This video is remarkable and disturbing.
Rep. Bob Etheridge, (D-N.C.) was walking down a Washington street when he was approached by a student holding a cell phone camera. The young man asked the Congressman about his views on President Obama’s agenda. Etheridge angrily demanded to know who the student was, tried to snatch the phone, and then assaulted and battered him.
Members of the House of Representatives work for all citizens of the United States, and are obligated to treat them with deference and respect. Obviously, they must not physically abuse them. Etheridge’s conduct is shocking, particularly since he was on camera. Does he not know that it is unacceptable, not to mention illegal, for anyone to manhandle a citizen on the street like this, especially a student, and a much smaller student at that? Did he think his constituents would cheer on such undignified and offensive conduct by a representative of their state, the Democratic Party and the U.S. Congress?
Here are just some of the ethical violations shown in this videotape:
- Etheridge broke the law.
- He was rude and uncivil, without any provocation, to an individual who treated him respectfully.
- He was disrespectful to one of his employers, a citizen of the United States.
- He breached his duty to represent his office and his country with dignity and honor.
- He resorted to violence rather than civilized discourse.
- He breached his duty to behave as role model for the democratic process, as all elected leaders must.
- He embarrassed every voter who has ever voted for him, his district, his state, the Congress, the nation, and his family.
No apology can possibly make up for such arrogant and outrageous behavior. No individual possessing the minimum level of decency, common sense and respect for his office could act like this. He should be censored by the House, and he should be forced to resign. Meanwhile, the student should bring charges against him for assault and battery.
In my ethical priorities, Etheridge is worse than Joe “You lie!” Wilson, worse than corrupt representatives like Charlie Rangel, worse than hypocrites like Indiana Republican Mark Souter. All of these are unethical, and don’t belong in the House. Etheridge, however, demonstrates in the video a contempt for civic discourse and the authoritarian attitude that supports dictatorships. This is what this does to perceived critics with his bare hands; imagine what he would do with an army at his command.
Update: Once this hit the news and the web, Etheridge had no choice but to apologize, and he now has. He still owes everyone an explanation, or we are free to assume the obvious: he is an intolerant, arrogant bully who resorts to physical violence against those weaker than himself without provocation.