Assault Charges for Etheridge?

I’m a little late to the game on the whole Etehridge scandal, because FSM as my witness, I saw the name Etheridge I thought it was about the singer doing something awful, like asserting that gays should have the right to marriage or the same rights as everyone else. After I figured out it was a Congressmen, I then ignored the story because there is video and right-wing hacks involved. I’m not getting burned Acorn style again.

But I think Glenn does have a fair point. Whether or not the video is edited or not, why aren’t there assault charges being filed based on what we have seen?






109 replies
  1. 1
    4tehlulz says:

    You would think that Big Hollywood would want a scalp. Quite curious indeed.

  2. 2
    cleek says:

    maybe charges are in-process ?

  3. 3

    I hate to say it this early in the morning, or anytime, but I saw the video yesterday, and I have to agree with GG. Maybe simple assault or battery, but clearly over the line and some degree of criminal behavior. The Breitbart fuckers are annoying as hell, but Etheridge is a public figure, and it comes with the territory. I will say I have seen wingers behave like this in the past, so it is bi partisan. I think Etheridge is a blue dog, so there is that. But certainly over the line.

  4. 4
    TR says:

    To file assault charges, you need the alleged victim to swear out the complaint.

    And with the kid’s face weirdly blurred out on the video and his identity still kept secret, it seems they’re unwilling to do that. Coupled with the Breitbart connection, that makes me more than a little suspicious about the broader context here.

    Yes, what the rep. did was wrong and yes, he should have apologized. But unless this guy has a history of John McCain Rage, I’d have to think there’s more to the story than our fair and balanced reporters would have us believe.

  5. 5
    mai naem says:

    Well, if I was a conservative nutcase trying to create an election issue by attempting to inflame the guy I wouldn’t want to be pressing charges either . BTW, if Joe Wilson or Michele Bachman had done this they wouldn’t have even apologized and furthermore, would be collecting money over this. I think Etheridge should at least be collecting money.

  6. 6
    Labrachow says:

    While technically a battery here in illinois, this is the sort of incident that should not lead to criminal charges. Etheridge was clearly out of line but all of us need to be able to take a bit of handling as we move through life – especially in a contentious situation of our own making. The tendency to involve the police in every dispute is one of the reasons this country is in such a sorry state. Each of us needs to take responsibility for the fallout from our actions. As a corollary, when we are intruded upon by another, why not seek a resolution deal with that person in an adult way before running to a cop-mommy. By the way, I am a proud liberal.

  7. 7
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    Whether or not the video is edited or not, why aren’t there assault charges being filed based on what we have seen?

    Because the edited video doesn’t tell us whether Etheridege was initially blocking the guy from sticking a camera in his face…which in some cases could itself be considered assault.

    Interesting that there doesn’t seem to be a video showing the entire incident from the other camera’s POV. From the first part it’s clear that the guy’s camera was just a few inches from Etheridege’s face.

    And I don’t think the fact that Etheridge apologized for his reaction equals an admission of criminal assault.

  8. 8

    @Zuzu’s Petals: I didn’t know the video was edited. Interesting, but not surprising per the ACORN Chronicles.

  9. 9
    Xboxershorts says:

    @mai naem:

    These were not conservative nutcases. These were new recruits to the wingnut welfare circuit. College kids recruited early receiving special grants for doing special projects for special venues.

  10. 10
    jibeaux says:

    Well, I’m with TR. We don’t even know who this kid is and he doesn’t seem to want us to know. It’s not a justification for the video, because sheesh, if some douchebag is hounding you with a mike and a camera, how hard is it to say “no comment” , or “I’m sorry, if you’re not going to identify yourself I’m not going to answer your questions” and Keep On Walking? Isn’t that politics 101? It’s the most obvious of ambushes. And it’s annoying because Etheridge is a rep one district over, and he actually showed a little bit of balls voting for health care and I was going to send him some money for his campaign. Dummy.

  11. 11
    Van says:

    While it’s definitely assault, someone generally has to file charges. I know it’s wrong but I enjoy seeing him manhandle those twerps. I think I’ll send him a donation.

  12. 12
    burnspbesq says:

    If the local DA decides that he or she has other, more important uses for his or her scarce prosecutorial resources, I won’t second-guess that decision. I suspect the alleged victims would be OK with that, too – they would probably perjure themselves at trial, not so much because they are bad people, but rather due to an inability to distinguish between the truth and their fantasies.

  13. 13
    some other guy says:

    I’m not surprised the kid in the video doesn’t want to be identified. He probably doesn’t want to be forever known as the kid who physically dominated by a 70-year old man. Even without seeing his face, you can tell by his body language that he’s very close to pissing himself. This little wanna-be bully clearly thought he would be the one doing intimidating when he ambushed his subject with a camera and instead nearly got his little ass kicked. Just like when a celebrity loses his temper and beats up a paparazzi, I have a hard time sympathizing with the supposed victim here.

  14. 14
    KCinDC says:

    What TR said. You can’t have an assault without a victim. The fact that the alleged victims are hiding rather than trumpeting their victimhood all around the blogosphere is one of several indications that there’s something fishy going on here.

  15. 15
    Agoraphobic Kleptomaniac says:

    From now on, when these morons show up shoving cameras in your face, take a chapter from the World Cup… Take a dive. It will give you some space. What Ethridge did was the political equivalent of a headbutt to the chest.

  16. 16
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    @General Egali Tarian Stuck:

    Well it appears to have involved two cameras, and we only see the larger scene from the second camera’s perspective when Etheridge goes to grab the guy’s arm. Either that or there was one camera and they edited out the part between the lens getting up close and personal with Etheridge’s face and the kid getting up there in Etheridge’s face himself.

    Either way, they were definitely in his face.

  17. 17
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    @mai naem:

    Well, if I was a conservative nutcase trying to create an election issue by attempting to inflame the guy I wouldn’t want to be pressing charges either .

    Right, ’cause if they did they’d have to provide ALL the video plus answer all kindsa inconvenient questions.

    Easier to just fan the flames. Win win.

