Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Outrageous Taser Attack on Florida Student

A journalism student at the University of Florida was "tasered" by campus police after having the temerity to speak for almost one-and-one-half minutes about black disenfranchisement and voter fraud at a "town hall" meeting with John Kerry. Videos of the arrest and assault upon senior UF student Andrew Meyer is all over the web.

On Deadline at USA Today has a good number of links. The Independent Florida Alligator's editorial states:

"UPD's actions are inexcusable and out of line. It owes an apology not just to Andrew Meyer, but also to all of UF. We must be able to trust those who are supposed to protect us. We should not have to fear them."

Meanwhile, there are plenty of lies out there, beginning with the statement from the UF administration, about how Meyer deserved his treatment, was "out of control", was "crazy", "uncooperative", etc.

Below are a few videos you can watch that vividly portray what happened, and demonstrate a violent police intrusion upon free speech, and all under the blase eye of a major Democratic party politician/former presidential candidate.

Shockingly, Senator Kerry's spokesperson claims that the senator was unaware what was going on, the auditorium was so "huge", etc. I think the videos speak the lie to this. Also, disturbingly, there are many commenters online who feel Mr. Meyer deserved his treatment: because he didn't respect the time limits, because he talked "too long", because he wasn't asking a question, etc.

Let's be clear: he spoke for one minute and 34 seconds before he was arrested. He asked three questions. Most of his time was spent highlighting the disenfranchisement of voters in the 2004 election -- especially black voters -- and questioning why Kerry conceded the election so quickly, when ample evidence for doubt appeared even on election day.

In America, dissent must be done "properly", with the right "tone", and not step on the toes of big name politicians, or speak the truth about how democracy in this country is a sham. My suggestion is this: when someone speaks piously about the tone of a political opponent, or the breaking of rules meant to curtail free speech (like making "statements" instead of asking questions), this is almost always an excuse to deep-six the political content of the person's speech, and to delegitimize his or her rights.

For the record, a poll over at the Washington Post has over one-third of the respondents endorsing the statement that this attack on free speech is evidence we have become a police state. As the Bush administration lurches towards war with Iran, and continues its illegal and brutal occupation of Iraq, the police will be used to restrain and imprison opposition to the status quo. The arrest and electrical shock attack by police upon Andrew Meyer -- no matter what one thinks about his "personality" or whether he was perpetuating a "stunt" or not -- is a small taste of the barbarity this government serves up to those who would oppose its untrammeled rule.

If Meyer had been rambling for a minute or two about how we don't give enough resources to "our troops", he wouldn't have had his mic cut off. But he was speaking about black disenfranchisement and stolen elections: verboten!

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