Kid gets tasered in Florida at a Kerry speech because he talked over his time and resisted police. I’m just going to presume you’ve already heard the story.
But what is up with the public outcry over this tasering? Everywhere I look, news agencies are pumping out stories about how this is an egregious violation of First Amendment rights. Editorials are blasting the police for suppressing political dissent. Are you people serious? There are clearly established boundaries to an individual’s freedom of speech. You’ve all heard the yelling “fire” in a crowded theater example. Why is this surprising? Clearly, the fact that the kid got tasered is clouding the judgment of many writers out there.
Here’s why it’s the kid’s fault:
First, there was an established timeframe in which he could ask his questions. The fact that he knowingly went beyond his timeframe and kept babbling already tells me that he’s forfeiting some of his rights. If you wan’t to challenge the free speech issue, you should be challenging the people who set up time limits, not the police.
Second, as he was escorted (OK, it wasn’t really escorted…as he was dragged away) by the police out of the auditorium, he clearly was resisting them and continuing to yell at the top of his voice and making a scene. Is that free speech? Sure. But is that resisting the police? No brainer: yes. Consequently, the police have a right to use force to suppress him. This is the last time I’ll ever sound mildly conservative, but what if he was a terrorist or a dangerous criminal? As the police, you don’t take those kinds of risks just because the guy is a college student at a political meeting.
So let’s say that the police and the University of Florida did violate his freedom of speech. What then? Do we allow Mike Gravel and Ron Paul to filibuster a presidential debate? Are we forced to watch movies in theaters with people yelling at the screen the entire length of the film? There are clear guidelines set to regulate the freedom of speech, and just because this kid got tasered (unfortunate, certainly) doesn’t mean we should overlook those guidelines.
This also wasn’t censoring political speech because the kid forfeited his right to free speech when he kept talking. He had asked the question in a civilized manner, Kerry would’ve had time to give whatever vague answer he was planning on giving. Don’t put this under the banner of political censorship. I know it when I see it, like when I watch Fox News.
Let’s face it: if this kid had just been escorted out and sent to the county prison for resisting arrest, nobody would be paying any attention to this story. His tasering doesn’t in any way vindicate him for attempting to cause disorder at a Kerry speech.