Thursday, September 20, 2007

"Don't Tase Me, Bro"

If ya'll haven't heard the story already, this student at the University of Florida, Andrew Meyer, started heatedly haranguing Senator Kerry during his on-campus speech. Meyer's microphone was cut after he asked Kerry if he was a member of Skull and Bones while at Yale. After his mic was cut, Meyer got louder and more worked up which caused the campus police to attempt to escort him to his seat. Meyer violently resisted and yelled obnoxious stuff until the police brought him struggling to the ground and tased him. (Check out the video on You Tube http://youtube.com/watch?v=y3FFnpS-eYA )

I know that our assignment this week said that we needed to use two similar articles from the list of recommended sites, but after reading "The Adventures of Taser Boy" from The National Review, I was dying to hear a different side of the story. My second article came from The Independent Flordia Alligator, the UofF campus newspaper. I found it really interesting because it described the incident from a student perspective.

The word-choice in either article was fairly bland and the tone in both articles was mainly informative, however both views defend their sides in various places. The main differences I saw were in the specific way information was given and what information was given. In the National Review article, author Jack Dumphy includes an explanation of why the officers approached Meyer. Apparently a university official signaled that things were getting dangerously out of hand. In contrast, the UofF publication blamed the officers for agitating Meyer and provoking the riot. A look at the video shows us that Meyer was getting loud and angrily waving his arms around right after the mic was cut and a few seconds later the police approached him. In this situation, the National Review seems to be reporting more accurately but it is interesting to see the way that this situation appeared to the students in attendence.

Another interesting dissimilarity between the National Review and The Independent Florida Alligator is their reports of Meyer's conflict with the police. UofF went straight from "Meyer was told to comply with the officers, but continued to resist," to " 'Don't tase me, bro!' Meyer screamed as officers attempted to drag him outside . . . police then shot Meyer with a taser gun." The Alligator portrayed Meyer as a helpless victim merely resisting out of fear who is then cruelly tasered. Maybe it seemed like this to some people after hearing Meyers screams as he is tasered, but in the video, not only did Meyer "resist", he ran , flailed, hit, yelled, you get the idea. The National Review described Meyer as an attention-getter who carried on long after he was warned to calm down. Dumphy writes what we can clearly see in the video, that Meyer was acting in a threatening way to Kerry and was a potential danger to both officers and students. We see the officers point of view as their attempts to subdue Meyer only make him more volatile. He has on one handcuff, is running from them, yelling at the top of his lungs, and in a room full of people. Even though Meyer did not seem to be a threat in the video, its the officers job to ensure that everyone is safe and because Meyer was acting in a threatening manner the police had to take him down. The National Review also included that Meyer was warned several times by the police to calm down or they would taser him but Meyer, obviously, did no such thing.

The UofF paper explained that many students were planning on marching in protest the next day. Students were said to be demanding the charges of felony against Meyer to be dropped and the officers to be suspended. While I think these demands make sense if you are truly outraged at the whole event, but the students are also demanding that all taser guns be removed from campus. That really doesnt click with me, I mean taser guns are something that increases security and just because they were used on a student in this instance I dont see why they should all of a sudden be banned.

Anyway, I agree with the Dunphy. Meyer was considered to be an obnoxious jerk by many students and has videotaped a lot of his own practical jokes and stuff. I think his harangue of Kerry and violent resistance to the police were just attention-getting stunts that Meyer took way to far. Meyers yells on the video seem fake up until he is tasered and then they just sound horrible. I found this topic interesting because the differences in information made me think about the information that I accept as accurate. I'm definitely going to look for more than one source from now on because neither the National Review or The Independent Florida Gator was able to give the whole story.

1 comment:

Wendy Sumner-Winter said...

Great post, Lauren. I'm glad you found something that so clearly makes my point about the definite lack of "objectivity" within writing. It's good that you came to your own, independent (though, of course, still not objective) opinion about the matter.

It certainly proves how dangerous our words can be: The UofF's paper incited a riot (even if they didn't intend to) because of the words they chose, and because their readers did not do their own research.