  18. 18
    cleek says:

    my prediction: the “college student” will show up on FOX sometime this week, in a wheelchair and neck brace, telling everyone he was a “lifelong Democrat” who was just doing a report for school.

    then we’ll learn he had volunteered for the campaigns of two local teabag candidates. but nobody will talk about that outside of lefty blogs.

    then he’ll start showing up on the DC gossip shows, and the story will grow bigger and wilder.

    then, three months from now, after Etheridge has gone to court and paid his fine and completed his community service, the NYT will get around to printing a story about his GOP past and how Mr College Student’s story might have a couple of serious holes in it – they won’t mention that they should’ve investigated these things when the story was hot!

  19. 19
    brantl says:

    I doubt very much that there should be charges here, probably because of mitigating circumstances. It’s OK to expect that our representatives use their heads and keep a cool head, and this guy didn’t; but it should also be OK expect that a cop might say, “OK, you got in his face he got in your face, no blood, no foul, get the hell out of here and leave each other alone, got me?”, isn’t it?

    I’d bet money that a cop has already seen this, and said to the kid, why were you sticking that camera right in his face?

    Again, I’d expect better from one of our representatives, but this kid had no business getting in his face like that, either.

  20. 20
    RP says:

    Because charges are almost never filed in minor incidents like this. If he is charged, he’ll be the Martha Stewart of assaulters (is that a word?).

  21. 21
    Tim I says:

    @Van:

    Seconded!

  22. 22
    jon says:

    Assault in DC isn’t a serious thing unless the victim got hurt (apparently not, unless the rest of this “explosive” video contains some stolen footage from Jackass.) This is misdemeanor stuff, and members of Congress get some immunity from dealing with such things while in session. “Breach of the peace” hardly applies if the camera-wielding doofuses are partisan activists, I’d guess. So watch out, interns!

    As for the “students” and their “project”, I’m interested in knowing more about their syllabus. I hope this isn’t a university that gets public funding, because partisan activities of this sort aren’t looked at kindly by “conservatives” when the shoe’s on the other foot.

  23. 23
    Zach says:

    Assault requires injury or the knowledge that what you’re doing will likely cause injury. Grabbing someone’s wrist without trying to twist it or throw it to the ground doesn’t count. I’m sure there’s some charge that might have success… false imprisonment, harassment, etc, but assault would be a hard case to make I think.

    Am I the only one who wishes this were considered a reasonable, albeit stupid, response to someone shoving a camera a foot from your face whilst spouting nonsense? There ought to be some anti-paparazzi law wherein you aren’t allowed to record someone from less than 3 feet without explicit permission.

    Edit: And obviously none of that precludes censure by the Senate, which he totally deserves for blatant idiocy if nothing else.

  24. 24

    You do not interfere with a member of Congress going about their business.

    In the old days, and I am probably entirely wrong on this, I know, the Washington D.C. police and the Capitol police would probably have beaten those two young men into a light coma by sundown and would have had them transported to Prince George’s County where they could be detained on charges of molesting a garden gnome.

    This was an ambush gone bad. All of the clever and witty things they were going to say were forgotten so that they could blurt out something about supporting “the Obama Agenda.” Well, of course a Democrat Congressman supports the Obama Agenda. How is that supposed to be an intelligent or thoughtful thing to say?

    The best way to stop this sort of thing is for someone to be arrested and tried for breaking the law–just don’t do it in Louisiana.

  25. 25
    cat48 says:

    I think he was too close to Etheridge’s face w/the camera. That bothers me. Also the fact Etheridge is older bothers me. Frankly, I’m appalled by the kid’s behavior. He didn’t have breaking news or anything. Etheridge wasn’t leaving a courtroom after a verdict or something where reporters normally act crazed. Why couldn’t he just be polite? I couldn’t be on that jury obviously. The little snot asked for it! Rudeness really bothers me.

  26. 26
    Zach says:

    This was an ambush gone bad. All of the clever and witty things they were going to say were forgotten so that they could blurt out something about supporting “the Obama Agenda.”

    This sort of video might be useful in campaigns against vulnerable Dems who might try to distance themselves from Obama… whether they say yes or just keep walking.

  27. 27
    TR says:

    @Agoraphobic Kleptomaniac:

    From now on, when these morons show up shoving cameras in your face, take a chapter from the World Cup… Take a dive. It will give you some space. What Ethridge did was the political equivalent of a headbutt to the chest.

    “Etheridge! Pourquoi?! Pourquoi?!

  28. 28
    TR says:

    @cat48:

    The little snot asked for it! Rudeness really bothers me.

    I used to live in NC, and I think that attitude might be fairly common in this district. The kid seems like an entitled little shit cramming a camera in an older man’s face, and the fact that Etheridge put him under his arm like a stern grandfather might not be held against him.

  29. 29

    @Zach: Yes, but how does that advance anything other than the simplistic agenda of people who aren’t going to win anyhow?

    It’s a fairly safe bet that if your seat is not in danger of being lost, you’re going to be re-elected. For all of the bluster about “taking back Congress,” incumbents rarely lose. Congressman Etheridge should have made fun of their cheap, off-the-rack suits from JCPennys and offered them a ride home. And then he should have dropped them off at the nearest Capitol Hill police checkpoint, pantomiming the act of beating up a vagrant as he drove away.

  30. 30
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    @Zach:

    Assault requires injury or the knowledge that what you’re doing will likely cause injury.

    Well yes, for “attempted battery” assault. However, there’s also “intent to frighten” assault, which only requires a threatening act that puts someone in reasonable fear of immediate injury, however slight…and can include “offensive touching.”

    I think the camera guy might qualify on that second score.

  31. 31
    Michael says:

    @Zuzu’s Petals:

    From the first part it’s clear that the guy’s camera was just a few inches from Etheridege’s face.

    Stick a camera in my face and get close like those little punks, there’d be some punk ass laying on the ground with loose teeth, I guarantee it.

  32. 32

    @Zuzu’s Petals: And then there’s the fact that a Member of Congress, walking the streets of Washington D.C. can basically do whatever he or she thinks is appropriate if someone is interfering with their ability to do the business of the people.

    Egalitarianism goes out the window if you think you can stand on the sidewalk and harangue a Member. Had this been Tom DeLay, these two young fellows would be smeared between two jersey wall barriers and forced to forever drink their meals.

