September 18, 2007
We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it. – Edward R. Murrow
The cute new bumper sticker reads, “Be nice to America, or we will bring democracy to your country next.” Humor aside, the deterioration of civil liberties in the United States of America has so far eroded that we have precious little left that is democratic to bring to any country. So it was for Andrew Meyer yesterday in this country. Andrew Meyer was a student at the University of Florida. That means that he, or at least someone in his family paid the University of Florida for his attendance at that school where he could pursue higher learning in what is supposed to be the freest country in the world. Along came John Kerry yesterday to speak to the students about varied topics such as Iraq and the Middle East. After his speech which covered a couple of hours, Senator Kerry was gracious enough to open the floor for questions. That is where democracy and dissent took a 45 to the head.
Andrew Meyer came to the microphone and began a long statement about voting irregularities in the 2004 presidential election, of which Kerry was the “losing” candidate. Those of us, who follow alternate news for the sake of the truth, know that Meyer actually was understating the extent of the irregularities. The true fact is that the 2004 election was stolen. That theft was deliberative and goes far beyond “irregular.” As we also know, Senator Kerry ran his campaign swearing to us all, that he would not rest until every vote was counted. Yet there he was conceding after mere hours while still staring at massive voter fraud and holding over a million dollars specifically raised for contesting the election. As such, Kerry became an accomplice to the theft of the 2004 election and Andrew Meyer was merely asking the same question I would have asked Kerry if I had the opportunity. His reward for daring to buck the establishment and practice democracy in an open forum at the college that he pays tuition to attend? He was dragged away by campus police an arrested. Meyer understandably was upset at the Stalinist response and kept shouting in disbelief. Undeterred, the SIX brave police officers proceeded to tackle him to the ground as Kerry tried to answer his question. Still not satisfied that Meyer did not simply cave into this violation of his civil liberties, the valiant officers proceeded to taser him with 50,000 volts of electricity, while they already had him successfully subdued.
Did you get that America? A student who was attending an open forum at a school that he paid to attend, was asking a legitimate question during a question and answer period and was assaulted and tasered by police. What kind of democracy do we think we are capable of spreading anywhere in the world if this is what we practice at home??? As I write this Chris Matthews is reporting that the rationale from the police is that Meyer was using obscenities toward them. Are you kidding me??? Here is the video clip of the incident:
I think I hear one obscenity at best and that was in Meyer’s incredulity towards what was happening to him. Either way, is that what is acceptable in society today? If you say a curse word you can expect to be tasered? That is morally reprehensible and completely unacceptable in a free and open society. The talking heads are framing the debate already incorrectly. This is not merely an incident threatening free speech. There are only two sides, what is right and what is wrong. There is no defense for the actions taken by the police. NONE. I do not want to hear about the kid’s website. I do not want to hear that he was annoying. I do not want to hear that he cursed. The discussion needs to start with why he had to be removed in the first place! He was asking a question during a Q and A and Kerry was completely willing to try and answer the question. The 800-pound gorilla in the room that no one is talking about is that the police chose to stop the question because it was critical toward Kerry. Do not kid yourself America. If the question had been a softball, there would be no issue. That is where we are in America today. It is not just about free speech. It is really about dissent. Dissent in America is simply not tolerated. Dissent in America is under attack. Dissent in America has been tasered into submission and with it, the democracy as a whole.
The officers involved should all be fired and prosecuted. There is no middle ground anymore. You find yourself unsure? Ask yourself a simple question. When you are out driving and see a police car in your rear view mirror what is your first feeling? Secure or worried? Thirty years ago it may have been secure but in latter-day America those that are supposed to protect us care more about protecting themselves and the establishment. What happened yesterday in Florida was criminal. Andrew Meyer was asking a legitimate question, during the appropriate time, on a campus that he paid to attend. In response he was assaulted with a deadly weapon. The six cowards who perpetrated the assault should face the same consequences as anyone else who uses deadly force inappropriately. Tasers themselves should be outlawed. If six trained police officers cannot figure out how to deescalate a situation or even subdue one 21-year old than they need to find another line of work. If they use judgment that entails shooting 50,000 volts into a kid who is already subdued than they need to find another line of work.
What is more disconcerting however is what this incident speaks to our society today. There is only one side that is right in this incident and that belongs to Andrew Meyer. The fact that we pretend there is a debate alludes to the fact that some people in this country would find this incident acceptable, which clearly indicates that they have missed the boat on what we are supposed to represent in America. It speaks volumes to where we are morally and ethically when some would support the tasering of a defenseless kid by six trained police officers for having the temerity to ask a question in a free society. While we all still wait for John Kerry to provide a lucid answer to why he turned his back on this country in 2004; democracy and dissent has been tasered into submission.
Just like other nations need to be nice to America for fear of us bringing democracy to their countries; we all need to be nice to those who steal our civil liberties for fear of 50,000 volts to silence the formerly proud dissent to which Edward R. Murrow once concerned himself with. As Murrow pointed out, it is the soul of America that is at risk.