What a difference a few hours makes. I took a few spare moments in a busy day in Pennsylvania amid tasks in my nonblogging incarnation to do THIS POST about a MoveOn.Org protester whose head was stomped by an apparent Rand Paul supporter. (Also see Logan Penza’s post HERE on the subject of political violence). And now it comes out: yes, he has reportedly been identified and despite my little journalistic hedge he is a Rand Paul supporter.
What is interesting — and disturbing — are some Internet posts that went on the attack against the woman whose head was stomped. It did NOT MATTER what her political views were. It did NOT MATTER what her party was. But it is sad to see that the immediate response is to try get something on the person on “other side” in a case like this because of a need to always defend the home team.
Sometimes players on a home team cannot be defended. Players of both home teams. And, indeed, in this case on the same evening a supporter of Democrat Jack Conway reportedly stomped on the foot of a woman who had recently undergone foot surgery.
So now we have a head stomper and a foot stomper.
All in the name of political “debate”.
Perhaps this proves the old saying:
People vote with their feet…
[NEW UPDATE: The San Franciso Chronicle reports: “Lexington, Kentucky Police Public Information Officer Sherelle Roberts has confirmed that a criminal summons is being served on a Mr. Tim Profitt who has been ordered to appear before a Fayette County District Court judge for the assault on Lauren Valle”]
UPDATE: The Huffington Post says the head-stomper has apologized but put part of the blame on the police:
A volunteer with Rand Paul’s Senate campaign has admitted to placing his shoe firmly on the face of a MoveOn.org volunteer outside a Senate debate on Monday night, but insisted that the camera angle of the footage that captured the altercation made the scuffle look worse than it was.
In other words: Pish posh: it was only a light head stomp…)
Tim Profitt apologized for the incident in a statement sent to a local AP reporter. But he also criticized the police for not stepping in to calm down the crowd and argued that other supporters had previously warned authorities about the MoveOn activist, Lauren Valle.
The HP has a photo of him with his arm around Rand Paul — which doesn’t mean anything since it doesn’t mean Paul (who denounced the violence) approved of what he did.
And what happens next?
A spokesman for the Lexington Police Department said on Tuesday afternoon that “Mr. Profitt is currently being served with a criminal summons ordering him to appear before a Fayette County District Court Judge.“
(Somehow this theme song seems fitting..)
And if you’ve missed the footage, here’s a different You Tube that shows it:
A CROSS SECTION OF WEBLOG OPINION ( which will omit blogs that seemingly try to justify the violence or focus on attacking the woman since the issue is not her politics but political violence):
—Little Green Footballs:
I don’t want to believe the ugly comments at almost every right wing blog about the woman assaulted by Rand Paul supporters last night. Has the entire wingnut blogosphere turned into a pack of rabid animals?
–BUT NOTE that NOT ALL CONSERVATIVE BLOGS are defending it. Not. At. All. Read Right Wing News (a lively and outspoken conservative blog if there is one). John Hawkins:
First of all, there’s never an excuse for a man stomping on a woman’s head. Okay, maybe if she was swinging a meat cleaver at him, I could let it slide, but I don’t see a meat cleaver in the video. Do you see a meat cleaver? No.
All I see is a small woman being forced to the ground and having her head stomped. The guy who did the stomping? I hope they throw the book at him and he spends the next few years in jail thinking about what he did. There is absolutely no room in our democracy for that kind of despicable behavior. Let me also add that Laura Vale from MoveOn was in good enough shape to speak to the press after being attacked, but she has checked into the hospital. I really hope she’s okay.
All that being said, I applaud Rand Paul’s campaign for immediately issuing a statement condemning that horrific behavior…
Now we know why Rand Paul spent the past twelve or so hours blaming the vicious assault of Lauren Valle by his supporters on “both sides” and a “daze of lights flashing” — because one of the assailants is Tim Profitt, the Bourbon County coordinator for Paul’s campaign.
“What happened last night was that about five minutes before Rand Paul’s car arrived they identified me and my partner, Alex, who was with me,” Valle said this afternoon. “They surrounded me. There was five of them. They motioned to each other and got behind me. My partner Alex heard them say ‘We are here to do crowd control we might have to take someone out.'”
