The Taser Story: Who Do We Blame, Bro?

Entering the Andrew Meyer taser debate with both eyes wide open

This Week’s Top Scrooge – September 21, 2007   


The definition of Taser as found in Wikipedia:

The name Taser is an acronym for “Thomas A. Swift’s Electric Rifle”. Arizona inventor Jack Cover designed it in 1969; naming it for the science fiction teenage inventor and adventurer character Tom Swift.

Modern taser-type weapons fire small dart-like electrodes with attached metal wires that connect to the gun, propelled by small gas charges similar to some air rifle propellants. The maximum range is up to 10 meters (30 feet). Earlier models of Taser needed the dart-like electrodes to embed in the skin and superficial muscle tissues layers; newer versions of the projectiles use a shaped pulse/arc of electricity which disrupt nerve and muscle function without needing the metal prongs on the projectile to penetrate the skin. Early models had difficulty in penetrating thick clothing, but the ‘pulse’ models are designed to bring down a subject wearing up to a Level III body armor vest.

Tasers are currently in use by a number of police forces worldwide to try to reduce firearms-related deaths.

Andrew Meyer is obnoxious. According to several reports, his is quite the attention seeker. However, did he deserve to be tasered while disrupting a John Kerry Q&A and then making quite a fuss while police attempted to subdue him?

You can look at it from many angles and judging by a few quick internet searches, opinion runs wide and wild.

This from the online version of the now defunct newspaper Pravda (which, by the way, is Russian for “truth”):

The Empire is Zapping “Free Speech”

Andrew Meyer, a University of Florida (Gainesville) senior telecommunications major, was brutally restrained and tasered by police after trying to question presidential candidate John Kerry about why he didn’t contest the 2004 presidential election, why there had been no moves to impeach President Bush and whether he and Bush were members of the secret society Skull and Bones at Yale University. The 21-year old Meyer is a student in the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida.

OK…so, then there is the other spin, by I’m afraid, some right wingers. This is an excerpt from a letter from an eyewitness, sent into Michelle Malkin:

…all of a sudden Meyer rushed to the microphone with cops in pursuit. At that point no one knew what was going on. Could he have a gun, a bomb? Immediately, Meyer began yelling into the microphone that he had been waiting in line forever and that Senator Kerry should “spend time to answer everyone’s questions!” Senator Kerry tried to calm the student down by telling him that he would “stay here as long as it takes to get the questions answered.” The police approached Meyer who began taunting them by saying “what! are you going to taser me? are you going to arrest me?!” The police grabbed Meyer, but Senator Kerry asked the police to let him go and that he would answer his question. Senator Kerry finished answering the other student’s question and then proceeded with Meyer. (*This entire scene is not in any video I can find so far. This is why 2 cops are seen right behind Meyer at the start of some videos*).

Meyer approached the microphone and began to talk about a book he had which stated that Kerry won the 2004 election because of disenfranchisement of black voters and faulty voter machines that produced “Bush” as the winner. He then posed another question about why President Bush had not been impeached. “President Clinton was impeached because of a blowjob, why not Bush?”. The third and strangest question he posed to Senator Kerry was asking him if he was part of the skull and bones society with Bush at Yale. Meyer’s mic cut off after that, probably because he had mentioned the word “blowjob”.

…I don’t know if this is relevant or not, but Andrew Meyer is a former sports writer for the school newspaper The Alligator. In his columns, he has been known to make ridiculous statements in order to gain attention for himself. Was today a publicity stunt?

Of course, the reaction by many to the “shock felt around the world” is that Meyer deserved it.

While Meyer might have brought on his own wrath, TheLedger puts it: And just like that, the University of Florida – the state’s flagship university – is raw meat for every cable news commentator and every Internet blogger in the virtual world.

And so is everybody else from President Bush and his administration to conspiracy theorists everywhere.

So, as usual, there is lots of blame to be thrown around. Is Andrew Meyer a bad guy? Or, is it the police officer who did the tasering off base?

I’m going to go back to the definition of “taser” and its use. Was Andrew Meyer a physical threat by either carrying a weapon or physically threating with his fists? No, especially after being held by 6 police officers.

So, relax, all you Andrew Meyer supporters adorned in “Don’t Taze Me, Bro!” T-shirts. I’m not tagging This Week’s Top Scrooge on Meyer or the anti-taser crowd. This Week’s Top Scrooge belongs to the police officer and law enforcement team, who tasered Meyer…and all those who say he deserved it!


The video:



RELATED: “Don’t Taze Me, Bro” Becomes Instant Fashion Statement


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One thought on “The Taser Story: Who Do We Blame, Bro?

  1. I think if we are going to ask the question of whether or not he deserved to be tazed, we need to look at what happened AFTER the mic cut off, and AFTER the police attempted to remove him from the building.

    After being led roughly 6 or 10 feet from the podium he tore himself from the two officers and told them to get off of him because he didn’t do anything. After more scuffling another officer was able to physically lift him up and sort of bunny hop him up the walkway toward the exit.

    He continued to struggle, never once submitting to the demands of the officers to stop fighting. This struggle went on and on for many minutes. More officers joined in and they were able to get him to the floor, face down, and attempted to handcuff him. For a moment he seemed to stop resisting, and said “Why are they arresting me? Can someone DO something here?! I being arrested! WHAT DID I DO?! Get off, OK, you know what?!” He wrenched free again, and was able to free his arms and turn partway over, saying “Get off! Get the fuck of of me man, I didn’t do anything!” as he tried to get up off the floor.

    At this point an officer told him he had to get back down, presumably letting the student know he would be tazed if didn’t stop fighting. This is when he said “Don’t taze me, bro!”, but he never stopped struggling, until he started getting zapped.

    One more thing to note in the video that may be important to note when judging the officers. When Meyer was struggling with the 4 or 6 of them at the top of walkway, there was a woman visible who knew the woman taking the video, and she looked quizzically at the camera operator and shrugged her shoulders. She asked the videographer something unintelligible, presumably something about why Meyer was continuing to resist – then either she or the camera’s operator said:

    “He has a taser on his chest … I mean … what an idiot!”

    The reason this is important is that it was almost a full minute from that point until the taser was actually used. Maybe it’s just me but I think that shows some restraint on the officers’ part, and I truly believe they were trying to restrain him without resorting to the weapon.

    It was only after another minute went by in which they almost got him handcuffed but then he wrenched free yet again and attempted to get up, before he started saying “don’t taze me”.

    I still don’t know if tazing was entirely necessary however I think that question should be discussed in the context of his continued struggle against multiple officers.

    One lesson: If you’re refusing to cooperate, have to get taken to the floor, continue to ignore orders, wrestle free and resist handcuffing, attempt to get up and physically fight the officers trying to restrain you, don’t be surprised when they actually use the taser than has been connected to you for a minute or more!

    Most of the discussion I’ve seen seems to be about whether he deserved to be tazed on account of his question; most of the outrage is related to free speech, state repression, etc.

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