Who stomped on Lauren Valle’s head at the Rand Paul – Jack Conway debate in Kentucky last night? I don’t know that yet. I also don’t know who held her down. (Update: His name is allegedly Mike Pezzano.) But I can say with complete authority that the attackers’ actions were plain wrong. Lauren Valle is a veteran, possibly paid, activist. She appears to have worked with Greenpeace and MoveOn.org. She allegedly stormed the debate last night in an attempt to embarrass Rand Paul. That’s legitimate political protest. Even if the attackers thought she posed a deadly threat to Paul, they used excessive force.
Was her act aggressive and therefore deserving of retaliatory force in the minds of right libertarian minarchists? Not from what I could tell. The event was open to the public. There are no allegations of violence on Valle’s part. What if she did commit some kind of aggressive violence? Then it would be valid to stop her, but only with the amount of force required to do just that. These men used excessive force. Thus, even by a Randian calculus, the attackers are in the wrong.
Is this a set up? Was it staged? Maybe. The force is very brutal and obvious. In these analogous situations, Tea Partiers did not respond with violence, or at least not as much violence. The attackers demonstrated surprising coordination. That implies planning or previous association. Valle appears to smirk in her post-stomp interview. It’s hard to believe someone could be that calm after a head-stomping. TPM notes “At the end of the clip, Valle is alert and speaking with the press. However, MoveOn’s political director Ilyse Hogue tells TPM that Valle is in the hospital and they’re awaiting word on her condition.” Either they hurt her so badly that she was in a daze when she gave the post-attack interview or something is fishy here.
I hope those on the right don’t feel the need to issue apologias. Yet here’s one that calls Valle a leftist and “unhinged.” Hot Air and Red State are silent so far. One right libertarian friend on Facebook claimed the attackers were justified in defending Paul from Valle but admitted that they used excessive force. Whether this is staged or not, it was wrong and the principled right would be wise to condemn it. At most, the Paul supporters could have stopped Valle. That’s the extent of legitimate defensive action. Their smartest course of action was to let Paul’s security detail handle it.
Some on the left want to incriminate Rand Paul with this incident. That’s also wrong. One commenter named Stephen said, “If people in Kentucky were honest and thoughtful people they would see what type of coward is backing the Paul creep.” I would hazard a guess that all candidates are backed by one coward or another. It’s logically fallacious to say that just because a certain person is associated with Paul, that Paul is therefore morally lacking as well.
Should the attackers go to jail? No, they should make restitution for their crime. Going to jail accomplishes nothing. It doesn’t benefit the victim. It simply reinforces the violent paradigm that in part leads to incidents like these. Valle should be made whole in whatever form she and the attackers can mutually agree upon. If the attackers can’t reach a reasonable settlement, they should be banned from civilized society. Free market justice is superior because it’s victim-oriented and doesn’t require the cruel and unusual punishment that is prison.
Here’s an idea. Start a fundraiser on The Point to reward whoever brings the attackers to justice. Like the Krugman-Murphy debate, people can pledge reward money and will only be charged if someone actually brings forward information that leads to holding these guys accountable.
Irony strikes again. One of the attackers wore a “Don’t Tread on Me” pin. Yet he was more than happy to collaborate in the treading upon of a fellow human being. This is a poignant example of the inherent philosophical contradictions of Tea Partiers and right libertarians. They advocate against government because it’s violent or because the other party is in control. But they often turn around and support other kinds of violence or even government violence when their candidates are in power. For more on this, see my article about how the Tea Party could bring fascism to America.
Sadly I expect we will witness more red team vs blue team violence in the coming years. Or, as some call it, slave on slave violence. Who is served by altercations like this? What does it distract from? Our lives, liberties and properties are being dismantled by the state without reference to political affiliation while we are busy fighting over which dictator to put into office. What a crying shame.
Here is some more video of the attack from other perspectives. EDIT: Oops, that first one got deleted! It was the best one, too.