    My nostalgia for good old-fashioned police brutality dates me, I know.

  33. 33
    Michael says:

    @cleek:

    three months from now, after Etheridge has gone to court and paid his fine and completed his community service, the NYT will get around to printing a story about his GOP past and how Mr College Student’s story might have a couple of serious holes in it – they won’t mention that they should’ve investigated these things when the story was hot!

    Of course, by that point, he’ll have a column of his own at the Washington Post.

    Good times.

  34. 34
    georgia pig says:

    @TR: That would likely be true for Etheridge’s district. GG is being his normal drama queen self. These kinds of confrontations, sans cameras, occur on a daily basis without anyone being hauled in. Not that Etheridge wasn’t wrong, but the reporter appeared to be completely unschooled in how to do this, didn’t identify himself, got way too familiar and ended up messing with the wrong guy at the wrong time. If you’re doing this kind of thing, you always should say something like “Hello Congressman, I’m _________ from ___________, can we speak with you for a moment?” How would you react if some punk approached you without any introduction on the sidewalk, refused to identify himself, shoved a camera within inches of your face and asked “Do you support the Obama agenda?” I would be inclined to kick his ass. I suspect that’s why Breitbart isn’t taking credit and no charges are being pressed, because a lot a guys, particularly those of Etheridge’s age, would have reacted the same way. There’s a front page story in the Raleigh paper about it this morning, he profusely apologized without any excuses and you have the predictable chorus of Republicans “galvanizing” in opposition, which consists of ginning up outrage to push contributions for Etheridge’s opponent. I doubt that Etheridge will really pay any price for this particular incident other than the fundraising spike for the opponent. He is more at risk because he’s in a purple district and he voted for HCR.

  35. 35
    burnspbesq says:

    Regardless of what the video looks like, it does not constitute all of the relevant evidence that a conscientious prosecutor would consider before making a decision whether to file charges. Which means that Greenwald’s “file review” is no more entitled to be taken seriously than Bill Frist’s “diagnosis” of Terri Schiavo.

  36. 36
    Erik Vanderhoff says:

    I don’t care your ideological leanings, how do you miss that golden opportunity to legally punch a sitting Congressman in the face?

  37. 37
    wonkie says:

    I have a vague memory of Mike Stark confronting a Republican Senator and being really truuly beat up by three thugs employed by the Senator. Stark tried to press charges but the local law enofrcement refused. Does anyone remember this incident?

    My point? Etheridge shouldn’t have reacted as he did. It was deliberate provocation which only means that Etheridge’s response was stupid and undisciplinned as well as illegal. He shouldn’t have fallen into the trap.

    But I’m sick of the doulbe standard. I’m sick of the endless excusing of rihtwing thuggery while there’s a big pile on every time a Democrat scrtews up.

    I donn’t know hwo to get out of that trap because i do’t want our team to behae as badly as their’s does. But as long as we act civilized and Repubicans don’t they will get away with thuggery and our people won’t.

  38. 38
    someguy says:

    Etheridge needs to go. He should have punched that little right wing f***er right in the mouth. That he didn’t, makes me question his character.

  39. 39
    Allan says:

    But I think Glenn does have a fair point.

    Purity troll.

  40. 40
    Mumphrey says:

    Greenwald claims the “unedited” shot makes Etheridge look bad; I looked at it, and I can’t see much of anything but a black blur for most of the 46 seconds.

    It’s true, public figures need to deal with publicity, even publicity they don’t like, but something smells here. It doesn’t look like Etheridge did much but grab the guy. The guy stuck his camera in Etheridge’s face and wouldn’t tell him who he was. With all the thinly veiled calls for violence against Democrats, I can understand Etheridge might be a little leery when some dick gets in his face and won’t tell him who he is.

    I know conservatives are going to be going on about how we’d be up in arms if a Republican had done this to a liberal kid. That’s true, but it’s important to keep in mind what the context is: Republicans have a long history now of calling for violence; their supporters have a history of acting on it. Democrats have no such history. I don’t see how the conservatives have any right to demand a benefit of the doubt from us.

  41. 41

    Whether or not the video is edited or not, why aren’t there assault charges being filed based on what we have seen?

    Because if the alleged victim (and the boss who sent him to approach the defendant) were legitimately involved as witnesses for a prosecution they’d be legally banned from going on Fox News to talk about it.

  42. 42
    Matt says:

    No self respecting wedding-party-bombing, don’t-tase-me-bro nation could possibly call this an assault.

  43. 43
    Gustopher says:

    Because the filthy rugrats spent 20 minutes harassing an old man, thrusting a camera in his face, blocking his path, and probably shoved him.

    If the unedited video came out, we would all be thinking the congresscritter was surprising cool and collected in the circumstances.

  44. 44
    AxelFoley says:

    @some other guy:

    I’m not surprised the kid in the video doesn’t want to be identified. He probably doesn’t want to be forever known as the kid who physically dominated by a 70-year old man. Even without seeing his face, you can tell by his body language that he’s very close to pissing himself. This little wanna-be bully clearly thought he would be the one doing intimidating when he ambushed his subject with a camera and instead nearly got his little ass kicked. Just like when a celebrity loses his temper and beats up a paparazzi, I have a hard time sympathizing with the supposed victim here.

    LOL, he did get manhandled by a senior citizen, didn’t he?

  45. 45
    LizardBreath says:

    Maybe I’m just having a partisan reaction here, but slapping a camera away when someone puts it an inch or two away from your face? Seems totally legitimate. Grabbing the guy’s wrist to move his hand away from Etheridge’s face? Also seems totally legitimate. The only thing that’s exceptionable about what Etheridge did was how long he held on to the guy’s wrist, and the controlling hug/grab at the end.

    The thing is, they weren’t just asking questions, they were being physically intrusive and threatening (oh, not terrifyingly threatening, but in the same sense that having an old man grab your wrist is a physical threat.) If they’d stayed a couple of feet away from him, he wouldn’t have been justified in touching them. Someone gets within six inches of your face, and I really think you’re allowed to make them stop it.

