General Question

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

What civil liberties have we lost?

Asked by SquirrelEStuff (9171points) September 17th, 2007

http://www.starbanner.com/article/20070917/NEWS/70917006/1053/BREAKING_NEWS

Everyone needs to watch this video!! This is very bad. We should all have many questions after watching this. Why did Kerry give up so easily? Are they both in Skull and Bones? WTF is going on here?

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13 Answers

skfinkel's avatar

That is a very upsetting video—the situation is just terrible. There was no help for that kid—no one was there to counter the police. Kerry sounded feeble at his mic. What is going on here?

kevbo's avatar

Yes, this has crossed my mind before, especially in light of that advance team manual that keeps protesters out of Bush’s sight. Are people allowed to make critical
comments or ask critical questions at these events anymore? If not, what is the justification? Even so, how impactful is that form of censorship in the big picture?

bob's avatar

This is possible misconduct by Campus Police, but is it a loss of civil liberties?

Here’s a more complete video to give you a little more context:
http://video.nbc6.net/player/?id=157250

Andrew Meyer was disrupting the event. He shouldn’t have been tasered. But he shouldn’t have resisted arrest, either.

Yes, Kerry and Bush were both in Skull and Bones. No, this isn’t an example of us losing civil liberties.

xgunther's avatar

Its the rise of the police state, similar to early Nazi Germany.

hossman's avatar

I’ll try to make this brief for a change. There are limits to the right of free speech. You are not permitted to shout “fire” in a theater. Mr. Meyer (look at bob’s link, it shows more of Mr. Meyer’s bad conduct) was not interested in what the event was intended to be, a Kerry speech followed by a Q&A. Mr. Meyer asks at least 8 different questions, all in an accusatory tone, and does not give Mr. Kerry an opportunity to exercise HIS right to free speech and respond. In fact, at one point Mr. Meyer says “I’m going to inform these people, THEN you can answer.” If that is what Mr. Meyer wishes to do, he should schedule his own debate event rather than disrupting this one. If I had been an audience member, I would have been offended by Mr. Meyer, even though I am no fan of Kerry, as bob well knows.

Before anyone laid a hand on him, Mr. Meyer repeatedly refuses to leave the mike, refuses to calm down, and refuses to give Mr. Kerry a chance to answer. The police then try to lead him to the side of the audience, he refuses to go. Then, even though he is surrounded by multiple officers, and is lawfully instructed to leave (they still haven’t tried to arrest him) he refuses.

Mr. Meyer then rushes toward the stage and Mr. Kerry. Quite honestly, Mr. Kerry here is significantly endangered by the lack of training of these police for this type of situation. They UNDERREACTED, placing Mr. Kerry in danger. If Mr. Kerry had had a Secret Service escort, Mr. Meyer would never have had an opportunity to rush toward the stage. Regardless, when he did so, the Secret Service would have swamped him while Mr. Kerry was rushed from the building. If he reached inside his clothing, got closer to Mr. Kerry, or otherwise behaved even more suspiciously, they would have been justified in shooting him dead.

You see, the sole duty of Mr. Kerry’s security should have been to protect the principal, Mr. Kerry. You in hindsight see a rude student who, it turns out, was embarrassing for Mr. Kerry but not a serious threat. The security cannot assume that. Mr. Meyer could have been a terrorist (they aren’t all surly Middle Eastern types). He could have been insane (he doesn’t look that different than Hinckley did). He could have had some secret stalker love crush on Mr. Kerry. Who knows? The point is, the security is supposed to assume the worst and react immediately. These police were not trained in such matters, so they gave Mr. Meyer way too many breaks.

They then again try to push him out of the auditorium, UNCUFFED. Huge mistake even for police. He could still be a threat to Mr. Kerry or the police. He could have accomplices. He could have a weapon stowed anywhere in the area. He should, at a minimum, been immediately cuffed and removed. Instead, they gave him plenty of opportunities to play around and resist arrest. Mr. Meyer was not only uncooperative, he repeatedly does everything he can to create a scene. Unfortunately, neither video can give a clear view of what exactly was happening when he was tasered, but it is clear he certainly wasn’t permitting his hands to be put into position to be cuffed, thus the tasering was, I believe, legally justified as a nonlethal submission effort. Actually, it was probably safer to taser him than the struggling that was going on, as it is very easy to accidentally suffocate someone, break a rib, rupture an organ, etc. in those conditions. As a former corrections officer, I’ve been there.

Regardless, they were, IMPROPERLY AND TOO GENEROUSLY, at one point just trying to rush him up the aisle and out. If he had simply left, he very well may not have been arrested at all. If he had simply asked a question and received an answer, none of this would have happened. If he had simply not insisted on making it the Andrew Meyer show, and calmly, reasonably exercised his right to free speech, and permitted others to do so as well, none of it would have happened. His “what did I do” mantra is both hypocritical and ingenuous. He knew exactly what he was doing, and provoked exactly the sort of conduct he intended. He got exactly the scene he wanted. He certainly could have asked a critical question or made a critical comment, but that wasn’t enough for him. Why should anyone have helped him break the law and disrupt a peaceful assembly. Not only was he guilty of disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, he violated the right to free speech and assembly of other persons present. There is no absolute right to free speech, you cannot express yourself to the detriment of the expression of others. There is no civil liberties violation here other than that justified by the danger and disruption posed by Mr. Meyer. If he had broken away from the police, moved toward the stage, and pulled a handgun out and shot Kerry, then everyone would wonder why the police didn’t do anything sooner.

