Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sweet and Sour Tiffany: Don't Tase Me Bro

Sweet Sour The Pittsburgh Pirate's home opener was this past Thursday, and already we have an example of why I hate the behavior at public professional sporting events.  On Saturday, a fan had a run in with a police officer, his billy club, and his taser after being belligerent and what looked like an assault of a PNC Park employee.  I say "what looked like" because part of the action was caught on video, and quickly uploaded to youtube.  If you have not seen the video, I will warn you, it is not pretty, at least not in my opinion, but watching it will make my Sweet and Sour assessment a lot more sensible.

The Sweet
I personally love baseball.  I think there is nothing better than going to a game, getting some cotton candy, doing the wave, and praying the Pirate Parrot will pose for a photo with me.  The Pierogi Race turns me into a big kid.  And while tickets to baseball games are way more reasonable than football or hockey games, at least in the 'burgh, I absolutely hate when fans near me are obnoxious.  Last September, we sat in front of a bunch of hoodlums with vuvuzelas, and it almost ruined the night for me.  So, I totally understand PNC Park's policies when dealing with rude and obnoxious fans.

Spectators from the game in question are saying the fan at the center of the controversy was extremely intoxicated, rude, using foul language, and eventually he was asked to leave.  This is where the video starts.  While being heckled by the frat boys around him, the fan then shoves a PNC employee, and refuses to cooperate with police.  Clearly something needed to be done.  PNC is intended to be a family park, and obviously this behavior cannot go on.

The Sour
Having said all of the above, just watching the video is a little brutal.  It does not tell the whole story, all we see is a fan being beaten with a billy club, tasered, and arrested.  All while some woman shouts STOP in the background, amid the frat boy chants of USA (because the fan in question was wearing a USA jacket).  Many people are asking if this was excessive force.  The fan gets cracked on the noggin a couple of times before being taken down.  It is actually kind of scary.

The thing that angers me most of all is the fact that this was video taped, to float along the internet for people to mock, and ridicule.  I think it is a shame that this was uploaded.  It makes the fan look bad, it makes the cops look bad, and it makes Pittsburgh bad.  This is not who we are as a city.  But people will heatedly pick sides, saying who was to blame with absolute certainty.  Don't believe me?  Read the youtube comments.  We as a city are a laughingstock over this.  Need more proof?  Google the phrase "PNC fan tasered".

At the end of the day, we will never ever know the full story here.  We will not know what the fan's behavior was leading up to the tasering.  We will not know what exactly was said between the fan and the cop.  And we will not know the motivation of the videographer who loaded it in youtube.  I find the whole thing sad.  Sad that a fan acted this way, sad that it was handled this way, sad that the frat boys egged him on, sad that alcohol was most likely at the root of this.  I am sure there were kids in the stands near this unfolding drama.  What did they think, how did the adults explain this to them.  I am sure in a week or so, some celebrity will do something stupid, and this will be forgotten, but in the mean time, I am saddest of all that the reputation of our city is now slightly more tarnished.

So that being said, if the Sweet and Sour didn't completely fill you up, move along to the fortune cookie.