  46. 46
    KevinNYC says:

    For a Civil Libertarian, Glenn seems awfully eager to have the police go out and arrest people before a complaint is sworn out.

    Was the Congressman out of line? Absolutely.
    Was the interviewer? Absolutely.

    The kid has got a Flip Type/Cell phone video camera. You can tell it’s a wide angle lens from the video. (Zoomed in it would be out of focus.) It’s so close to the congressman that both his mouth and his lips are not in the frame. There’s no reason for that. Particularly when there is a someone else also filming. That’s not journalism.

    The congressman grabs the camera from his hand that’s when it switches to the other camera’s shot. There is about a couple of second overlap in the video so “Who are you?” and “Whoa” are repeated. The kids was obviously trying to stay behind the lens and do a “gotcha” on this guy while staying anonymous. I don’t think “Who are you?” is an unreasonable question. Again, a journalist would identify themselves. Even a college journalist would do that.

    This could have a been a “What’s frequency, Kenneth?” or Mark David Chapman type thing? My verdict is the congressman went over the line, but was provoked.

  47. 47
    Navigator says:

    Two words: pepper spray.

  48. 48
    rickstersherpa says:

    I smell a Breitbart/Rove Ratfuck here. And Glenn is a good enough lawyer to know that in cases of simple assault, usually an individual has to swear a complaint and we are certainly seein an edited video designed to make Etheridge look as bad as possible. And as Sam Spade said after slapping around Peter Lorre, “you can swear your complaint and I will swear my complaint, and the police can all take us to jail.”

  49. 49
    Seanly says:

    Fuck the conservaturd kids. Maybe the congressman thought these unidentified people meant him harm. The congressman’s grip on his wrist looked like he wanted to hold the guy – maybe wait for cops to show up.

    Ambush journalism is obnoxious but legitimate. However, as stated above, the kids should’ve identified themselves.

    And to be perfectly honest, I am not above being just as two-faced as the typical conservative blowhard. Little smarmy bastards deserved whatever beatdown an old man wanted to give them. Feel free to flame me for it. i’m just sick of all the white males who think their ill-informed view of the world is the correct one.

  50. 50
    Seanly says:

    Fuck the conservaturd kids. Maybe the congressman thought these unidentified people meant him harm. The congressman’s grip on his wrist looked like he wanted to hold the guy – maybe wait for cops to show up.

    Ambush journalism is obnoxious but legitimate. However, as stated above, the kids should’ve identified themselves.

    And to be perfectly honest, I am not above being just as two-faced as the typical conservative blowhard. Little smarmy bastards deserved whatever beatdown an old man wanted to give them. Feel free to flame me for it. i’m just sick of all the white males who think their ill-informed view of the world is the correct one.

  51. 51
    trollhattan says:

    Perhaps there’s been no complaint filed and perhaps that’s because they don’t want to be forced to release all the unedited video in discovery.

    Also, too, I second the post above that this appears to perhaps be battey but I don’t see assault as I understand the definition. And yes, what about that Obama agenda(tm)? Huh?

  52. 52
    Paul L. says:

    @Seanly:
    I would guess you would be the first to scream bloody murder if a rightwinger did the same to Max Blumenthal during one of his ambush interviews.
    trollhattan

    Perhaps there’s been no complaint filed and perhaps that’s because they don’t want to be forced to release all the unedited video in discovery.

    The full, unedited video have been released.
    So you are just blowing smoke.

    I then ignored the story because there is video and right-wing hacks involved. I’m not getting burned Acorn style again.

    John follows DNC talking points Big surprise.

    6. Push hard w/ blogs the lack of credibility inherent to anything Breitbart does/posts, given its role in the debunked ACORN videos…

  53. 53
    Brachiator says:

    Nothing much here to merit a column, much less three feverish GG updates. As others have noted, it’s up to the individual wants to swear a complaint. And it’s a waste of time to try to discern motives from a video.

    Must be a very slow news day in GG’s world.

  54. 54
    roseyv says:

    My first, completely uneducated guess would be because if charges were filed, the unedited tape would probably have to be submitted as evidence, which might prove embarrassing (or whatever it is these guys have in the place where most normal humans would experience “embarassment”).

  55. 55
    kay says:

    @Paul L.:

    Oh, Paul who is stopping them from going down the police and filing an incident report? Have they done that? Has the prosecutor declined to pursue charges? Do you have any specific information on this at all?

    You’re jumping the gun, yet again. I love how you’re all for “process” unless it’s applied to people you dislike.

    You can’t view a video and determine “he should be charged with assault, since he hasn’t been, yet, that’s evidence of a conspiracy”. You have to ask some more questions. It’s not going to be college student versus congressman. It’s going to be state versus congressman.

    If you determine that the state didn’t bring charges, come back and holler, with that specific information. You don’t know jack shit yet.

    Hang onto your outrage for 48 hours until the facts are in.

  56. 56

    @Paul L.:

    Push hard w/ blogs the lack of credibility inherent to anything Breitbart does/posts

    One really doesn’t have to “push hard” because anything Breitbart does/posts is prima facie stupid, vacuous and bordering on the insane.

  57. 57
    kay says:

    @Brachiator:

    It’s not, though, technically, up to the person assailed. The prosecutor can determine to file charges, independent of the person assailed.
    We don’t know enough yet. We don’t even know who on the state side is aware this happened. Greenwald is jumping the gun.
    Greenwald’s constantly announcing who should be charged with what, with great sureness and outrage. It’s not up to him, and it’s not up to the victim, either. If no one is charged. Greenwald can question why no one was charged, but he simply doesn’t have that information yet.

  58. 58

    @roseyv: I would also surmise that these anonymous “college students” would have to reveal their identities, which could also be a deal breaker. They rang the bell, no need to reveal themselves.

  59. 59
    Paul L. says:

    @kay:
    Wow that Strawman burns bright.
    Where did I say I want Etheridge to get charged?
    If the “students” do not want to press charges because they are afraid that the DNCC will target them for retribution like they did Joe the Plumber then Etheridge gets away with it.

    Of course here is how a Real Pro dodges inconvenient questions.

