THE BLOG
09/18/2007 12:48 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

More Pinter than Python

RE: The tasering of 21 year old University of Florida student Andrew Meyer.

At a 'town hall meeting' with John Kerry, an over-excited young man can be seen peppering the senator with questions. To the best of my knowledge at this time, he did not make threats or appear to be deranged or even all that disrespectful. Watching the video, I found myself wondering about the psychodrama playing out. Apparently some students actually called the police to have the young man removed because he 'went on for too long'. (In fairness, he does seem obnoxious, though if that were Taser-worthy, I can think of a few people I'd like to line up before this kid -- me included.) And a number of the students cheered as Mr. Meyer was being dragged out. You can hear it, a sort of relieved but half-hearted roar...I'm not kidding. Like a pep-rally.

You gotta love it.

You gotta love the glorious retro good-manners of the undergrad University of Florida crowd -- desperate for order over rancor, photo-ops over discourse . At any cost. And chillingly -- the entire video turns subtly on the mute stillness of the onlookers as he is dragged away. It stops being funny very very quickly. The cheers die and time seems to slow.

And as you watch the video -- you sort of wonder just what kinda president Kerry would have made; the man is droning on and on and on and on (off-screen) as this boy is being tasered. (It is as though Kerry was possessed by Biden's ghost or something, with all due respect to the senator from Delaware. ) But really -- It has the quality of a semi-inspired Monty Python skit, or it would have if it weren't so sickening. In the end, it's more Pinter than Python. Kerry goes on like the odd bit of Duchampian machinery he is. (Think of the useless invention in Duchamp's "The Large Glass" -- and you have Kerry.) It's a very powerful non-image; this disembodied blathering of the perfectly hapless politico as the protester screams in agony and rage and gets tortured by people in uniform. Eventually, you do hear some horrified students screaming for the authorities to leave Mr. Meyer alone. You hear it faintly. Worth noting at least. If i were a semiotics kind of guy, I'd be able to write a thesis on it. The symbols are as thick on that tape as stars in the milky way. As it is, semiotics are above my head; I just happen to be sort of interested in/curious about how system's work.

So. Lesson is -- be very careful that your kid not grow up to be too curious, exuberant, fervent, or passionate about politics. This country doesn't like protest anymore. (To wit Moveon.org.) He or she might easily be mistaken for some sort of maladroit psychotic nut. In America today. So don't have any more big talks - no big arguments at the dinner table with the kids - over the war, or the economy. Or health care. Nope. Or...You might end up with a tasered, McMurphy-esque post-teen rebel, being busted by Nurse Ratcheds who run (often too fat to actually run) rampant in our police departments; forever oblivious to the fact that usually they're caught on video these days. I also can't help feeling that if my kid was the one who dropped a dime on poor/dumb Mr. Meyer and called the cops -- it could be that it may be time to bring him/her home for an ideological debriefing and some home cooking.

On the serious, non-flip side, this kind of one-act play is probably going to be more common now, in the post Virginia-Tech-post-Columbine world. Someone who does not suffer fools at all, just pointed out to me that we don't see the prelude to the rant. The chilling effects of fear on a (gun-ridden) populace that has too much to be afraid of on any given day can be measured in dramas like this one. As we all know, the "National Threat Level" is "Elevated, or yellow". Which means 'we're scared, our free-floating anxiety is warranted, don't screw with us." Perhaps this young man didn't take the proper measure of the crowd, and the times we live in. The entire nation is suffering from Fight or Flight syndrome. However you view the event, the sight of a college kid being pulled out of a town meeting and tasered is nothing if not further evidence of a soul sick citizenry...and a country whose mood is Not Amused.