When Congressmen Attack!

This video is popping up all over the blogosphere today. It shows U.S. Representative Bob Etheridge (D-NC) physically assaulting a (alleged) college student who claims to be trying to get a comment on video for a class project.

Had that been me, he might (might!) have gotten a warning, maybe two, after grabbing my wrist – and that’s only because of the sudden, in your face, almost confrontational nature of the student’s approach and questioning. After those warnings, there would have been a physical stimulus applied to… “encourage” him to let go. If he had, at any point, grabbed me by the back of the neck like he did to that student, he would have pulled back a broken arm (at least), and would most definitely be facing Assault and Battery charges. Debate the reasonableness of knocking the camera away and grabbing the kid’s arm all you want, nothing he did could possibly justify grabbing him by the neck like that.

Grabbing his arm and holding him could, with a hugemongous serving of “benefit of the doubt”, be seen as simple restraint. Grabbing the back of his neck was a distinctly hostile act. Unless there’s something important that’s been cut out of the video (and it doesn’t look like it), this Congressman’s behaviour is completely unacceptable. He needs to be facing criminal charges and impeachment.

I wonder how long till he abuses his position to manages to get the video pulled? [Edit: It wouldn’t do him any good, anyway. As Alan from SnarkyBytes quipped in a comment at Breda’s, “You can’t stop the signal.”]

(h/t Sharp as a Marble, I think – I don’t really remember where I saw it first, at this point.)


He’s issued an apology.

“I have seen the video posted on several blogs. I deeply and profoundly regret my reaction and I apologize to all involved. Throughout my many years of service to the people of North Carolina, I have always tried to treat people from all viewpoints with respect. No matter how intrusive and partisan our politics can become, this does not justify a poor response. I have and I will always work to promote a civil public discourse.”

Rep. Bob Etheridge (NC-02)

Of course, there’s more posterior covering going on, too.

Democrats are attempting to shift some of the blame by questioning whether Etheridge was set up by conservatives, Politico’s Ben Smith reports. “One minute this guy is interviewing a member of Congress on camera and the next a video is released with his face blurred out? If that doesn’t tell you this is a Republican Party hatchet job, nothing will,” Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse told Politico.

Sorry, Brad, that doesn’t wash. Even if it was a “Republican Party hatchet job,” nothing on that video justifies Etheridge’s physical assault on the person questioning him. “Oh, crap, this looks bad! Blame the Republicans!” won’t work.

(h/t on the update to SnarkyBytes)

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  1. Those pesky unenumerated rights « Curses! Foiled Again!

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