Apropos Jacob Huebert’s excellent post a few days ago on the time Before We Worshipped Presidents, our lesser rulers are getting increasingly used to their special, above-the-law status as well. Watch how Democratic Congressman Bob Etheridge responds to being peacefully asked a simple question by a well-dressed student on a public street:
Congressman Etheridge thinks he can interrogate and assault someone simply for having the temerity to ask him a question in public, apparently without fear of retaliation or legal consequences, despite being recorded. He has a right to know who the student is? I don’t think so. He’s not police. I don’t think even a police officer would have cause under positive law to demand identification and assault the student simply for video recording and asking a question in public. In any case, their authority is illegitimate and what we have here clearly is assault even under current positive law.
What’s more disturbing is that this incident is indicative of just how much our petty tyrants view themselves as being above us and the law — though I suppose assaulting one person on the street is an improvement over assaulting millions through his legislative acts; if only he and his fellow control-freaks would cease the latter, the world would be a much better place and their private crime manageable.
Update: Congressman Etheridge and the establishment news media go into damage control mode.
Update II: Glenn Greenwald of Salon.com agrees that this is “a clear case of assault and battery” and that Etheridge is “obviously inebriated with an extreme sense of entitlement.” He’s not impressed with Etheridge’s public apology after being outed online. Greenwald says in an update that he expected Democrats would try to defend Etheridge’s actions, but even he was “surprised by the extent of the eagerness to defend a clearly illegal and indefensible assault based on the political ideologies of those involved.” Follow the link to read more.
Unedited video from the first camera:
Update III: Digby reminds us of other similar incidents (with video) and points out that the state’smen and/or their security detail are never prosecuted, whereas a private citizen doing the same thing generally would be.
Cross-posted at Is-Ought GAP.