Ethics Dunce: North Carolina Rep. Bob Etheridge

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.

13 thoughts on “Ethics Dunce: North Carolina Rep. Bob Etheridge

  1. I find accosting someone with a camera randomly to be kind of uncool, but certainly not unethical. (and you’d figure he’d be used to it by now, being a public figure). Maybe I read too much entertainment news and hear about the paparazzi (a species of man for whom I have absolutely no pity).

  2. Ambush interviews are uncool, and arguably unfair, but no rep would dare pull this on Katie Couric. A Congressman has a duty to suffer the inquiries of the press and citizens, period. He did not say “no comment” or “I’m sorry, I’m in a rush,” or any other reasonable method of avoiding the encounter. He got in the kids face and manhandled him. The student’s conduct was certainly not egregious, but even if it had been, he can’t justify this.

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  5. Despite Etheridge’s apology, I expect the student will still be denounced in certain circles as a “punk” who “deserved it” for “harassing” a public figure.

    I’m not sure this incident should be dropped just because of the apology. Etheridge had complete physical domination, and he meant to intimidate. He’d done so well enough even before pulling the student in by the neck.

    • No one who actually watches the video could say that. Etheridge’s apology is nothing; he had had no choice. If a Congressman has nothing in his conscience that tells him that such conduct is wrong before he does it, then he is unqualified to serve. Imagine the uproar if the student had been a woman, or black—and yet the assault would have been no more or less outrageous. Is assaulting a kid really more forgivable than calling him a bizarre name with dubious racial implications, like “macaca” ? The latter got George Allen defeated for the Senate, and, along with everything else, rightly so. What Etheridge did is a crime, more hateful, and unequivocal.

  6. Thanks for calling attention to this. Curiously, when I google Bob Etheridge, I find only two news stories (Fox and in the first page of results. And, politicsdaily.come seems to dismiss the incident as normal for southern politicians.

    This is absolutely unacceptable behavior for an elected official…or anyone above the level of schoolyard bully.

    • Conservative talk radio is predicting that the story will be buried by the MSM, which I thought was unfair—but maybe not. This isn’t “normal” for any politician, or any respectable professional, for that matter. I’m still hoping the media is unbiased about this. If it ignore something so blatant, or minimizes it, I don’t see how anyone will be able to argue for the media’s objectivity with a straight face. This isn’t a partisan issue.

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  8. Personally, I think it demonstrates the anxiety level among leftist politicians as the election draws near. They rarely even hold an open forum townhall meeting anymore, due to constituents’ antipathy. They’re really worried about their seats and future careers due to their votes on some key bills. That’s been demonstrated before in small ways before the camera. This latest incident, however, is even more indicative.

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  10. Pingback: Congressman Bob Etheridge (D-NC) batters questioner, Dems defend the attacker, mainstream media do their job « Ethics Bob

  11. Pingback: What Gawker Calls Unethical: Poor Ex-Rep. Etheridge Was “Tricked” Into Assault « Ethics Alarms

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