Saturday, January 12, 2008

Don't Tase Me, Bro

For the past few months, I've been hearing about this phrase that's all the rage in pop culture, "don't tase me, bro." There have been t-shirts, bumper stickers, even ringtones. I vaguely knew of where it came from, some kid resisting arrest. But then I actually sat down and watched the video.

Here is another version, taken closer to the student and it's longer too.

All I have to say is, "wow". I know I'm really late to the party here, and after 3 months, its news value is as stale as moldy bread, but I'm pretty awestruck how this could end up as being a kind of cultural footnote. One phrase, where the kid's pleading with the cops not to use a taser on him, has entered the cultural lexicon, while the entire incident is lost in a deep haze.

There are varying accounts of what happened; there are 2 very good videos on Youtube of one of the students who were there supporting the police. And when you watch the videos, especially the second, you'll see that the student was very obnoxious and rude. Before the cameras rolled, it was said that he cut past a few people to ask his question, since Kerry was about to end the Q&A session. But I can only judge the events based on what I was able to see on the video.

And it's pretty clear that the cops (or security guards, whatever they were) were out of line and really overstepped their authority. What I was able to see was this kid who was asking tough questions of John Kerry. He had his mic cut and 2 cops put their hands on him and tried forcibly removing him from the building. That's when he began resisting and yelling. The guy wasn't even able to see Kerry answer his questions, which to Kerry's credit he was beginning to do when the cops caused this ruckus. If this man was really causing the disturbance that several witnesses said that he did, after cutting his mic, he should have been asked politely to leave the premises.

I think most of us, in a similiar situation, would have reacted in a similar way. He was resisting an unlawful arrest. Afterwards, he was told that he was arrested for trying to "incite a riot". The only ones who were trying to incite a riot were the police and their heavy-handedness against a white college student. That should also be telling in and of itself. If they're doing this to a white college student for asking a politician some tough questions, imagine what they're doing to minorities in poorer parts of the country. And look at the audience in the videos. Some of them are laughing at it. Only a handful were concerned or protesting what was going on.

This video shows how far off the cliff we've gone, and rather than awaken us as a society and as voters, the only thing this situation created was a catchphrase.

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