Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Everybody's an Expert.

Even me.

Today we have national “hero” Andrew Meyer. Yeah, the Florida college student who got himself tasered by the police after a John Kerry speech. I have problems with the reactions from either side of this one. The conservatives predictably paint the kid as a nuisance, as a life-long prankster who staged the whole thing and deserved everything he got. Others say he’s blameless, that he’s completely within his rights and the police should be prosecuted for assaulting Meyer and for violating his civil rights. There’s enough blame to go around, and as far as I’m concerned, it looks like everyone involved deserves some.

First of all, even on the first viewing of the video my impression was that Andrew Meyer was a douchebag. I’ll say right now that douchebaggery is not a taserable offense, as far as I know, or as far as I’m concerned. This kid was taking time at a question-and-answer session with a U.S. Senator to promote ideas, not ask a question. He was unnecessarily confrontational according to some reports, he bulled his way to the front of the line by others, and he didn’t ask a question—he asked a series of questions, prefaced by his endorsement of a book. Of course, accounts differ.

I’ve looked at a lot of the videos on YouTube, and they all seem to start with one of two events: Meyer thanking Kerry for coming to speak with them, or Meyer getting prodded down the aisle by the police. Unsurprisingly, those who display the first version support Meyer, and those displaying the second either denounce him or mock him. What I wanted to see, and what I never found, was video of the moments leading up to Meyer getting the microphone.

This passage from Michelle Malkin's blog is interesting, but since she’s a neocon psychopath, there’s no way to know if it’s even grounded in reality:

Senator Kerry was answering questions during the “question and answer stage” of his presentation when the audience was told there would only be one question left to be answered. After the question was answered, Senator Kerry stated the question and answer was over and thanked the audience for asking their questions. The approximate number of people in line asking questions was about 20, and Senator Kerry answered about 8 questions. All of the people standing in line started to dissipate and either sat back down or started to leave. As Senator Kerry was ending his speech, a man disrupted the senator by screaming, yelling, and flailing his arms. The man moved his way down the aisle yelling, “Why don’t you answer my questions, I have been waiting and listening to you speak in circles for the last two hours.”

"These officers are going to arrest me”. I didn’t see any officer directly next to him until I noticed Officer Wise walking down trying to get his attention. The man was screaming and yelling obscenities until Senator Kerry told him to calm down and that he would take his question, but he needed to calm down. At that point, the man stated, “You will take my question because I have been listening to your crap for two hours”.

And then this account by another blogger, which I also can’t confirm:

However, while Senator Kerry was responding to a student’s question, all of a sudden Meyer rushed to the microphone with cops in pursuit. At that point no one knew what was going on. Could he have a gun, a bomb? Immediately, Meyer began yelling into the microphone that he had been waiting in line forever and that Senator Kerry should “spend time to answer everyone’s questions!” Senator Kerry tried to calm the student down by telling him that he would “stay here as long as it takes to get the questions answered.”

And the Miami Herald has yet another take on the events:

The person in front of Meyer was told he would be the last person to speak, Orlando said. Meyer said he was upset with that, so Kerry gave him the OK. When he took the mike, Meyer then asked Kerry several questions.
And then the sports fan community has to have its semiliterate say as well:

The Gainesville police handled this kid as well as the Vols handled the Gators offense on Saturday. This is all over the news, but just in case you hadn't seen this mess, here you go.

Granted this kid was a nuisance, but why have a forum when you can't ask questions, whether they be poor or not? And while Andrew Meyer needed to be subdued somehow, I hardly think a taser was necessary. The guy was hardly capable of bodily harm to anyone other than himself.

Go Gators!

So did he disrupt the proceedings even before he got to the microphone? And if Kerry gave him the go-ahead does it even matter? And if he spewed three or four questions rather than the one question any normal person may have been satisfied with, does that mean he should take the juice? I'd like to see earlier video if any exists. There are a lot of questions here, and too many people talk like they have the definitive take. Like these conservative knuckleheads:

He talked tough at the microphone set up for questions, but once he went on for too long, the mic was shut off and he was told to hit the bricks. Instead he threw a fit like a ten year old and that's when Campus cops stepped in.