And none of this is specific to Bush or Kerry. You may recall that during Clinton’s presidency, an elderly couple went up to Mr. Clinton at a fundraiser, and while Mr. Clinton was shaking hands with them, called him something to the effect of “a lying jerk” (I forget the precise details). They were immediately swamped by the Secret Service, arrested, and held without outside contact or being permitted the advice of legal counsel for 3 days. I don’t care who the President or the speaker is, unless the event was planned as an open debate, they are owed at least common courtesy, which Mr. Meyer clearly didn’t do. Further, he was an apparent security risk. In my opinion, these police should have resolved the matter by arresting and removing Mr. Meyer much sooner, without trying to “talk him down.” If Mr. Meyer wants to lecture or demonstrate, the place for that is outside the event. Hey, in the ‘80s I was called a racist by Rev. Jackson, forced out of a news conference and nearly arrested WHILE I WAS AN INVITED JOURNALIST because, after another reporter asked Gary Hart about the Donna Rice scandal, I asked first Sen. Paul Simon, then Rev. Jackson, if they had any similar problems with extramarital affairs. Since two Caucasians had been asked before Rev. Jackson, I still fail to see how it was a racist question. As we all know, turns out the good Rev. did have some problems in that regard.

And I failed to make it brief, but you did ask me the question.

hossman's avatar

I don’t want to make my answer any longer, but I thought chris might like to know I did a little research into the laws re conduct like this in the presence of the President or a Presidential candidate (I don’t know whether it would still apply to Mr. Kerry). I was curious because my father was arrested in D.C. at one point, by his account for embarrassing Robert McNamara with a copy of one of McNamara’s memos re the Vietnam War, while he was in a meeting with McNamara as a member of the “Remember the Pueblo” Committee. I don’t have space here for a full analysis, but I was really amazed at how far your civil liberties are impeded if you make a threat on the President or a Presidential candidate. The usual due process goes right out the window. None of this is recent or can be attributed to a single administration. If you are a credible threat, they can pretty much give you an expedited hearing and hold you relatively indefinitely. Scary stuff.

hossman's avatar

Did somebody delete the end of chris’ question, referring to me? It’s not important, but I’m curious why. Maybe we’re not supposed to be directing questions to specific people.

hossman's avatar

I’ve looked at three different videos of this incident now, from three different camera angles, and the pivotal moment is clear to me. None of the police officers had done anything to Mr. Meyer other than pull his arms down and try to push him or pull him out of the auditorium at first. None of them tried to arrest him, as they were doing a pretty half-hearted attempt at controlling him. Then, as the (for lack of a name) very large African-American officer is “hugging” him (he doesn’t seem to be gripping very hard) and pushing Meyer up the aisle to the back doors, just as they get to the back Mr. Meyer breaks free and either punches or elbows that officer, possibly inadvertently. It is at that point that that officer then makes a serious attempt and takes Meyer down to the ground. Seems to me Meyer gave them sufficient provocation at that point to be arrested for disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct and battery. Then he resists arrest.

Perhaps Mr. Meyer is fortunate Al Franken wasn’t present. Didn’t Franken rush and pin down some guy who was heckling a Democratic speaker?

Poser's avatar

What intrigued me about this is that the video Chris posted was far more provocative than the longer one posted by Bob. The short version showed exactly what Chris wanted people to see while leaving out this kid’s most telling rantings. I’ll admit, I got a little fired up watching the shorter version, but by the end of the longer version, I saw the kid for what he is—a typical conspiracy theorist (or, more accurately, a conspiracy theory follower) who’s not interested so much in facts as image and melodrama (and probably his 15 minutes).

My favorite part was, “Ask them ‘where’s the guy that was arrested at the protest’” (Was it a protest?) “Ask them where I am, because they’re going to try and kill me!”

I think the police were well within the spirit of the first amendment to arrest the kid. One question for the resident attorney, though. Does the fact that UF is a state school make any difference to a free-speech violation claim? Are the University police officers government employees, and does that even matter?

hossman's avatar

At first, Mr. Meyer looked a lot like one of the comedy actors at baratsandberetta.com, and he was so histrionic, I thought the whole thing might be some sort of planned stunt.

The University police officers are government employees, and it does matter, as they are then given limited immunity, and are tougher to sue, like any police officer.

Considering the recent university campus shooting spree, I’m surprised they didn’t react harder and quicker.

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

By now, I have seen the longer video. I apologize and did try to delete your name, I couldnt but I guess you cant use names in questions. When I saw the video, the first thing I did was question its authenticity because you can not see John Kerry. I did a google search and found the article in 3 or 4 local newspapers. I saw what happened in the short video and reacted just like everyone else, I thought it was a great example to show about civil liberties being lost. The thing that I really thought was interesting, and still do, is that they grabbed him right after he asked about Bush and Kerry being in Skull and Bones. Call me a “conspiracy theorist” if you want, but check out this video.
http://youtube.com/watch?v=0D-ai59EQHw
Since the elections of 2000 and 2004, we are headed in a terrible direction and I have felt and read for years about the many problems in those elections, including the admission by former top aide to Karl Rove, Sarah Taylor, of caging during the 2004 elections.

hossman's avatar

No apology necessary, chris, I didn’t know it was against the rules. I think “Don’t taser me, Bro!” is probably the best quote of the year, and I would love to have a T-shirt that had “Don’t Taser me, Bro!” on the front and “John Kerry – electrifying voters. . . one at a time.” on the back.

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