Valentine: What if Republican had struck reporter?

Friday, June 18, 2010

U.S. Rep. Bobby Etheridge (D-NC) should be in jail. I don't say that lightly. It's one thing to make a mistake. It's another thing entirely to assault someone out of sheer arrogance. But, he's not in jail. Instead, he merely issued an apology for his outrageous behavior and the mainstream media appear to have accepted it. As is so typical of the biased reporters, instead of demanding that Etheridge be prosecuted they have turned their sites on the origins of the video.

It all started when a couple of college kids walked up to Congressman Etheridge on the streets of Washington and asked him if he supported the Obama agenda. Instead of a courteous response or even a terse "no comment," Etheridge grabbed the kid who asked the question and demanded to know his name. At one point he swatted at either the kid's head or a camera. He then grabbed the kid by the wrist with one hand and the back of the neck with the other, all the while demanding that he had a right to know the kid's name.

No, Mr. Etheridge, you don't have a right to know the kid's name just because you're a congressman. You do have the right to remain silent.

But his rights were not read to him. After all, he's a very important man. He can't be bothered by such trivial matters as assault and battery. The ordinary rules that apply to you and me apparently don't apply to him.

What's more, if this had been a Republican or, God forbid, a Tea Party person then we would never hear the end of it. Instead, the few reports of the incident that did make it into the newspapers focused more on the origin of the video encounter than any wrongdoing by Etheridge. It's like the Climategate e-mails that surfaced in England. The press was more concerned about who leaked them than how damning they were to the global warming movement.

The video of Etheridge was posted by Breitbart.com and reporters seemed more interested in Andrew Breitbart's motives than Etheridge's behavior. They tracked him down in London for a comment, noting that Breitbart was behind the infamous ACORN undercover videos that nearly brought that organization to its knees.

Breitbart says they found the video online and merely added commentary to the clip. He later added another clip with the other camera angle on the incident. MSNBC reported the assault not as an assault but as a confrontation by "men with cameras." These were college kids doing a project, according to those who were on the receiving end of Etheridge's rage. All MSNBC could focus on was the ACORN sting with James O'Keefe which had nothing whatsoever to do with these college kids or the Etheridge incident. Somehow these folks in the mainstream media can't help but circle the wagons when a fellow liberal is under fire.

But taken for what this was, an unbelievably arrogant display of power over some seemingly powerless college students, there's something quite troubling about not only Etheridge's conduct but the way the mainstream media seem to be covering for him.

I've heard it argued that the college kids should've answered Etheridge when he asked, "Who are you?" and the whole affair would've been over. That misses the point entirely. Etheridge had no right to know who these guys were. He had the option of answering them or simply walking away. He's lucky these guys showed a little restraint. Had he chosen the wrong people to assault he might have been picking his teeth up off the sidewalk.