Everyone agrees that a man’s finger was bitten off during a health care reform rally. But U.S. politics being what they are, the facts of who bit whom and who is at fault are hotly contested.
So far, mainstream media and liberal bloggers agree that a pro-reform rallyer was moving through or near a group of anti-reform rallyers to get to the pro-reform group when he was savagely attacked by an anti-reform rallyer, and that in the scuffle the pro-reform guy bit off the finger of the anti-reform guy. Chris Good at the Atlantic quotes from eyewitness accounts, one from the blog DrumsnWhistles (which is a bit slow to open, probably because it’s being slammed with hits):
The man in the orange shirt hit the pro-reform guy (I’m going to call him PR Guy just to keep the players straight). Hard. … He punched him in the face, knocked him to the ground and into that thruway. As you can see from the photo, cars drive straight through that without stopping. The pro-reform guy could have been run over. He got up, tried to get back up on the curb, but Orange Shirt guy was in his face. Finger in his face, PR Guy standing, steps up to the curb, and there’s a scuffle. Orange shirt seemed to have PR Guy in a hold, but again, I was across the street, so won’t state that as absolute fact. Next thing I see is PR Guy’s hat being tossed into the street, both yelling at one another, then Orange shirt walks away, PR Guy picks up hat and crosses to our side.
When he gets to our side, he tells a story in one sentence: “He punched me hard, straight in the face, so I bit his finger off.”
Honestly, I thought he was exaggerating. I guess he wasn’t.
This is the only photo I could find, which apparently is a shot of the anti-reform group taken from across the street by someone with the pro-reform group. The guy in the orange shirt is either the victim or the perpetrator, depending on who you believe. The pro-reform rally was sponsored by Moveon, which has issued a statement deploring violence.
Right-wing commentators are already in full-scale whiny victim mode, as if the pro-reform guy suddenly and without provocation leaped across the street and bit a finger off an innocent and peacefully protesting anti-reform guy. This from the alleged advocates of “personal responsibility.”
However, one rightie site is going with the story that it was the Moveon member who crossed the street and attacked a peaceful, minding-his-own-business anti-reform protester, and that it was the Moveon member who lost his finger. “Police reports concur that the Obama supporter moved across the street into the group of protesters,” says Politics Daily. However, the link anchored to the word “concur” went to a news story that said nothing of the sort.
Anyway, the Politics Daily headline is “Protester Bites off Finger of Obama Supporter at Health Care Rally,” which is the opposite of what the sources the article links to say happened. But some rightie bloggers are dutifully picking up the Politics Daily version of who bit whom and are complaining how everyone else is getting the facts wrong.
And have I saved a screen grab of the Politics Daily page for posterity? You betcha.
KTLA News of Los Angeles assures us the 65-year-old who lost his finger is being treated via Medicare.
I do not approve of biting people’s fingers off except in self-defense. However, I hope I live long enough to see the day when a right-winger actually takes responsibility for his own actions. I know; when pigs fly.
By tomorrow morning, if not already, there will be more separate and conflicting eyewitness reports of the incident than there were people present at the incident. However, I wanted to repeat this bit from an interview with the man who was bitten, who admits he threw the first punch. He said the PR guy (who was from Code Pink) had called him an idiot:
Although he did not plan to protest Wednesday, Rice said, heâ€™s opposed to government involvement in general, except for mail service and the military.
â€œIt doesnâ€™t have any business in anybodyâ€™s healthcare,â€ he said.
Rice acknowledged he used the Medicare he gets as a senior when he went to the hospital Wednesday. He said it was the first time he used the program, to which he remains adamantly opposed.
â€œIf I had any other options, I would not have used it, even though I pay for it,â€ he said.
And someone called him an idiot. Imagine.