Tuesday, October 30, 2007

When Tasered, Apologize Profusely, and You Will Live.

October 30, 2007, 11:16 am
All Scores Settled in ‘Don’t Tase Me, Bro’ Affair

By Mike Nizza

Tags: florida, politics, protests, youtube
taserAndrew Meyer and Robert Griscti, his lawyer, in Gainesville, Fla., Monday night. (Photo: Charles Roop/Independent Florida Alligator, via Associated Press)

The Andrew Meyer seen in YouTube clips does not apologize. He rants at Senator John Kerry, struggles with police officers trying to escort him out of the room, implores them to “don’t tase me, bro,” and, quite disturbingly, wails in pain as they do it anyway.

But his lawyer, Robert Griscti, told the University of Florida campus newspaper that Mr. Meyer began drafting apologies immediately after his release on Sept. 18. Indeed, Mr. Meyer penned three separate apologies (available here) as part of a deal to avoid criminal charges, The Gaineseville Sun reports.

The saga ends with Mr. Meyer voluntarily taking an 18-month leave of absence from college and agreeing “to perform certain actions including making a donation to the American Cancer Society or performing community service,” the paper said.

In the letter addressed to the University of Florida community and the “Gator Nation the world over,” he gracefully delivered his first comments on the much-debated episode:

In society, as in life, there are consequences for not following the rules. In this instance, not following the rules has imposed consequences for many people other than myself, people who have seen their school, and perhaps their degree, tarnished in the eyes of others through no fault of their own.

Aside for apologizing for bringing negative attention to his university, he also apologized to “all concerned Americans,” admitting that “I lost my cool in that auditorium.” He continued:

I went there to ask an important question. The question of voter disenfranchisement in America cuts to the heart of our democracy, and my failure to act calmly resulted in this important town forum ending without the discourse intended. For that, I am truly sorry.

The University of Florida was impressed, saying “the apologies reflect a lot of thought and ownership of responsibility by Andrew for his conduct.”

If Mr. Meyer was introduced to the world as an instant political martyr, his words today are a complete capitulation. “It was my actions that forced the officers there into a position where they needed to take action,” he said in the letter to the police department.

He also tried to put to rest speculation that the whole thing was a stunt, a charge bolstered by his Web site, which contained signs of a joker.

“I really did not go to the rally with the intent of disturbing the event or getting myself arrested,” he said.

In the end, he’s avoided jail, the cops have been cleared of wrongdoing, and the leading maker of tasers has prospered.

All that’s left is a young man who says he’s learned a lesson, and a catchphrase for the ages. Or at least this year’s quick-and-dirty Halloween costume for last-minute types. You’ll need four things: hair gel for a shocking hairdo, a makeshift taser prop, a black magic marker and a white T-shirt. You know what to write on it.

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