was on the floor with police attempting to restrain him was weird in a typically Kerry way. "Unfortunately, he's not available to come up here and swear me in as president." Thud.


That video made me sick to my stomach. You are witnessing George Bush's America, an Orwellian police state where descent= treason. That legacy will live long past the Bush years, and may in the end be his most important (I didn't say positive) contribution to society.

Several years ago here in DC, many of my friends, while peacefully demonstrating against the Iraq War, started being commandeered by police on horseback until all their exits were blocked. They were then cuffed, thrown into a scorching bus, and left there for between 7-26 hours.

Yes, the police chief did eventually resign over it. But if you think this type of Gestapo behavior does not have a chilling effect on democracy, you are willfully turning a blind eye.

The hand-picked crowds enforced by political hacks with no legitimate legal authority, the echo-chamber media which doesn't report but rather creates the stories, the endless questioning of patrotism for any political speech... It is all straight out of 1984.

America should be ashamed at what we have become. Haven't the terrorists already won? We're told their goal was to make us change our way of life. Haven't they?

We suspend the basic tenets of the Constitution and a common law concept of justice that dates back to the time of the Magna Carta. We invade and occupy sovereign nation who have not attacked us without a Declaration of War. We live in constant fear of the next "threat" lurking around the corner.

In short, we have already given up much of it means to be America, and the world knows is.

I watched the video a few times this morning on CNN. From what I saw, Mr. Meyer deserved what he got. When 3-5 officers order you to stand down and you fail to comply, they are authorized to convince you to do so. In my opinion, the officers showed a great deal of restraint in not tasering the boy immediately. In the video, an officer drew down on Mr. Meyer and subsequently holstered his weapon. It was Mr. Meyer's continued resistance that led to his being tasered. If any disciplinary action should be metted out, it should be against Mr. Meyer and not the officers. On video, these individuals showed restraint, compassion and eventually the resolve to do their jobs. They should be congratulated... not thrown under the bus by a bunch of students only out to protect themselves from possibly getting tasered in the future.

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