    “You’re not going to get an interview,” Holdren told CNSNews.com as he was approached.
    “I just want to ask you real quick about a lot of your past work. I’ve read it and–” said CNSNews.com.
    “No, no. Listen, this is a stale topic,” said Holdren. “If you read it and you have a problem, you’re misreading it. I didn’t come here to be interviewed. I came here to honor my friends. Thanks a lot.”

  60. 60
    Lysana says:

    Heck, the “unedited” videos are edited. You still can’t see anyone’s face other than Etheridge, and they added those amateur titling screens. I’ve been duking this out on a post I made to a site WP won’t let me link here (why, I have no damn idea), and the teabaggers there are falling into line about how respectful the kid was and how awful Etheridge was like they’re reciting Stepford programming. It’s really sad.

  61. 61
    EthylEster says:

    As I watched the video, I wondered what the congress critter would have done if the kid had said “Congressman, let go of me or I’m going to seriously consider kicking you in the balls.”

    But instead each idiot just kept repeating his stupid statements/questions.

  62. 62
    kay says:

    @burnspbesq:

    Regardless of what the video looks like, it does not constitute all of the relevant evidence that a conscientious prosecutor would consider before making a decision whether to file charges. Which means that Greenwald’s “file review” is no more entitled to be taken seriously than Bill Frist’s “diagnosis” of Terri Schiavo.

    Bravo. Why doesn’t he call the police or prosecutor in that jurisdiction and find out if they’re even aware this happened?

    The whole freaking world don’t spend their lives on Memeorandum. It’s probably a misdemeanor. They should be reviewing submitted video for evidence of any possible crimes, just on their own volition?

  63. 63
    Albaz says:

    I am so proud of the commenters at this site with, for the most part, calm, reasonable views being expressed. I will endeavor to change that slightly.

    I burned out on Greenwald with this one. He is either an unmitigated hypocritical whiny jerkoff trying to establish some creds as being even-handed or dumber than he pretends to be. And the comments on his site were all flame warfare and a significant amount divided between rightwing huzzahs and devotees hemming and hawing or crowing about the obvious criminal behavior of Etheridge.

    How preposterous to advocate criminal charges only against the Congressman for this was an invasion of the Congressman’s personal space and (oh yes, something for which even a Congressperson walking on a public sidewalk has expectations of) privacy by someone with obvious ill intent! WTF is the “full” Obama “agenda” but a right wing buzzword intended to trap the Congressman?

    I’m a few years older than the Congressman and I might have reacted a little slower but certainly, once the invader of my space and privacy had persisted despite my obvious discontent with his actions toward me, I might have, at the very least, done the same as he.

    Greenwald can carry out his mean little “agenda” without my fiduciary or moral support. While many of the topics he takes up are worthy of some attention, the mean spiritedness of some and nit-picky idiocy of others wastes my time.

    His claims that this obviously edited video (released a week after the incident, I see) was all the evidence one needs to persecute the Congressman smells of the wild hysteria following O’Keefe’s Acorn release.

    Screw Glenn Greenwald… I gave him the benefit of the doubt for too long. He’s off of my RSS feed. I get a smidgeon of my life back.

  64. 64
    kay says:

    @Paul L.:

    If the “students” do not want to press charges because they are afraid that the DNCC will target them for retribution like they did Joe the Plumber then Etheridge gets away with it.

    “Gets away” with what? Bullshit, you don’t have him convicted. Now we have “crimes” before charges?

    I’m consistent, Paul. I wait for the facts. You’ve already convinced yourself that the student didn’t bring charges because he’s afraid of some vast Left wing conspiracy. Could you go further out? We’ve now added a whole angle.

    YOU KNOW NOTHING.

    Look, this is lazy. Why don’t conservatives muster their formidable investigate reporting skills and call some people before spinning this elaborate yarn?

    The reason this smear tactic sucks is we’ve now gone from Congressman committed assault to Congressman “got away with crime”. Neither of those things are true yet.

  65. 65
    Glen Tomkins says:

    Oh, please

    “Assault” happens all the time, since this crime pretty much boils down to getting in someones’s face. You can’t be sure because at the onset of the video you’re seeing it only from the point of view of a video recorder held by the assaulter/assaultee, but it sure looks like the recorder is shoved so far into Etheridge’s face and normally expected personal space, that his actions would clearly constitute assault.

    Anybody assaulted is allowed to react in defense, as long as that action is proportionate. Pulling out a gun and shooting the person holding the recorder, unless there are other things going on outside the view of what is recorded, would clearly be disproportionate. Grabbing the hand that held the recorder that “assaulted” you, is not, to my mind, clearly disproportionate, even if it strays on over into “battery”.

    So, no, no assault and battery charges. But, yes, Democratic Congresscritter successfully ambushed. These people succeeded in provoking a hasty, bad for PR even if not criminal, overreaction from someone we would all like to think, in our cozy little 3d Grade Civics world, is supposed to be some grave and unflappable Solon. They haven’t released the video taken early in the incident by the assaulter’s back-up man, the person who did the recording later in the episode, because that would have made clear how in-your-face the assaulter pushed his recorder to provoke Etheridge.

    I am not the least bit apologetic if this sounds tribal. If the other tribe gets away with this, if Etheridge takes the least political hit for his unfortunately non-photogenic, but quite natural and predictable, reaction to having a recorder shoved to what looks like inches of his face, then our tribe needs to start doing this to their tribe’s Congresscritters, only more forcefully, consistently, and relentlessly.

    You get to choose what side you’re on in a fight, but you don’t get to choose the tactics with which the fight is conducted. The other side can drag the contest down to whatever depths they choose, and if our tribe is not fully prepared to respond effectively, with tit-for-tat if that works, with playing the martyr if that works, the other tribe wins, and are encouraged to try that winning tactic again and again, only more forcefully, consistently and relentlessly.

    There is no right or wrong in politics. The only thing that counts in politics is what wins. If you don’t like that, stay out of politics. Don’t try to force your idea of moral behavior onto one side only, because you imagine that is the side of the angels, and you are, of course, on the side of the angels.

    If this ambush wins, our tribe needs to start going the same tactics one better, period, no hesitation or regrets over our lost innocence in this descent into tribalism. That’s just self-pity and indolence trying to sell itself as morality.

