Saturday, December 18, 2004

CITIZEN JOURNALISTS. Back in September, a soldier on leave from Iraq got beaten up outside a Toby Keith concert. The soldier, Foster Barton, said that he was attacked because he was wearing an Operation Iraqi Freedom t-shirt. It was reported that the assailant had slurred Barton's military service.

Though the parking lots of superpatriotic extravaganzas are not normally hunting grounds for roving gangs of John Kerry supporters, blame was laid at their doorstep. "Not anti-war," indeeded the Ole Perfesser, "just on the other side." One account was illustrated with a burning American flag, a silhouetted figure flashing the peace sign in the foreground.

Thomas Segel asked at GOP-USA, "Does This Hate Honor America?... Vietnam veterans commenting on the attack of this wounded soldier recalled the assaults, the spitting and the hate filled language they encountered upon their return from combat. Those attacks occurred at the same time John Kerry was diminishing their service before the United States Congress. It is their feeling Kerry is doing the same thing again during his presidential campaign....and with the same impact on American service personnel."

"It's more than just a local story," the serviceman's family told the press. "He is one of our soldiers fighting for America." Calls and letters of support flooded in.

Eventually the assailant was apprehended. His name is Brent Cornwell, and he is a veteran of the United States Army. Some correspondents picked this fact up; other didn't, including Mark Major, who reported for Suburban News Publications that, in response to the attack, State Representative Jon Peterson "has drafted legislation designed to punish more severely those who assault military personnel than those who attack civilians." County Prosecutor Dave Yost "went further than Peterson, suggesting the legislation contain language expressly allowing prosecutors to apply the law whether or not the suspect knew the victim was a member of the armed forces."

fuckfrance republished some of the local coverage, omitting the part about Cornwell's military service. "I would say that the offender be forced to join the Soldier's unit... for a week... on tour," one comment read. "I can only shake my head and ask again what someone so opposed to the war in Iraq was doing at a Toby Keith concert," said BitsBlog. "'Peace Activist' Arrested for Beating," announced Conservative Dialysis.

Some authors acknowledged Cornwell's service, but still tied him to their political opponents. "Just because Cornwell served for 4 years in the Army," noted a commenter to Lt. Smash's blog, "does not mean that he isn't now a 'peace activist.'"

Yesterday Cornwell pleaded guilty to a felonious assault on Barton. In his statement to the judge, Cornwell did not denounce the Bush Administration or the Iraqi invasion, or cry "Viva La Huelga." He told the judge that the fight outside the Toby Keith concert "started after the two exchanged insults about the other's military unit," according to the local news.

History, sir, will tell lies, as usual.

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