Monday’s incident where a UF student was tasered and arrested for asking Senator Kerry some direct questions about the 2004 election has highlighted some serious issues we have in this society regarding how we deal with people that wish to speak their mind and provoke debate. Especially those who want to rant on a microphone in a public forum with a US Senator.
A lot of what I’ve read on the internets points out how poorly the police handled the situation–by trying to forcefully eject the poor guy, and then pinning him to the ground and tasering him. After watching videos of the incident I agree the police completely mishandled the situation. I think UF did the right thing suspending the officers.
I like Senator Kerry’s politics, but I think this incident speaks more to Kerry’s poor abilities as a public speaker than it does to police officer’s poor handling of the situation. A good orator knows how to redirect and/or silence people that try to hi-jack the debate. In a public forum like this you need to be ready to cut off someone that’s trying to escalate the situation and gracefully steer the conversation back to a comfortable level. Andrew Meyer was clearly trying to rile things up. Kerry should have stepped in and calmed the situation down. I can think of several ways Kerry could have joked with Meyer, bounced Meyer’s accusations right back at him, or even better, like a great politician: answer the question he wished he’d been asked.