We're in Day 3 of the University of Florida "Taser" story, and this morning, Rob Griscti, the lawyer for Andrew "Don't Tase Me, Bro!" Meyer, spoke with Matt for a few minutes. WATCH VIDEO
Photo by Andrew Stanfill -- Independent Florida Alligator
As I've watched the coverage of this story unfold over the past couple days, I was kind of confused as to what exactly happened. It's sometimes hard to understand the context of one of these cell phone videos that gets released with only sketchy details.
Now that a lot more information -- including the police report -- has become public, we have a better understanding of what went down.
In my view, this was a publicity stunt -- but one with a message. That message has largely been lost in the questions of whether Meyer's free speech was infringed, whether police overreacted or whether he's simply desperate for attention (or all of the above).
Our reaction -- as members of the news media, as viewers and consumers of culture -- is the point.
According to an article in the Gainesville Sun, Meyer wrote a post on his Web site about how the media is too focused on entertainment and not on more important stories, like the Iraq war.
He wrote, "The news is designed to keep viewers watching and sedated and not thinking bad thoughts about America, because that would be bad for the economy. Stories about a severely unbalanced budget are out, train wrecks like Paris and Anna are in. A train wreck may be senseless and pointless, but Americans sure do love to watch."
This guy saw an opportunity to prove his point, and with the help of the police, he did it even more effectively than he could have dreamed.
At one point, Meyer was a student writer for the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, where he wrote of himself, "Andrew tries to write mostly whimsical nonsense columns about nothing in particular, yet occasionally finds himself angry enough to rain down fire and brimstone on an unsuspecting politician or celebrity."
I don't think there's any doubt that he went to this lecture with Senator Kerry intending to make a scene (there is plenty of evidence on his Web site that he views himself as something of a prankster), hoping to turn a harangue into a video worthy of posting on YouTube and his own site.
He says he wanted to ask Kerry about supposedly important issues, one of which was whether Kerry and President Bush were members of the Yale secret society Skull and Bones. Does a question like that have anything to do with discourse on Iraq? Was he trying to suggest that Kerry and Bush are secretly in cahoots because of their past connections? I have no idea.
Before launching into his diatribe, Meyer made sure that cell phone cameras were rolling to catch whatever happened. He was probably hoping to get Kerry to say or do something embarrassing. Instead, he got something else.
He famously got Tasered and arrested, though according to the police report, he later told officers, "I am not mad at you guys, you didn't do anything wrong, you were just trying to do your job."
More to the point, he got something even more than an embarrassing YouTube moment: he turned himself into a national figure. And a least for a few days anyway, we're all watching.