Tasered in Gainesville: A Free Speech Issue or a Personal Conduct Problem?
TV newscasts yesterday and today have been filled with video of University of Florida journalism student Andrew Meyer getting wrestled to the ground and tasered after asking questions during an appearance by former Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. See the AP story here.
Meyer's Web site is filled with links to the video and an exhortation to join a protest at noon today on the UF campus. But after watching the video, I'm wondering why folks are rallying to protect a guy who refused to obey the format of the Q&A session and then physically resisted police when they tried to escort him from the building?
The motto of this encounter, if you ask me, is you better do what the cops say if four of them are sitting on top of you with a taser (the motto for the cops is, don't taser a guy in front of dozens of people if you already have him subdued).
UPDATE: After seeing how fast this video has spread across the news media, I have a new motto for Meyer -- don't be afraid to get tasered if it can turn you into a national media figure. Like the weirdos who dress in costume for an American Idol audition, Meyer and his antics have earned attention on all the local newscasts here, CNN, the Today show and AOL's homepage, just to name a few outlets now featuring his video. I'm now thinking University of Florida police played into his hands and Meyer is the greatest diabolical genius since Dr. Evil.
It reminds me of the androgenous, oddball Britney fan "Chris Crocker" whose rant about Britney's performance at MTV's awards on youTube got so many hits he landed on newscasts and Jimmy Kimmel Live. We're seeing a new type of celebrity emerge before our eyes -- fed by TV and blogs' hunger for compelling video footage --and the only real question left may be how far some people are willing to go in tappnig this attention.
What do you guys think? Fair protest or unruly disruptor?