  66. 66
    jfxgillis says:

    John:

    Whether or not the video is edited or not, why aren’t there assault charges being filed based on what we have seen?

    Because the punk-ass bratty kid won’t identify himself and won’t file a complaint?

    Good lawd. And you whine about firebaggers. Some asshole kid instigates some grumpy old man into a “get off my lawn” moment and you want to make literally a federal case out of it?

    Also, of course, conveniently, the exact five seconds that would determine whether the brat initiated the physical contact happens to be the exact five seconds missing from the video. Hmmmmmmm.

  67. 67
    Jebediah says:

    @Seanly:

    Yeah, me too. Too many calls for violence against “libruls” – an aggressive stranger suddenly shoves something in your face and wont identify himself? A swift, purely defensive punch in the face or pepper-spraying would be completely understandable.

  68. 68
    kay says:

    @Paul L.:

    Why don’t they call him up and schedule an interview?

    I just want to get this straight: when any conservative approaches any government employee, anywhere, that person is compelled to answer any question, or he’s guilty of some cover-up?

    Does this apply to conservative appointees? Can I follow them, and submit any video to media, and then you-all can determine what I should be charged with?

    The video is “unedited”. I promise. Pinky swear.

    In what fucking world is this valid? You’ve gone from citizen-reporter to roving attorney’s general. At some point, you’re going to have to turn it over to, you know, actual authorities.

  69. 69
    Will says:

    I’m just surprised that Glenn hasn’t made one of his trademark appearances in this comment thread to lecture all of the Etheridge defenders on their purity fail.

  70. 70
    Joseph Nobles says:

    Finally the unedited second video in the link above. It shows that Etheridge doesn’t strike the guy with the first camera. He grabs him by the wrist and then yanks the Flip camera out of his hands. Still technically assault, but the editing of the initial video makes it seem like Etheridge slaps the camera out of the guy’s hand.

    So, yes, the first edited video was deceitful. And, yes, Etheridge’s actions appear to be more “stern grandparent” than “berserk Congressman”. His entire point was the lack of respect the two cameramen were showing him. It’s clear even with the blurring that the first guy was yelling his questions while not looking at Etheridge in the eye. He was watching him through the camera. That’s what hacked Etheridge off. Etheridge forced him to look him in the eye while they were talking. He was wrong to get physical, but you almost understand.

  71. 71
    kay says:

    @Paul L.:

    I would remind you, Paul, that when the ACORN video did eventually make it to a prosecutor, after they were tried and convicted by bloggers, it was determined that the video was edited.

    I would also remind you that you, personally, accused the judge in the trespass incident of “destroying exonerating evidence” after the idiot had already pled. You nitwits were calling for an appeal when the defendant pled.

    You may need to brush up on your criminal process. Your tin foil hat is getting in the way of any thought function.

  72. 72
    John Bird says:

    I’m a Democrat and I live in North Carolina, and Etheridge should probably be investigated based on this video. I’d be all for charging him criminally if possible.

    As someone commented on Salon.com, we have this belief in America nowadays that our politicians are allowed to be shielded from the public unless they go through “the right channels”. They simply aren’t and when we pretend that we are, we end up with the martini-swigging, Super-Soaker Beltway crew “defining the narrative” as they pal around with the people they cover.

    Do I care whether this was a right-wing gotcha-game? No. You’re a U.S. Congressman, Bob. Don’t attack people who ask you questions on the street. This isn’t Showtime Western Cocksucker Hour.

  73. 73
    Paul L. says:

    @kay:
    I see that I was completely wrong about Etheridge.

    Naturally, conservative shills amongst us have claimed that he’s engaged in a viscious assault. This is a complete and total misunderstanding, and likely an intentional one at that. Etheridge, like so many other representatives, is just a friendly guy, inclined to hold hands, even hug, people who demonstrate an inquisitive nature similar to his. Just listen as he asks questions, like “who are you?”

    I am also glad you support that Congressman now have “a right to know who you are.”

  74. 74
    Joseph Nobles says:

    Oh, and the “students” blurred out their faces because they want to keep ratfucking Congresscritters. I wouldn’t be surprised if members of Congress swap stories about the various nuisances around the Capitol and word was getting out about those two. Until we know their identities and their interactions with other members of Congress, we will not know the full story here.

    @Paul L.: Oh, that’s awesome. Straight to the homophobia. You conservatives are nothing if not class acts.

  75. 75
    kay says:

    @Will:

    I’m not defending anyone. We have a process. Bloggers can’t bring charges, thank God, although they can announce people are “clearly” implicated in assault, and ‘should be” charged, apparently, leaving the impression that if he isn’t charged, something nefarious is afoot.

    “Clearly” is a red flag. When someone uses it, pause.

  76. 76
    cleek says:

    Greenwald’s hyperventilating ?
    shocking, truly. i’m shocked.

  77. 77

    Whew. I am glad I am not the only one to watch the video and say, “The fuck?” The kids were in the Congressman’s face, and they repeatedly refused to identify themselves. They kept pushing, and the Congressman grabbed one of the kids in frustration. I heard it being talked about before I watched the video, and I thought it was going to be much worse than it was. Honestly! My nephew has pushed me harder than that. If the kids didn’t file a report, then why should the Congressman be charged? And, if he does get charged, I’m going to buy a video camera and follow Michele Bachmann around until I get her to snap (and I’m sure I can get her to snap).

    @kay: He can join the group with that Huff guy and the others who think they have the right to make citizen’s arrest of court officials.

  78. 78
    kay says:

    @Paul L.:

    He asked a question. Now he has to be silent in the face of conservative inquiry?

    “Just answer the question.” Is that how this works? Is he on trial?

    I was using hyperbole, but I can see I was mistaken. You do think you’re some kind of citizen-police force.

    Sadly, you’re still going to have convince a prosecutor to get into court. Thank God for that. Maybe you can set up some bogus citizen grand jury deal, and just get your own court system rolling. It’s not like you haven’t tried that before.

