18 September 2007

Free Speech! Arrests Included!

Here's the situation. Kerry is speaking in Florida. Young guy asks him a series of questions ("Why did you cede to Bush when there were reported voting irregularities?" "Why not impeach Bush before he invades Iran?" "Were you a member of skull and bones at Yale?"). It could be that there is more to the story, but it appears to be a typical open forum kind of impassioned, somewhat rambling sort of speech, sort of question.

This video captures what happened next. The police forcibly escort him away from the microphone and then taser him at the back of the hall. Kerry shows why he lost the election by demonstrating an apparent ignorance of what is going on to the very guy who just asked him a question - at the least demonstrating the tone deaf approach that left even his biggest supporters feeling fairly ambiguous about his candidacy. (If Bush goes down in history as the worst president, what will that say of Kerry's candidacy?)

I blame this in part on the now mindless competition to get tough on crime. We've hired a ton of police officers and they, quite simply, don't have a lot to do. The trivial becomes a big deal and even a guy at a microphone attracts a half dozen police officers.

A part of me is fairly incensed at a society that has become this intolerant of speech and this tolerant of arrests for no good reason. (The guy hollers at one point, before being tasered, that they don't need to arrest him because he'll walk out of there.) But a part of me is delighted to be living in this age of YouTube. As the public sector is made more public - as even arrests are subject to the review and scrutiny of the general public - this kind of nonsense will have to wane. And that's good news.


LSD said...

That is disturbing.

To your comments about Kerry, it seems like he could have either used his mike to diffuse the situation by giving caution to the officers and/or calming the kid, but instead he assumed the role of an even-toned disembodied-voice that, juxtaposed with the show of institutional muscle, seemed sort of Orwellian.

-If I'm not mistaken, I think he actually tried to make a joke about the kid not being available to swear him in as President.


Ron Davison said...

Orwellian is right. (I should have had you write this posting.)

I sometimes wonder if Kerry isn't on some really wonderful beta blockers. It's not just George who makes me think that policy-makers and wanna be policy-makers should be drug tested.

Anonymous said...

It looks like what they did was rough him up for being inconvenient, then when he fought back they nailed him for "resisting arrest."

It's also yet another case where tasers were the first choice instead of the last resort. They were never intended to be on-the-spot corporal punishment, but that's what they're being used for. They really need to take those toys away- clearly, cops won't use them responsibly.

flametree said...

This is what happens when the police are used as hired security for politicians rather than public servants of the people.

Interesting to note that there was very little response from the audience to the man's cries for help.

Ron Davison said...

agreed and agreed. if you resist a stupid arrest, you've given them a reason to arrest you. a catch-22.

I, too, was unsettled by how the audience sat by passively. You could tell that a few jumped to their feet to protest, but there seemed to be more who were video taping this event than actually protesting it. Odd.

David said...

I don't blame the audience for holding back. I blame the people we call "leaders" in this day and age for vascillating and not knowing what to do and instead making jokes about it. And then I'd ask the young man, what's your point? I don't call this kind of interruption "speech." I call it hazing or maybe nonsense and it should wane.