Meyer wants to know why he can't continue to disrupt the meeting and continues to scream why am I being arrested? Sounding like a charter member of the tin foil hat crowd he tells cops that "people know I'm here," as he believes he is likely headed for let's say Guantanamo.
Honestly, every video I’ve seen has the police behind him as he starts talking. Is there a sinister plot? Or did he cause trouble even before he got to the microphone? Is he just causing trouble? Is he a patriot? Why are those police already there? Did John Kerry give them a message via telepathy?

I can’t pretend to know. I can’t imagine why anyone at this point is drawing conclusions. I can’t imagine Meyer is any more frustrated than I am about the war in Iraq, or the results of the last two elections, or Kerry’s quick surrender. I can't imagine anyone is. I'm not saying Meyer was wrong to do what he did, but if he did that not knowing what the possibilities were, he was terribly naive. Which also isn't a crime, punishable by taser or any other type of pain-causing device.

No matter how it started, if Meyer thought he could push cops and not get subdued, if he thought he could continue to resist while being escorted out without the cops finishing the job, he’s a moron. If he realized what the outcome would be and he took the taser on principle, then good for him. I know cops. I know the ones I know don’t like to hit people with that jolt, because in training they have to take it themselves.

But cops make mistakes, too. I’d hate to think that, even if this was handled poorly, that the police are made out to be—what, the Gestapo? Bush’s stooges? Kerry’s underlings who are trying to keep Kerry’s secret-society ties to Bush secret? Ugh.

I’ve even seen this mentioned with Kent State as a rallying cry. If it is, and if people decide this will motivate them to make change, then great. I’m urging that change myself. I welcome it. But really, a jackass in Florida riding the lightning for a few seconds is nowhere near four dead in Ohio. Nowhere near.

End of rant. For now.


dchmielewski said...

I thought it was police thuggery when I first heard about it. After I saw the video and what an ass he was being, even after being told he was getting the juice if he didn't settle down, I felt a lot less sorry for him and a little more understanding of the campus rent-a-cops.

Was the tasering probably a little excessive? Probably. Should 6 cops have been able to subdue an asshole kid not possessing superhuman drug induceds strength without juicing him? Uh, yah! Personally I would have rather seen them use a more skilled, less "juicy" means to subdue him. Nightstick up the ass maybe ;-)

Anyway, yes any comparison to Kent State is ridiculous, this wasn't really even an anti-war protest and his heart still beats, even if it skipped a few for 10 seconds.

"Don't taser me, bro". How pathetic is that?

Jim said...

Yeah. No sympathy for this kid. If he'd been calm he wouldn't have gotten tasered. I laughed at the "Don't taser me, bro" line and waited giddily for it to happen. ZAP! Ahh, sweet satisfaction.

Honestly, no one takes ranting lunatics seriously. If the kid had something to say, he could have gone about it far more maturely, especially in the forum presented. The way he acted was an insult to Kerry and the organizers.

The kid needs to grow up.

Nathan said...

I'm one of those making the Kent State comparison, and, as I've said, I think it sticks. Although students were killed at Kent State and not in Florida, this is actually besides the point. Distilling the two events down to their core, they are very much the same: authorities stepped into an act of free speech and used violence to suppress it. I had hoped that this video would prompt outrage and action, and for the short term it did, but it has been so buried underneath crap news that the moment may have passed.

I think the videos that have been released show us everything we need to know. That microphone was up there for questions and answers. It is possible that others had been told to sit down, but since Kerry acknowleges Meyer on tape and takes his question, it seems another moot point.

Was the kid an asshole? I don't know. After watching and rewatching the video several times, he did not start shouting or getting rowdy until the police began violating his civil rights. Until then he was calm and polite although he did begin to turn the question into a speech. If he had taken a Martin Luther King approach and just stood there and taken the police intervention without shouting he probably would have come off better. But if I place myself in his situation I probably would not have been nearly as quiet . . . or as pacifistic.

Sometimes it is appropriate to scream and shout. More and more I get to think that we ought to start screaming at people like Kerry, or for that matter Pelosi, Obama, Clinton, and others in positions of power who will not be the leaders that we need them to be.

Jason said...


My disagreement with your position stands, but I'll spend a little time in another post explaining exactly why.

My earlier dismissal was a bit abrupt. I'll be calmer this time. I promise.