Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Extreme skepticism

Yesterday a man named Tim Profitt forcefully pressed his foot down on the back, shoulder, or neck of a woman named Lauren Valle, who was already restrained, face-down, by another man.  Here's the video.

Ms. Valle is a MoveOn.org volunteer who was dressed up in Rand Paul gear and a blonde wig outside the venue for a debate between Rand Paul and his opponent, Jack Conway.  Apparently, she intended to confront Paul and present him with an "award" for being friendly to corporations.  When she attempted to do so, the events depicted in the video transpired.

Mr. Profitt was a volunteer with the Rand campaign, but the campaign has now "disassociated itself" with him.  He faces fourth-degree assault charges.  He claims we was just trying to defend Mr. Paul from an unknown assailant.

Jack Conway condemned the men involved in the incident in a strangely macho way:  "physical violence by a man against a woman must never be tolerated."  (Man-on-man violence is apparently tolerable, at least in some circumstances.  And woman-on-woman violence?  That's just hot.  Rrrr-owww!)

Mr. Profitt did not come forward as the "stomper" until late in the day today.  Before he came forward, Ann Alhouse speculated that the entire incident might have been staged:
Are the men in the T-shirts also from Moveon.org? Who were they? There were no arrests and though there was a crowd, no one bothered to have detained these men. Did they just melt back into the night? It's very convenient that these bad actors were wearing labels identifying them.
Hundreds of comments ensued.  Most of them bought into the conspiracy theory that the entire incident was staged.  My own interpretation of the video--and this was before Mr. Proffitt came forward--made me think that this was extremely unlikely.  The men who subdued Ms. Valle did not appear to be acting to me.  Mr. Proffitt's attack seemed so believably impulsive.  And the reaction of the others around--e.g., "no no no no no no no!" when Mr. Proffitt did his thing--seemed authentic.

Moreover, there were easy answers to all of Althouse's questions.  There were no arrests because there was a crowd.  Yes, the men melted back into the night--or at least melted back into the embrace of their compatriots.  And it's not convenient that the men were wearing Rand Paul insignia; it's exactly what you would expect political activists to be wearing at a debate.  

That so many of Althouse's commenters bought into the conspiracy theory is depressing to me.  It's one thing to be skeptical.  I am an avowed skeptic.  But in order to a functioning skeptic you have to be skeptical of your own skepticism.  You have to ask yourself, "Why am I inclined to distrust my own eyes?" If you don't cross-examine yourself with your own biases, you'll become either a cynic or an ideologue.  That's not good.

But this is the depressing part.  It's hard to find evidence of anyone on the Internet who isn't either an ideologue or a cynic.


More video!

This shows that Ms. Valle rushed Rand Paul's car and tried to shove something at him through his open window. She is pulled away. Then, at about the :55 second mark, she comes around from behind the car to make a second run at the candidate. Presumably this is when she was tackled and treated roughly.


  1. Ann Althouse is a fucking cunt and her commenters are raging winger fuckstains.

  2. Thank goodness the commenters here are so thoughtful and restrained!


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