"Offended and outraged." That was the reaction of MoveOn's Ilyse Hogue to Rand Paul campaign worker Tim Profitt who suggested that Lauren Valle should apologize for being thrown to the ground and having her head stomped by his fellow supporters. Raw footage shows 23-year-old, 110 lb Lauren being held down by two big men as another kicked her head (causing a concussion) and stepped on her neck. A fourth person, a woman, simply stepped on her. It's not clear why, considering Lauren was still on the ground. Meanwhile, candidate Rand Paul accepted the handshakes and cheers of those around him.
The video itself is shocking, along with the otherwise casual reaction of onlookers. The guy in the white sneakers stepping on Lauren's neck is Tim Profitt. He says, unlike the other attackers, he only stepped on her because he "suffers from chronic back pain."
It's more than a little ironic that today Valerie Jarrett and Lynn Rosenthal are holding a press conference to discuss the Obama administration's effort to combat violence against women. If only the Republican Party were as concerned about violence as the rest of us.
As shocking as the attack on Lauren may be, it really isn't much of a surprise. For over a year and a half the Republican party has been encouraging violence among its members and earlier this month Media Matters listed several dozen examples.
Trying to make sense of the pattern, I took this information and organized it into a timeline.
Like clockwork, when the stakes were high -- the passing of health care reform and throughout the primary season -- there was an uptick in incidents. So it is only expected that this close to the election we would see the transition from violent rhetoric to violent acts. And the justification for this action? Profitt more or less says that she asked for it.
Hogue notes in her statement, "Lauren's exercise of her First Amendment rights cannot possibly justify the violence against her any more than a woman's clothes can excuse a sexual assault. If Tim Profitt can get away with blaming Lauren for his attack on her, then women -- and all those speaking out for their beliefs in this political climate -- will have reason to fear."
Hogue continues, "Candidates on both sides of the aisle, including Rand Paul, must condemn Profitt's outrageous statements and call out this violence for what it is: anti-women and anti-American."
I agree. Violence and the rhetoric that encourages it needs to stop now. It will be interesting to see if Jarret and Rosenthal address this issue at today's press conference.