"A fight kind of unfolded. . . . The Senator was rushed to the back. He [Allen] is okay," local NBC reporter Henry Graff said as the tape of the assault on Stark played in the background.
Of course, the progressive blogosphere understands that Mike Stark was assaulted because he was trying to assert a very basic First Amendment right to question his government. But from the initial NBC affiliate report, through the early print media accounts, the story seemed subtly spun as "Allen saved from rabid blogger."
I can live with that, I suppose. I've come to expect it from almost all MSM news reporting. But where I draw the line is when the police agencies designed to protect the citizenry seem to mimic the "attack the victim" mentality of the media.
"We will find out who the people are, give him the information and he can go to the magistrate and try to obtain a warrant for them," Charlottesville Police Lt. Gary Pleasants told the Post.
Taken from the Raw Story account via the Washington Post.
Since when do police officers respond to assault victims by saying, "Yeah, we'll get the name of the guys who did it, and then you can try to prosecute this situation if you want."
Is that what they tell victims of Domestic Violence in Virginia? Is it what they tell old women who are mugged?
There is evidence that a crime was committed. An unwanted battery. Perhaps there is a defense. Perhaps Stark did something more than ask a question of his Senator to invoke the attack. Perhaps the attackers had some legal authority to use force as they did. But the evidence in the public record says that there is probable cause that a battery was committed. A battery that may have been committed by the agents of a Senator. A Senator with a history of insensitivity and apparent favor for questionable uses of force. Such evidence ought to be met by the authorities with something more than, "Yeah, you handle it yourself." There ought to be a full investigation. Reports ought to be forwarded to a prosecutor. And a charge should be authorized or not. If the police and prosecuting officials are incapable of setting politics aside to conduct the necessary investigation, and to make the necessary determinations, then the case should be assigned to a non-interested agency with no such conflict. But an important right is at stake. And it shouldn't be laughed off by a half-assed investigation.
Fringe elements on the far right and the far left sometimes speculate about a politically fueled civil war. Taking it to the streets. Getting the guns out. The failure to seriously investigate this battery encourages that reality. Because if this incident ends with a "no harm, no foul" verdict, then the next time one of us is out exercising our legitimate rights to question our officials, and some wing-nut cadre decides they want to manhandle us, some of us are going to have to seriously think about defending ourselves. Stark showed admirable restraint today. But if assaults are the new norm, then reasonable defense is the new solution.
So we ought to encourage Virginia's finest to do their job. If you are not too busy with your GOTV efforts, perhaps you'll give the Charlottesville Police Chief a call tomorrow. He encourages us to call for quality of service issues. (434) 970-3289.
Here's to Stark. And a more perfect union.