Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Bill O'Reilly about Andrew Meyer: "I Was Tasered, and It's Not that Bad"

Did you see Bill O'Reilly's take last night on the tasering of University of Florida student Andrew Meyer?

O'Reilly revealed that he, too, had been tasered once, and it didn't really hurt that much. Meyer was therefore hamming it up, according to O'Reilly.

Well, one thing O'Reilly's revelation can teach us about tasering: it obviously doesn't knock much sense into your head about the First Amendment, and what it means for freedom of speech in this country.

The First Amendment certainly does not say or mean that it's ok to interfere with speech, and taser a speaker, as long as the pain is not that bad. No pain is acceptable if meted out by the government or its agents. No interference with free speech by the government or its agents is acceptable. Period.

Now the University of Florida police might not have been the Secret Service or the FBI. But they were still acting as agents of the government - that is how any police force, however local, derives its powers. The 14th Amendment says states cannot withhold rights of citizens guaranteed under the Constitution. That's pretty clear.

So O'Reilly, as he so often does, missed the forest the trees. He missed the most important factor in the tasering of Andrew Meyer - the blatant violation of his First Amendment rights - because O'Reilly was more interested in making his personal experience with the taser the focus of his story.

Whatever someone's political position, he or she should be outraged about what happened to Andrew Meyer in Florida. It's a shame O'Reilly wasn't.

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