The tasering of Andrew Meyer at the University of Florida continues to generate commentary and reactions worldwide. On YouTube we can watch countless videos, including this protest rally at the University of Florida.
Through it all, Privacy Maven finds it remarkable that discussion of the deeper issues is somewhat eclipsed by caustic banter about Andrew Meyer’s alleged quest for instant fame and the derision that affords him.
Perhaps it is indicative of our culture to interpret an event such as this as a quest for fame and attention and to judge it accordingly. A whole genre of television programming, “Reality TV” is based on such a concept. A decade or so ago, who would have believed that large audiences would watch people endure grueling and humiliating experiences on camera, such as they do on programs like Survivor, America’s Biggest Loser, The Apprentice or American Idol, to name just a few such programs.
We often speak of a lack of civility in our society, the lack of politeness, and the commonness of coarser language. How easy it is to vilify Andrew Meyer as a publicity seeker or a conspiracy nut or a prankster. How easy, apparently also, to witness someone, unarmed and already under police control, tasered unnecessarily, and say he got what he deserved.
The U.S. Constitution asserts otherwise, not willing to make exceptions for alleged publicity seekers or pranksters.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
John Pozadzides, points out the deeper issues here. He presents a detailed analysis of the phenomena of tasering, of the history of use and misuse of this police tactic:
- People will be tasered long before it’s a necessity. Think about it, if you were a cop why even bother to break a sweat when you know you could probably control a situation physically? All you have to do is taser the hell out of someone and they’ll do anything you say.
- People will be intimidated and threatened by the use of tasers. Most people are not that scared of police officers because they feel reasonably sure they won’t be shot (like with a gun). But now you can’t be sure that even arguing with a cop won’t result in a tasering.
- Women will be tasered and raped while they are conscious but unable to react. If you were a rapist you could use one of these to rape anyone you wanted. This guy did, and it happened to this homeless woman and two women in D.C.
- Men will be tasered and then beaten without being able to defend themselves. Want proof? Here is a group of “private security guards” hired by the Israeli government using stun guns against unarmed Rabbis.
- More people will die as a direct result of taser use. In the US nearly 200 people have already died after being shot by a taser gun, including a mentally ill homeless woman who was stunned with a Taser while on the ground in handcuffs.
Privacy Maven has to wonder, how would the significant, history making protests of years gone by unfolding in this atmosphere? Have we become so jaded that we do not recognize violations of civil rights, trampling of First Amendment freedom of speech? Are we too quick to accept the encroaching power of the state to intrude upon our rights and our lives as Paul Craig Roberts of LewRockwell.com asserts:
The question we should all ask is why did a United States Senator just stand there while Gestapo goons violated the constitutional rights of a student participating in a public event, brutalized him in full view of everyone, and then took him off to jail on phony charges?
Kerry’s meekness not only in the face of electoral fraud, not only in the face of Bush’s wars that are crimes under the Nuremberg standard, but also in the face of police goons trampling the constitutional rights of American citizens makes it completely clear that he was not fit to be president, and he is not fit to be a US senator.
Usually when police violate constitutional rights and commit acts of police brutality they do it when they believe no one is watching, not in front of a large audience. Clearly, the police have become more audacious in their abuse of rights and citizens. What explains the new fearlessness of police to violate rights and brutalize citizens without cause?
The answer is that police, most of whom have authoritarian personalities, have seen that constitutional rights are no longer protected. President Bush does not protect our constitutional rights. Neither does Vice President Cheney, nor the Attorney General, nor the US Congress. Just as Kerry allowed Meyer’s rights to be tasered out of him, Congress has enabled Bush to strip people, including American citizens, of constitutional protection and incarcerate them without presenting evidence.
How long before Kerry himself or some other senator will be dragged from his podium and tasered?
Absolutely. When do citizens react? Or will they react at all? Have we reached the stage in which images from the 1960s, of civil rights protesters are hosed down and attacked by dogs no longer trouble us?
At the time, such images were shocking and outraged the world.
Are we too jaded now to feel moral outrage over these unfolding events, frozen in black and white images?
What would happen today? Today are we so eager to continue in name calling — publicity seeker, conspiracy nut — to forget the importance of freedom, indeed that we even have the freedom to express opinions and label Andrew Meyer as we choose.