The media and John Kerry's disgusting display
By Bev Conover
Online Journal Editor & Publisher
Sep 20, 2007
Imagine you attend a town hall talk by a US senator. A question and answer session follows. You line up behind the other questioners. Before your turn comes, the session is suddenly declared over and the microphone is turned off.
That is what happened to University of Florida journalism student Andrew Meyer, 21, Monday -- Constitution Day, yet -- when he sought to put his questions to guest speaker Senator John Kerry.
Meyer verbally protested, which anyone would do. Kerry had the microphone turned back on. Meyer, holding up a copy of Greg Palast's book, Armed Madhouse, recommended the book to Kerry. Kerry said he had read it. Then when Meyer asked Kerry why he had not contested the stolen 2004 election, his microphone was turned off again to shouts of only one question per person. That was Meyer's first question. Meyer shouted back that Kerry had had two hours, so he surely was entitled to two minutes. Kerry agreed to answer his questions. With the microphone still turned off, Meyer asked Kerry why he had not sought George W. Bush's impeachment. That's when the campus police stormed him.
With Meyer protesting the cops' actions -- which now apparently constitutes "resisting arrest," worse since he was still holding the book over his head, "resisting arrest with violence" -- Meyer was wrestled to the floor and held down by six cops as he was Tased, then hauled off to the Alachua County jail where he spent the night.
What did John Kerry do while all this was happening within his plain sight? He stood there barely audibly saying, "That's all right, let me answer his question" and later, in a statement, denied he knew what was going on: "I believe I could have handled the situation without interruption, but I do not know what warnings or other exchanges transpired between the young man and the police prior to his barging to the front of the line and their intervention."
Whether Meyer barged "to the front of the line" is questionable. The first report of the incident did not have him "barging to the front of the line." And, even if he did, since the question and answer session was cut off before Meyer and any others got to ask their questions, so what if he demanded for himself, and possibly others, his constitutional right to be heard?
We're talking about the First Amendment right to free speech, not assaulting and Tasing a person because someone doesn't like what he is saying. Back in the days when reporters weren't all whores for their corporate masters and the powers that be, they were aggressive in questioning the politicians they were covering.
But free speech rights don't cut it with today's corporate media, in whose class we now have to put Air America's Rachel Maddow. Instead, it's questions about Meyer's background that has become the story.
To wit, Travis Reed of the Associated Press wrote that Meyer is a "university student with a history of taping his own practical jokes," as if that has any relation to the incident.
As if that weren't bad enough, Reed further wrote, as if to paint Meyer as a lunatic and a pervert, "Meyer has his own Web site and it contains several 'comedy' videos that he appears in. In one, he stands in a street with a sign that says 'Harry Dies' after the latest Harry Potter book was released. In another, he acts like a drunk while trying to pick up a woman in a bar.
"The site also has what is called a 'disorganized diatribe' attributed to Meyer that criticizes the Iraq war, the news media for not covering the conflict enough and the American public for paying too much attention to celebrity news."
Now it's the victim's motives and not the cops' brutality that is being questioned. Even the Times of London got in on that act. Wrote the Times, "Critics have suggested that the entire incident was a planned attempt to win attention for a student who has already posted dozens of videos of himself on his website http://www.andrewmeyer.com/."
Hey, he's a college student for crissakes! This is utter nonsense and beside the point.
Anything to misdirect the focus away from another violation of free speech rights and the vicious behavior of law enforcers (remember when they were called "peace officers?").
Rachel Maddow, on Tuesday night's Countdown on MSNBC, also showed her hand by questioning whether Meyer's behavior was a stunt to gain attention, while expressing her support for police and brushing off First Amendment rights.
The worst, though, was the Bush family's favorite newspaper, The Washington Post. In her article, Aiming to Agitate, Florida Student Got a Shock, Post writer Monica Hesse wrote, "This was not Meyer's first escapade as a provocateur, but it may be his most physically punishing. As a freshman his weekly columns for the Alligator, the campus newspaper, regularly prompted debate. 'He would take an idea such as a fundraiser for cancer research, and would bash the way the whole event would go down,' wrote Meyer's friend Brandon Crone in an e-mail, noting that some of Meyer's articles were rejected for publication because of their incendiary material.
Only halfway down the article did Hesse interview people who know Meyer and denied what he did was a publicity stunt.
Imagine if the civil rights movement were underway today. There would be no photos, film or videos of cops attacking protestors with clubs, dogs or fire hoses. No media outrage over three civil rights workers being brutally murdered in Mississippi or the bombing of churches and homes that killed innocent adults and children because they were black. Martin Luther King, Jr., would be dismissed as some kind of "conspiracy nut." There would be little coverage of the march on Selma or the Mall in Washington packed by those who came to hear King's "I have a dream" speech. Instead reporters would be asking, "What are they protesting about?"
Unlike the Vietnam War era, the only coverage of today's antiwar protests is negative. Rarely is anything shown of cops brutalizing protestors, who often are herded into "Free Speech Zones," and when it is covered, it's usually disruption caused by those clad in black government infiltrators the media call "anarchists." (Remember Seattle and Miami?) No peacenik in her right mind today would dream of sticking a flower in the barrel of an AK47 carried by a cop dressed as Darth Vader, without risking being shot.
Bush has decreed and the corporate media have abided by the decider-in-chief's edict that no body tubes containing dead soldiers being brought home be photographed. As for the 1.2 million Iraqis killed in Bush's war, the 4 million or more displaced or forced to flee their homeland and the countless thousands wounded or maimed, the Decider says, "Fuhgeddaboutem."
Protest and dissent is out. Hard questions are a no-no. People are harassed, patted down and even body searched at airports -- i.e., if they aren't among the thousands on the no-fly list without explanation or a way of getting off it. People are kicked off plains for speaking a foreign language. Backpacks are banned at public events. Spectators can't carry bottles of water into sporting events. People are disappearing, without recourse to lawyers or courts, into Bush's gulags on suspicion of being terrorists.
Music scholar Nalini Ghuman, a British citizen who has legally taught at Mills College in Oakland, Calif. for 10 years, had her visa torn up, passport defaced, her luggage and person searched by Customs officers, without explanation, upon returning from a trip to the UK on August 6, 2006. Then she was given the choice of boarding the next flight back to the UK or being locked up in a detention facility. To this day, the State Department has offered no explanation and, so far, has not responded to her application for a new visa. Ghuman is not alone in this treatment.
How much more of this are people going to take and still say America is a free society?