  79. 79

    @John Bird: I don’t care about ‘right channels’, but I do care about civility. The students were being assholes and shoving their cameras in the Congressman’s face, and then they refused to identify themselves. If they had said, “Hi, I’m Joe Smith from Georgetown. I’m doing a project on the policy of healthcare. I would like to ask you a few questions,” I would be more sympathetic. And, I would say the same if the situation was reversed and the students doing the ambush were liberals and the Congressman a Republican.

  80. 80
    Albaz says:

    I’m not sure what waiting for moderation means. After I deleted some of the more bitter comments about Greenwald as blogger. I could care less about him as person, my comments were still not acceptable to whomever it is who decides such.

    Nonetheless, all of the points I would have made have since been made so fuck you… I have a life to live.

  81. 81
    licensed to kill time says:

    What would be the proper behavior when an unknown person shoves a cell phone cam in your face, I wonder? If you ignore them and keep walking they get to air video of you “refusing to answer questions”. If you respond to their question by saying “define the ‘Obama agenda’, you’ve given them an opening to frame the session. If you react angrily, they get to show your angry attitude. If you stand and argue, they get to edit your words to fit their agenda. If you stare blankly at them and refuse to speak, they get to show you looking like an idiot.

    I guess we need a style guide for ambush ‘interviews’.

  82. 82
    kay says:

    @asiangrrlMN:

    The reason that House members ask who you are is they want to know if you’re from their district. They ignore complaints from out of district activists, understandably.

  83. 83
    kay says:

    @licensed to kill time:

    I think he could ask them to schedule an interview. Look, they’re public servants but they have a right to go for a walk, and keep appointments and have a calendar.

    He completely over-reacted, and if someone (victim or prosecutor) wants to bring charges, charge away.

    But I don’t think he has a duty to answer every question asked, or stop every time he’s queried, and I think we should all stop relying on selectively produced video, of anything.

  84. 84
    cleek says:

    my only complaint with Etheridge is that he didn’t push the kid to the ground and kick him in the junk.

  85. 85
    licensed to kill time says:

    @kay:

    That would be my preference, I think. A brief “make an appointment, then maybe we can talk” and walk away.

    I wonder what was going on with Etheridge that day that made him so cranky.

  86. 86
    Brachiator says:

    @kay:

    It’s not, though, technically, up to the person assailed. The prosecutor can determine to file charges, independent of the person assailed.

    It’s not entirely up to the person assailed. He could file a complaint and the prosecutor could decline to pursue a prosecution. The prosecutor can investigate and make an independent decision to file charges. Interestingly enough, Greenwald wants to claim (one his divine sayso) that no investigation is necessary, we just need arrest and trial.

    We don’t know enough yet. We don’t even know who on the state side is aware this happened. Greenwald is jumping the gun.

    Yep. But it’s really not up to us at all to “know enough,” except as spectator speculators.

    First there was the Hot Tub Time Machine, and now there is the Blogosphere Grand Jury.

  87. 87
    jibeaux says:

    @licensed to kill time:

    I don’t know what’s wrong with a no comment, and a keep on walking. I don’t think that’s going to go viral on youtube or result in a front-page story in the N & O with your fevered apology, giant picture, and font size more common to “WA-R” headlines (that’s an Onion joke, never mind). It was just dumb, Etheridge is definitely old enough to know better than to be sucker punched by kids THAT dumb.

  88. 88
    Mike Stark says:

    No charges because:

    1) not all assaults are prosecuted; most minor assaults are ignored. If we prosecuted every push and shove, we’d have pretty long lines at the court house, wouldn’t we?

    2) happened on Capitol grounds where, believe it or not, Senators and Representatives are above the rule of law; it doesn’t reach them. Instead they are held accountable by the House and Senate Sergeant at Arms according to rules they set for themselves. When John Cornyn did something similar to me, I tried to file a complaint with Capitol Police. I was told that I couldn’t.

    3) see a lot more at the top post of StarkReports.com

    4) one more reminder – the prosecutor in Charlottesville declined prosecution of the gentlemen that assaulted me at the George Allen event. And it was within his discretion to do so. It’s always been the law that you cannot compel a prosecutor to embark on any prosecution. Attica settled that when all the kings horses and all the kings men walked free… The victims sued to force prosecutions and were told in a very plain opinion that the court could not force a prosecution.

  89. 89
    tkogrumpy says:

    @Zach: Zach,Zach,Zach, there is so much wrong with this I don’t know where to start. So I won’t.

  90. 90
    kay says:

    @Brachiator:

    Agreed. I’ve been really consistent on this. I think the ACORN thing sucked, and I think this sucks.
    I don’t know why it’s okay for media to rely on submitted video. They can’t keep doing this. Anyone can submit anything. I can edit an interview any way I want.
    It’s (somewhat) akin to how people assume “eye-witness” testimony is really reliable. It isn’t. There’s an opinion. There’s a view.
    I love that the maker’s word that it’s “unedited” is enough. It can be an unedited clip, where there was a prior event.

  91. 91
    tkogrumpy says:

    @Norman Rogers: Tsk Tsk Tsk.

  92. 92
    Glen Tomkins says:

    @licensed to kill time:

    I don’t think that we can assume that Etheridge was given the choice of passing his assaulter by. We can’t be sure of the exact angle where he stood vis-a-vis the assaulter, because the ambush team has, quite reasonably given their clear intent, not shown us all the video taken by the back-up man, but only cut to his camera after Etheridge responded to the assault by grabbing the hand thrust in his face. But, you know, whatever the exact angle, the last few frames we’re allowed to see before they cut to the back-up’s camera (and for all we know, the assaulter shoved his camera even further in Etheridge’s face than what they chose to show us), make clear that the assaulter was so close that he was almost certainly blocking Etheridge’s path no matter what the angle of approach.

    You’re right, we do see ambush videos pretty often, to the point that they’re a genre, and thus something that Congresscritters have to have a prepared response for. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen an example of the genre in which the filmers commit an assault, in which they don’t give their victim a chance to pass, a prior example in which the ambush is an actual assault, as opposed to a try at merely embarrassing the victim. Sure, the victim of the less aggressive ambush we’re more used to looks like a coward, afraid to answer questions, if he avails himself of that option of just walking by. In this case, the ambush team doesn’t seem to have been satisfied with that result, but went instead for provoking an embarrassing fight reaction by putting Etheridge in a fight-or-flight situtation, blocking his path (we know that there were at least two of them doing the accosting, and have no idea whether the back-up or back-ups helped completely block Etheridge’s advance) and shoving something inches from his face.

