Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Fool worship

By now we've all seen ad nauseam the video of one "The" Andrew Meyer being manhandled and tasered by University of Florida police at an appearance by Senator, and erstwhile presidential candidate, John Kerry.

The celebrated vedio was shot by one Kyle Mitchell, a U of F grad student and stringer for the Gainesville-Sun.

In a comment at Google News, which I copied, pasted and e-mailed at approximately 1:57 PM CDT, and now seemingly taken down, Mitchell writes:
As more and more inquiries are being made into who Andrew Meyer really is, the picture of a young man capable and willing to manipulate this weakness of modern media becomes ever more clear.

An avid prankster and politico (emphasis added, ets), Meyer is a regular at local Gainesville political events. In the past, he has stood on a major street corner with a sign proclaiming "Harry dies" in the final book of the Potter series. His personal website lists interests that include "getting wasted."

Moments before publicly berating Senator Kerry - who was gracious enough to allow the question beyond the allotted time available - he gave his own video camera to a complete stranger nearby, simply to ensure that the incident would be recorded. There are also some who have said that he was warned of his impending arrest, though he repeatedly asks "Why are you arresting me?" while it was happening.

Mitchell, however, forgets "The" Andrew Meyer's most unforgettable line, "Don't Tase me, bro!" And to my ears Meyer's plea is as sincere as Bre'r Rabbit's wish to not be thrown in the briar patch.

Yet many commentators in the blogoshpere averred that "The" Andrew Meyer is a First Amendment loving patriot, a new Patrick Henry. Some have even likened "The" Andrew Meyer to Christ. To which I can only say, Key-Rist!

Some bloggers, including esteemed investigative reporter Greg Palast, squarely place the lion's share of the blame for "The" Andrew Meyer's restraint, tasering and arrest on Senator Kerry's shoulders. Patently absurd. Yet to my rhetorical question, "What would you have Kerry do? Leap from the stage and throttle the cops with his barehands?," there has been more than one response to the affirmative. Again, patently absurd.

But finally the truth of this incident may be slipping out. Clarissa Jessup, the complete stranger to whom "The" Andrew Meyer handed his video camera to just before the incident said in a CNN interview:
"John kerry did try to interfere with the police. at one point, police where holding on to meyers. kerry got to a point where he almost lost his composure and said officer guy. you, let him go. i do want to hear his question, i do want to hear to what he has to say. i do want to answer him. that was at the point the officers said will pull you aside to ask your question. but as he was attempting to ask his question. the officers themselves appeared to me to make themselves clear not allowing him to stay and hear the question and yelling into his ear."
And as noted in a news story by Andrew Tran in The South-Central Florida, "The cameras did not catch Meyer cutting off a student five words into a question, said Kathleen Shea, a junior who attended the forum."

Concludes Mitchell, who was there after all:In the opinion of this eyewitness, both were just as wrong as they were right. Yet, in this instance, it is the police that are accountable to the public, and the ire they now face is the result. Meyer must only face jail, a judge, and himself in the mirror the next morning.

So, sorry, if I disappoint and conclude that this incident was never one of thwarting First Amendment rights or of stifling legitimate dissent but of overzealous, undertrained campus cops throwing their weight around.

So in my book, "The" Andrew Meyer is not a hero of the First Amendment but a fool. And he's laughing at us all.

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