When University of Florida student Andrew Meyer was given the chance to question senator John Kerry in a Q&A session on Monday, he did not intend to hold back. Neither did the university cops who tasered and arrested the 21 year old after he refused to leave the lecture hall. Video of the struggle immediately surfaced on YouTube, and it has continued making a wave, inciting national debate on freedom of speech, police brutality and Meyer’s intentions.
Known around campus as a prankster with a knack for stirring controversy, Meyer’s Web site also documents his passion for political change. Perhaps Meyer was just playing around, not to be taken seriously, but he was harmless nonetheless. Although there’s a blurry quality to the video, YouTube is flawless at showing unmediated transparency. Meyer may have wanted to provoke and cause a circus, but the video clearly shows how the act quickly turned against him. Even Kerry said that he “could have handled the situation without interruption.”
Regardless of whether or not Meyer had self-promoting intentions, what the cameras caught and YouTube exposed is an issue well worth the attention, at least until a new viral wonder surfaces next week. In the fight between authority and rebellion, cops may be (over) relying on tasers, but students are using the viral volts to the max.
The original YouTube video has been viewed over half a million times, CNN has aired it on television and it’s currently #1 on Digg.com. Over 2,500 people have joined the Facebook group, named after Meyer’s famous last words before the shocking incident, “Don’t Tase Me, Bro,” which has already become a slogan for the college crowd, their self-important, well-intended jokester of a martyr and their weapon of choice, YouTube.