    Etheridge should be pressing charges for assault. He won’t because his filmed off-the-cuff reaction to being put in a fight-or-flight situation didn’t live up to our unrealistic expectations that our politicians be some impossible combination of Churchill and Gandhi. Politicians can and should rehearse the for the standard video ambush, but if we let the ambushers use actual assault to provoke their embarrassing reactions, that’s beyond anyone but a saint’s ability to consistently face down with calm and dignity.

  93. 93
    Nellcote says:

    My impression was that Etheridge was trying to get the kid’s face on camera when he pulled him close since the kid wouldn’t identify himself. It’s easier to do phony voiceovers if your face isn’t on camera.

  94. 94
    terry chay says:

    I don’t think Glenn has a fair point at all. Here is a lawyer who “forgets” what the law because of an animosity toward all politicians. He then uses his unique journalistic perch to convince others that justice isn’t being served.

    I’m all for this “college kid” swearing out a complaint, and am completely unsurprised that after three “updates” Glenzilla has refused to correct the blaring oversight in his article.

  95. 95
    mai naem says:

    I don’t know anything about Etheridge but i am figuring with him being from NC that he’s bluedog in a conservative district and these people are trying to get an Etheridge is for Scary BlackMuslimManOsama’s CommiePinkoSoschuleest Agenda WebAd out of this.

    Personally I found Mike Stark’s pieces to be somewhat on the rude side but he did identify himself. Max Blumenthal’s clips OTOH were just plain funny.

  96. 96
    jfxgillis says:

    @asiangrrlMN:

    Honestly! My nephew has pushed me harder than that.

    Aw hell, Rajon Rondo pushed Ron Artest harder than that.

    So let’s just call a technical on Etheridge and call it done.

  97. 97
    tkogrumpy says:

    @August J. Pollakhis@Albaz: “He’s off my RSS feed”. BwaaHawhaw. That’s gonna hurt.

  98. 98
    tkogrumpy says:

    @kay: Def; clearly- I don’t know if this is gonna fly, but what the hell, here goes.

  99. 99
    Zach says:

    @tkogrumpy: Thanks for the kind words. The statute that was quoted at big hollywood would not apply here; Greenwald just calls it obvious assault without getting into “assault by intimidation.” I’ve sat on a jury and weighed the evidence against the standards required to be guilty of assault 2. Greenwald also says that the cameraman “politely asked a question,” which is quite clearly not the case as shoving a camera in someone’s face does not fall under the umbrella of politeness. I think he should be censured by Congress for clearly acting below his office, but I don’t think this would be prosecuted anywhere in America except in the context of domestic violence or child abuse. You can spin how it can technically qualify as assault, but that’s like condemning bicyclists (the polite ones, that is) for creatively interpreting traffic laws.

  100. 100
    Pug says:

    If that is assault and battery, we are indeed a nation of pussies.

  101. 101
    kay says:

    @terry chay:

    Its not just that.
    It’s Greenwald’s opinion that he should be charged with assault. He viewed a video and formed an opinion. Why does he adopt this sanctimonious dismissive lecturing tone to his poor glutton-for-punishment commentors who disagree with his opinion?
    Two prosecutors could look at that (or any) video and draw two different conclusions. Greenwald is the only lawyer on the planet? His pronouncement is inviolable, and anyone who disagrees with him is a “tribalist”?

  102. 102
    fucen tarmal says:

    @Pug:

    having been arrested for being a big guy in public and issuing two “fuck you’s” to a mere bureaucratic transit official, i can tell you, they stretch the concept of assault to its breaking point, but even in my case, the only physical contact was the cops, on me….hence charges dropped/pled to a summary offense that still felt like eating shit, to take, but in the end was worth it to be done, and not face job/career impacting charges regardless of how trumped up they were….

    i do empathize with the notion that if you brush by a public official you will get jacked up and accused of being the one doing the jacking to boot…

    however, my non-personal sense of justice says, this is way to weak to meet a common sense standard of assault, battery, or anything of the sort…we are indeed wussies if we let this be the standard of assault.

  103. 103
    jon says:

    In DC, “battery” doesn’t appear on the books. “Assault” does, but it doesn’t look like anything more than a misdemeanor would be in the works for the Congressman. As for the camera placement, an assault charge could go against the two men. (DC ST § 22-404 looks to be the relevant statute.)

  104. 104
    Margaret says:

    Assault charges? What f-ing planet are you living on?
    My ex instructs my son to manhandle me (6 inches taller and 40 pounds heavier). I am battered and bruised. My ex breaks into my house. This whole time I call 911 three times, they never come; 2 hours later the police call and ask if I am okay.
    They say since I was beat up by a family member it was a civil, not criminal, matter.
    Why should some in your face college man get ONE BILLION TIMES more protection than me?
    WOMEN GET NO PROTECTION FROM ASSAULT IN AMERICA.
    Lets first stop the most dangerous and deadly violence in our country: family violence against women before we make a criminal case out of a stupid trivial incident that was a dumb responce to an egotistical provocation.

  105. 105
    Mike D. says:

    rickstersherpa #48:

    It’s not at all clear to me Glenn is a good enough lawyer to know that, at least on the criminal side. Living in the United States and maybe actually practising law could help with that probably but hey that’s his bidniss…

  106. 106
    Mike D. says:

    I have to say I think this could be a potentially deligitimizing moment for Glenn Greenwald in the eyes of many lawyers not in his flock of loyal faithful.

  107. 107
    Recall says:

    The best part of the video were the people walking by not giving a shit.

    Clearly, that kid was in danger.

  108. 108
    Mike D. says:

    I should say, I am not a lawyer. I’m just guessing about how they’d react to this, but I’m pretty sure the ones I know would sniff at this.

  109. 109
    General Washington says:

    SOETORO = FAIL

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