After a 21-year-old student was tased at the University of Florida last week, many questions remain about right and wrong. But what about political repercussions?

The incident that occurred at the University of Florida last week has been creating a lot of ethical friction. Andrew Meyer, 21, was the student who stood up to question Senator John Kerry and was taken out of the room by security and tased in the process.

Many of us have seen the YouTube video and have come away with varied responses. Personally, I was disturbed by the seeming lack of justice and astounded by the quick use of the taser. To be fair, we should consider that there could have been some background with the student that we do not know about and, also, that perhaps Meyer should have been a bit more calm when he stood up to speak. Despite these musings, I believe that an injustice most certainly occurred that day at the University of Florida.

However, while most of the debate in this case surrounds the aspect of justice, the aspect of politics is also crucial. John Kerry is a very prominent political figure and, at this moment in time, an incident that (to many) is an obstruction of justice is being associated with his name. Kerry has publicly stated that he is sorry that the student was interrupted, but I, for one, question whether this is sincere regret or not. The reason for my doubt is the subject matter of the student’s questions. Meyer asked Senator Kerry about speculations that President George Bush ought to be impeached and also whether he and Bush participated in the same secret society, Skull and Bones, at Yale.

One can assume that these questions probably are not ones that Senator Kerry would be completely comfortable answering. However, wouldn’t it have been better for him to give a response that could be self-incriminating rather than to be associated with a controversial tasing? When I first learned of the incident, one of my first thoughts was, “Why did Kerry sit back and let that happen?”

In a recent interview, Kerry claimed that he did not know the student was in fact being tased. This does not seem plausible, since everybody else at the event appeared to react at the sound of the taser in the YouTube video.

One might look at the incident as being politically detrimental for Kerry if he or she had the same reaction that I did. I feel that Kerry could have probably stepped up and said something before the struggle escalated to the point that it did. In another sense, somebody might say that the taser incident was a saving grace for Kerry. The questions posed by Meyer were very touchy subjects, and had Kerry responded, his answers may not have been well received, in which case, the extraction of Meyer from the scene was helpful for Kerry.

I, though a Democrat, have never been particularly partial to Kerry. However, I do not feel that he would let this occur just because he did not want to answer the questions. At least, one can hope that he would not. In turn, I do feel that this incident being tied to his name is more hurtful to his political status than answering either of the questions would have been. This occurrence will probably be something that he will be questioned about for a long time to come.

People are already labeling what happened as a violation of the basic freedom of speech, which, if proven to be a valid accusation, will not be easily ignored. Investigations are being done, and as of right now, two of the officers involved have been put on administrative leave. This is probably a good indication that the shock of the public at the incident was not without reason and that the wrong procedure was most certainly carried out that day.

The aforementioned apologies that Kerry has issued have been publicized, but they have not been necessarily directed at the student. He says more specifically that he is sorry that the discussion was interrupted rather than that an injustice occurred. This will probably hurt him at some point as well.

In the grand scheme of things, this incident will probably prove to be minor, but might hurt Kerry for the time being. If he is to rise above it more quickly, he should probably issue an apology that better encompasses the whole incident. And if it doesn’t all blow over soon, I suppose he could always get a job with Heinz, right?

Smith is a member of the class of 2011.



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