Friday, September 21, 2007

Don't tase me bro - the modern day activist

I'm sure everybody has read the story about the student who got tased by police when he disrupted a talk given by Senator John Kerry. I've been reading about people who agree with the treatment of the situation and people who disagree, and there are many at varying levels of agreement. I think most people are going too far to the extreme on either side. However, there are a few level headed individuals out there. The following post describes my feelings the most on the subject, coming from a poser named Morris:

After reading the posts before mine I am surprised that so many people seem to see freedom of speech so much differently then I do. I have always taken free speech to mean the ability to have reasoned discourse without the interference or the retaliation of the government.
Free speech in public places and venues has always been restricted in many ways. Sometimes the restriction is one of courtesy, sometimes one of reason( yelling fire in a theater for example), and sometimes one of prudence(yelling racial slurs in a primarily minority neighborhood), but almost always limited.During the Kerry forum, speech or whatever it was, the gentleman chose to inject himself into to the focus and resist removal. This is a fairly time honored technique to call attention to yourself or your cause, when no one other then your friends will listen to you. This technique has always had its drawbacks however, one of which is forcible removal by the police. In the past this achieved in various ways all of which use varying levels of violence.
However he seems to have achieved his goal. Thanks to YouTube he has been the subject of much discussion, nationally. He made all the news wires, blogs, and oped pages, which I am sure was his intent. So I find the cost of his speech (his tasing) to be close to free as compared to what he got. He seems to have suffered no lasting harm, he is at home doing whatever it is that he does when he is there. He can bask in his newfound fame and can be glad that he has not had to pay the price others have paid for their "free speech", torture and murder.
Nothing worth having is ever free. Thats what I have learned about "free speech" in my lifetime. So when we exercise it we should be prepared for what it will cost. The officers involved will most likely be sued or otherwise punished for their participation in this event and will most likely suffer more than the student is likely to. The University will suffer a loss in reputation and possibly some financial loss if there is a lawsuit. The student will have an arrest report and legal fees. And in the end there will be another new event to capture the public attention and this event will be forgotten by everyone except those who were involved.

I'm not saying that I support the student's cause, but I admire him somewhat. He stood up for what he believed in and he accomplished his goal. Sure he was a prankster, but for this 'prank', I'm sure he was able to get people to think. I don't agree with him playing to the camera like he did though, as it made his cause look like a circus act. At the end of the day, not many will really remember what he was trying to say, but everybody will remember his clownishness.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. Finally someone to talk about this with. I did a debate for my university class on freedom of speech vs the right to be protected from hatred. I cam across that whole article/videos, story I guess as you all it. A let met just tell you, tazing, is messed up. I don't think it was right at all, but I mean, Im not gonna get into that right now. I have to say that I really really strongly disagree with what happened to that student. A, freedom of speech is completely a privillege and I mean the point of having it, is to use it. This student was using it and he wasnt harming the protection of Kerry. The only "wrong thing" was that he was standing up for what he believed in and going against the US government, or whatever. Obviously that was example ENOUGh to show you just HOW much control the state has over the way you talk, what you can say, how you can act. Im pretty sure any other scenario with any NON US affiliate wouldn't have lead to this poor student being taken away and tazed. Its not freedom of speech, its controlled speech and suppression.
    Don't get me wrong, it it was a culturally sentitive, racially sensitive etc then theres issue to have removed him, but JUST because he was trying to go against an official, shit started and again people lost their right that the state "presumeably offers," Theres definetly many more cases like this though if you look around , dealing with freedom of speech in both canada and the US.
    I mean, think about it Kerrys response, he didn't even do anything about the Tasering. He could have EASILY helped. 6 cops on the kid, theres NO excuse for that. Kerry just said something like, "I've never had a diaglogue end this way...I told the police that I allowed the kid to answer the question.....I was not aware that a taser was used until after I left" Bull. Thats what I have to say. Honestly. Seriously, you couldnt hear the screaming, and the tazering? Seriously, like I said, don't say you offer freedom of speech if you don't stand for it.