Monday, September 24, 2007

9-24-07: Freedom of Speech vs. Tomfoolery

You’ve probably heard of Andrew Meyer, the student who was tasered last week at a John Kerry speech at the University of Florida. He’s become a bit of an internet star for the incident, and that’s fine with me. That’s his right. You can’t violate that. But that’s not necessarily in the Constitution, and neither are the rights he and many pundits say were violated.

During the question and answer portion of Kerry’s speech, Meyer cut to the front of the line and went on a rant about how Kerry shouldn’t have conceded the election so early in 2004 because of all these voting machine malfunctions (which were probably discovered weeks later) AND that Kerry should move to impeach Bush AND that he and Bush are probably members of the Skull and Bones society. Meyer became a nuisance, and University of Florida police officers came in to subdue him. He then began to resist arrest, which is a crime, and they were forced to take action. Should they have used a taser? Probably not. That’s a bit excessive. But that’s not the real issue being debated.

The issue is that people claim his right to free speech was violated. Let’s take a look at that. Here’s what the Constitution says (Article 1):

“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.”

What does that say to you? It’s pretty straightforward, and can be applied to a multitude of scenarios. It’s a powerful law that many consider the greatest of our Constitution rights, and I agree with that. It protects us against the Federal government from prohibiting our basic rights to religion, speech, and the press, as well as peaceable assembly and petition. What it does NOT do is prevent any lesser body, such as the University of Florida, from enforcing their own rules. In this case, Meyer went too long and refused to step down when asked. Why the moderator didn’t take action is beyond me, but that’s all hindsight. The police took action, and he resisted. He was NOT being denied his right to speak by the university. They let him talk. He just went too long. He then became a nuisance, then resisted arrest, THEN was tasered.

Apparently Meyer has a history of tomfoolery and general pranks. So his credibility is questionable. His rant was marvelously delusional, so his intelligence is questionable. Why were there cameras in the crowd, and why did it seem like it was staged? Here’s a white kid who tried to make a scene, and succeeded. Good for him, but I think he’s an idiot. I don’t think he needed to be tasered, but he still did something stupid and deserved to be taken away. It’s ultimately his fault that he was tasered, because he put himself in the situation. I applaud the UF police for taking action, because we shouldn’t support anarchy. But… tasering is a bit much. Maybe next time they should just beat the shit out of the kid in front of his classmates. That’d be more… civilized.

This is a completely different topic, but if Andrew Meyer was black, or Asian, or Arabic, do you think the same questions would be asked? That’s a completely racial issue that’s been presented many, many times. This situation is different. I just thought it’d be interesting the think what would happen had he not been a spoiled white kid.

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