Thursday, September 20, 2007

Is This Happening in America????

John Kerry's talk on a Florida university campus drew an outspoken response from a student who believed there were certain things Kerry could and should have done about the election he lost, about voter suppression and about impeaching Bush for the war. Yes, the student was loud and his aim was to make some strong political statements and ask some tough questions of Kerry (ok, so he also threw in a question about the skulls and bones). As he correctly points out, Kerry spoke for a long enough time, his few minutes should not be begrudged him.

What completely amazes me is that his refusal to not give up the mike resulted in the police dragging him away bodily without response from Kerry or the other students present- other than to jeer and clap. There were enough people there so that if everyone or even a large proportion had stood up to the police, the police would have been helpless and would not have administered electric shock to the student Andrew Mayer. Even if the students could not have prevented it, I cannot imagine that except for the one female student you hear screaming "You can't do that," not one other person did anything to protest what unfolded on youtube as a horrific and extremely distressing event. Were these students somehow under the impression that this was all a game (a lot of laughter and general bedlam is heard in the background)? How is it that no one got up and overpowered the police when and after force and the taser were used upon Mayer? This is exactly what happens in oppressive states where people stand by when someone else is singled out and targeted by figures of authority.

What is even more disturbing is that John Kerry is on stage throughout this event making ineffectual noises and not preventing the travesty unfolding before his very own eyes. This harms American credibility to protest similar abuses of human rights and suppression of free speech in the world. How can America stand up and point its finger at the police brutality of citizens elsewhere when it condones such violence against its own? Kerry has sunk to a new, unrecoverable low in my opinion. This was not a violent student as one can see on the youtube clip. And Kerry's efforts at humor (he says "I'll answer his question. Unfortunately he is not available to come up here and swear me in as president..." leave one wondering whether he could hear and see what had to be unfolding in front of his eyes. Glasses and hearing aid, John? You were a counterpoint to the authority the police wielded and could really have lead by example.

On youtube and elsewhere, justifications are being provided by UF students for non-action, claiming that Mayer was a known prankster who came into the event sans ticket and cut into the line of questioners. It doesn't matter if he was rude, obnoxious and generally disruptive. None of these are crimes and deserving of the police treatment we are witness to. Not only was Mayer, forcibly removed, taken down and tasered, he was also jailed overnight. The police treatment itself was deserving of a lot more reaction than we see from anyone else present. Why are we turning into sheep that won't do anything when we see someone being tortured and taken down??

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