Monday, June 14, 2010

New When Falls the Coliseum Post: RE: North Carolina representative Bob Etheridge Attacks Someone for Asking Him a Question

Over at WFTC, I tackle the video of a representative from the state of North Carolina, Bob Etheridge, attacking someone who asked him a question. My worry is that we need someone to protect us from the rage of our elected officials.

Here is the video in question:

Since I posted the original piece at WFTC, the video has gotten a lot of play -- it's jumped from about 800 views to over 80,000. And some people are trying to, I don't know, excuse the behavior of the representative. Check this from Mediaite:
The democratization of communications technology (flip cams, home editing suites and YouTube) is generally lauded as a great advancement for civilization (and for the most part, it is.) But during a time of heated partisan divide — caused, in part, by a Balkanizing landscape of opinion media — well, one wonders if we really want an army of aggressive college kids accosting public servants until someone eventually loses their cool.
Did you catch that? The kids shouldn't have asked an elected official a question because we're living in a time of "heated partisan divide". Caused by all those kids with their cell phone cameras and their twitters.

Remember when cell phones were used to MAKE PHONE CALLS? Now GET OFF MY LAWN!

Yes, the Mediaite author is a luddite. And another Mediaite author apparently can't locate his dictionary:
A video of Rep. Bob Etheridge of North Carolina physically accosting a couple of college students attempting an ambush interview has created enormous reaction on the Internet this morning.
Wait a second. "Physically accosting"? That makes no sense. How does one "physically accost" someone?

As Merriam Webster helpfully points out, the word "accost" means:
to approach and speak to often in a challenging or aggressive way
How do you "physically speak to someone"? Unless the illiterate author is suggesting that the "physical" part of the "accosting" was in the approach? But that's covered in the definition of the word "accost."

The author would more accurately have said, "physically assaulting." That's what he did. The video clearly shows that.

Imagine if it had been anyone other than a congressman? Think he'd be in jail? Or at least questioned by the police?

And for that question, for crying out loud. "Do you support the Obama agenda"? That question is so deliberately vague, almost to the point of stubbornness, that it sort of reminded me of the great comedian Andy Kaufman.

Here he is "physically accosting" professional wrestler Jerry Lawler on David Letterman's show:

Of course, Andy Kaufman and Jerry Lawler were both in on the joke.

It's probably closer to Michael Moore, the celebrated documentary filmmaker, who often uses ambush interview techniques to catch his subjects off guard. (Sorry; can't find anything to embed.) Or how about this classic clip from "The Daily Show," in which they do an ambush interview of Carl Monday, a Cleveland ambush interviewer who did a story about masturbation in the library:
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Anyway, the representative in question, Bob Etheridge, has apologized for his physical assault accosting -- on his blog!:
“I have seen the video posted on several blogs. I deeply and profoundly regret my reaction and I apologize to all involved. Throughout my many years of service to the people of North Carolina, I have always tried to treat people from all viewpoints with respect. No matter how intrusive and partisan our politics can become, this does not justify a poor response. I have and I will always work to promote a civil public discourse.”
Did you get that? Allow me to translate: No matter how intrusive and partisan our politics can become (that kid with the camera asked me something I didn't like [and that really made so little sense as to be innocuous], so I hit the bastard!) I usually try not to hit the bastards who ask me their intrusive, stupid questions that I hate to answer. But it's just so hard to keep your cool when there's so much, you know, partisan, um, stuff going on.

And no, you have not always worked to promote a civil public discourse, you jerk. You assaulted someone who asked you a question. It's on tape for crying out loud. That's a serious lapse in your "always worked to promote a civil discourse" claim.

He's no better than the cast of "Jeresy Shore."

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