Two University of Florida security officers were placed on leave awaiting the results of an investigation by the State of Florida into the appropriateness of police response to a long-winded student questioner of Massachusetts Senator John Kerry.
21-year-old Andrew Meyer monopolized the microphone for only a few minutes, subjecting Kerry to three rambling and paranoid questions, then was seized and forcibly carried away by University police before the senator had time to reply.
Young Meyer’s verbal protests and expressions of astonishment at being arrested provoked the five security officers to throw him to the ground at the rear of the auditorium and handcuff him. His continued pleas cries for help led them to administer electric shocks with a Taser.
Today’s new stories feature excerpts of a self-exculpating police report implicitly accusing Meyer of orchestrating his arrest as a publicity stunt and quoting him as saying afterwards: “I am not mad at you guys, you didn’t do anything wrong. You were just trying to do your job.”
It will probably be a short investigation.
Though Mr. Meyer was behaving inappropriately, taking a little excess questioning time and talking nonsense are neither criminal offenses, and there was no reason to suppose that he represented any actual threat to Senator Kerry or to the rest of the audience at all. Whoever was in charge of the meeting was perfectly entitled to ask Mr. Meyer to relinquish the microphone, but it was his forcible removal which caused the subsequent disruption and delay of the proceedings.
There was no obvious reason he should have been arrested. And, as the second video demonstrates, the university security personnel were embarrassed and confused themselves, telling Mr. Meyer with manifest insincerity to “calm down,” and absurdly threatening to charge him with “inciting a riot.”
While Andrew Meyer’s sufferings were in service to no cause beyond his own political delusions and mistaken sense of self-importance, it needs to be recognized that it was undoubtedly the University of Florida itself which filled that young man’s head with leftwing ideology and paranoia. And there is something beyond even that wrong in the atmosphere and consciousness of a university where security people behave like this.
Underneath all the pomp and symbolism, a university is, in the final analysis, a business and its students are its customers. A business whose employees go around tasering annoying customers has a problem with its service policies.
And a University is not only a business. Its relationship to students is also supposed to be a relationship of affection. It is going to ask them to donate money one fine day after they graduate. If you treat your students like some South American dictatorship treats its revolutionary opponents, you will not do very well raising funds for that new laboratory or football stadium.