The Other McCain

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Man in Kentucky Head-Stomping Incident Identified as Paul Supporter Mike Pezzano UPDATE: Activist Was Charged in Greenpeace Vandalism UPDATE: Rand Paul Describes ‘Crowd Control Problem’ at Event (Video)

Posted on | October 26, 2010 | 33 Comments

My Kentucky conservative friend Lisa Graas reports she got an e-mail from a Tea Party activist identifying the man, and offers photographic proof. Please note that Pezzano is allegedly the man in the plaid shirt who wrestled MoveOn activist Lauren Valle to the ground, not the guy who stomped her.

Meanwhile, quite predictably, I find myself accused by the Left of being pro-head-stomping or, to borrow a phrase coined by my Twitter friend Ken Gardner, I’m guilty of “headstomperism.”

My initial reaction to this Political Theater of the Absurd incident in Lexington was to make a joke. I joke about everything. Ask anyone. Joking is a lifelong habit with me. I joke about cancer. That doesn’t make me pro-cancer.

UPDATE: Eric Boehlert of Media Matters:

A very clever guilt-by-association tactic, you see? In point of fact, Andrew Breitbart immediately condemned the Kentucky head-stomping via Twitter and yet Boehlert, with this insinuation that Breitbart “must be so proud,” tries to implicate Breitbart with words and deeds he neither authorized nor endorsed.

UPDATE II: Wow. The plot of this story just got infinitely more complicated. activist Lauren Valle is accused of criminal trespassing in Louisiana:

Sheriff Craig Webre and Harbor Police Chief John Callais announced the arrest of seven Greenpeace activists in Port Fourchon. A complaint came in at approximately 12:45 PM stating the seven had boarded a vessel at Port Fourchon and painted messages with an unknown substance on different areas of the ship. The messages were directed to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. A representative for Salazar was at Port Fourchon this morning while other dignitaries congregated in Galliano with Secretary Salazar and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano regarding the ongoing oil spill impacting the Louisiana coastline. . . .
The seven had been seen in the area for the past week and had been repeatedly warned by law enforcement not to hamper clean up operations and not to trespass. Greenpeace is known for pre-planning and coordinating similar protests to bring attention to environmental issues. Pictures of the vandalism appeared on the Greenpeace website within minutes of the arrest of the activists.

Via Gateway Pundit and Alabama Right News.

UPDATE III: Lisa Graas: “Unconfirmed report that KSP have apprehended the assailants.” Good. Then we can expect to have a complete official account of the incident.

Given the nature of the May vandalism in Louisiana — which seems to have aroused security concerns for two Cabinet secretaries — Valle’s actions in Kentucky take on a completely different cast. Environmentalists have been known to commit acts of violence and, in the mob scene outside the Lexington debate, some of Paul’s supporters might have feared that this wild-eyed person shoving her way through the crowd was trying to do some kind of weird Squeaky Fromme thing.

UPDATE IV: Rand Paul describes the mob scene in Lexington:

“I will tell you that when we arrived, there was enormous passion on both sides . . . people yelling and screaming . . . It was a bit of a crowd control problem.”

Look, as a reporter who’s been out on the campaign trail — in 2008, I sat just a few feet from Hillary Clinton at a press conference and actually talked to Chelsea in West Virginia — I have enormous sympathy for the kind of “crowd control” issues surrounding these events.

When I was covering the big rally in Searchlight, Nevada, I remember Sarah Palin being hustled through a phalanx of security without time to say “hello” or shake hands with her supporters. Even with a press pass dangling around my neck on a lanyard, I was careful not to make any move that Palin’s security might interpret as potentially threatening.

Now imagine if some crazy woman at Searchlight had come shoving through the crowd wearing a blonde wig and carrying a sign mocking Palin.

You see what I’m talking about? I’m not advocating, endorsing or defending the stomping of heads. I’m just saying that this mob scene in Lexington was exactly the sort of situation where these kinds of incidents happen. It’s unfortunate and wrong, but it is ridiculously misleading to politicize this incident as if it were somehow typical of those “crazy right-wingers,” which is what Boehlert, et al., are attempting to do.

UPDATE V: Let me remind you of the American Spectator column I filed about the Searchlight rally in March:

With few exceptions, what brought reporters to Saturday’s rally was the opportunity to do what they have been doing in their Tea Party coverage for more than a year: Highlight negative “gotcha” moments to discredit the movement as a dangerous collection of hate-filled, misinformed lunatics, meanwhile asking attendees questions along the lines of, “Who do you consider to be the leader of your movement?”
In that sense, Saturday was a two-for-one press-corps special, providing the media a chance to play “gotcha” with Palin, the GOP’s 2008 vice-presidential candidate who is widely presumed by reporters to be a Tea Party leader, if not in fact the leader. Palin did not disappoint either fans or detractors at Searchlight, using her speech to assail the media for promoting Democratic claims that the movement is . . . well, a dangerous collection of hate-filled, misinformed lunatics.
“We’re not inciting violence,” Palin proclaimed from the windswept stage that organizers had erected on the back of a flatbed truck. “Don’t get sucked into the lame-stream media lies.”

If you don’t want to be stereotyped, don’t act like a stereotype. Being aware that Democrats wish to depict Tea Party activists as violent yahoos, it is therefore incumbent on Tea Party activists to strive to avoid behaving like violent yahoos. Ed Morrissey at Hot Air:

Absolutely indefensible. Regardless of the woman’s intent, she has as much right to be in that public venue as Paul’s supporters. They have no right to assault her just because she’s holding a ridiculous MoveOn sign or even approaching the candidate. . . .
Paul has his own security with him, as the video seems to show, and they knew better than to react to an obvious provocation, and especially not to overreact to it.

Permit me a mild protest at an attempt to view this incident through the lens of “rights.” (George Donnelly takes it from a Randian perspective.) It is absolutely correct to say that the people who accosted Valle should (and by the time of my next update, almost certainly will) be facing criminal charges. So there is no question as to the legal rights involved here.

Yet human nature often causes otherwise sane and peaceful people to react in fight-or-flight mode to perceived threats. Once that adrenaline rush hits the neural system, autonomic reflexes take hold and people do things in the heat of the moment that they would not attempt to justify, except as an unthinking reflex.

We may expect when this case is processed through the legal system, the Paul supporters will offer just such a defense: Acknowledging the wrongness of their violence, yet pointing to the extenuating circumstance that they were reacting to a sudden provocation — a provocation which, unlike their own reactions, was premeditated.

UPDATE VI: Rand Paul issues new statement condemning violence and warning of deer hazards for gonzo reporters.

(Maybe I misquoted that last part.)


33 Responses to “Man in Kentucky Head-Stomping Incident Identified as Paul Supporter Mike Pezzano UPDATE: Activist Was Charged in Greenpeace Vandalism UPDATE: Rand Paul Describes ‘Crowd Control Problem’ at Event (Video)”

  1. mike
    October 26th, 2010 @ 11:52 am

    Your “Kentucky conservative friend” sure seems to want Paul to lose…

  2. Hart Wms
    October 26th, 2010 @ 11:58 am

    Wow. That’s some of the most tortuous logick (sic) ever. You might want to have your water supply tested.

  3. Lance
    October 28th, 2010 @ 3:07 am

    Sounds a lot like the previous President’s term. Pretty soon we’ll all be taking cues from the crips and bloods,

  4. Revoleetinam67
    October 28th, 2010 @ 6:34 pm

    No matter what she was yelling, there was no reason for people to push her down and stomp on her.