She added that the video we’ve all seen doesn’t show the fact that she tried to get away from her attackers.
As for how Valle was able to talk to the media after the incident, without showing signs of injury, she explained that she felt the full brunt of the pain as it hit her later. “I was in severe shock,” she said, adding that the pain in her head started in earnest “an hour and a half afterwards.”
As for Paul, who tried to blame “crowd control” and “both sides” this morning on Fox News, the extremist ophthalmologist issued another statement this afternoon, explaining that the campaign “condemns the actions” of its supporter. Why it took so long for Paul’s team to say this is unclear.
—Doug Mataconis notes here that there was also another incident: of a Conway supporter stepping on the foot of a woman who had foot surgery.
No arrests were made in either incident, although it’s conceivable that charges could be filed in the future.
Many on the left have tried to make something of this incident since last night. Obviously, though, what we’re dealing with are two jerks who acted rudely and possibly criminally. Can we please not turn everything into a political cause?
Update: Lexington police have apparently identified Tim Proffit as the assailant. He was a (now former) County-level coordinator for the campaign and has apparently issued an apology for the incident. Criminal charges are pending, and this matter will be resolved in the court system where it belongs.
—The Atlantic’s Joshua Green who thinks Paul could have turned lemon into political lemonaid:
Not looking good for Tim Profitt, the Rand Paul volunteer who brutally stomped on the head of a young woman outside the debate last night. Bad timing, too, given that Profitt endorsed Paul in a full-page ad in today’s Lexington Herald-Leader (h/t @bensmith). Paul has “distanced himself” from Profitt, and police put out a statement saying they’re looking for the two other people who held the woman down. One point I haven’t seen made: as unfortunate as it was, the episode strikes me as a missed opportunity for Paul, on both a political and a human-decency level. The guy is a doctor! Why didn’t he help the woman? Maybe he just didn’t see what happened or got rushed out of the way by aides. But if he’d rushed to help her, the race would be over, wouldn’t it?
When a Rand Paul supporter stomped on the head and shoulders of a MoveOn.org protester at a campaign stop in Kentucky, the ugly incident provided an instant and crystalline snapshot into the growing culture of violence that is seething in the darker precincts of the American right-wing.
Yet the act of violence itself – the young woman suffered a concussion and local police are properly preparing felony chargest against the Tea Party thug responsible – seems like a lowercase footnote to the circus of politics in comparison to the wider reaction of conservatives. ‘I say she got what she was asking for’ said a commenter on …[one] blog. And that voice was not the exception. It’s too easy to cherry-pick insanity from comments sections, but when you can use a squeegee to sop ’em up, well son, that’s what we call “a pattern.”
At the same time, at the same rally, a Democrat supporting Jack Conway viciously stomped on the foot of a Rand Paul supporter who had recently gone through foot surgery, tearing open the incision.
The simple fact is that supporters on both sides acted like animals outside this debate, and it is disgusting to watch the media and leftist blogosphere provide such one-side coverage.
Too bad she isn’t a millionaire Fox news pundit — the Republicans would all be rushing to her defense.
Those men should be charged with assault. But from what I gathered in the report, the only person the police were interested in was the victim. (That may not be the whole story, however.)
Look for Breitbart and the boyz to say she “provoked” the crowd by being there and got what she deserved.
As I have documented dozens of times before, the left-blogosphere has concocted allegations against Tea Party members for much of the past year in an effort to paint opponents of Democrats as extremist and violent. Really for the first time, they have an incident they can blow out of proportion for political purposes.
Unfortunately, people being pushed to the ground while approaching a candidate is not new. Just ask John McCormack who was thrown to the ground by a Martha Coakley campaign staffer last January when McCormack would not stop asking questions.
Indeed, the mainstream media has refused even to report about how Congressman Maurice Hinchey recently assaulted a reporter who was asking questions about Hinchey’s possible conflicts of interest.
There is tension in the air. People need to step back, on both sides, and not try to take an isolated incident to create a greater political pretext.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.