Yes he was….but so were the students participating in a “project”.
By now you have probably seen this video that’s gone viral:
It’s on many of our local news outlets, including the BEST local paper this side of the Mississippi River (ok, that might be stretching it), the Garner Citizen. I’ve seen Tweets about it, Facebook posts, etc. and many of them are taking shots at Etheridge. But, what about the students involved? Don’t they get any backlash? They should!
I am NOT saying that Congressman Etheridge is innocent. As believeable (or unbelieveable) as it is, even he admits he was in the wrong. However, in my very humble opinion, it’s not just Etheridge that was in the wrong here. Those students were too (as far as we know anyway).
Here’s the thing about video – you never know the whole story.
Here’s the way I saw it.
There were two (or more?) students on an assignment (they did say they were “here for a project”). They whipped out their flip camera, began recording, and then automatically assumed whomever (Congressman or not) they were going to videotape would just automatically agree to the recording without even identifying who they were.
Now, I could be wrong here but unless a person is wearing a media badge of some sort, that person cannot expect to get cooperation for “a project”…OR maybe, just maybe that was their project – to find out how many people they can get to go on camera without identifying themselves first?
See my point?
I get that the students were participating in a “project” but I’m sorry, that’s just not the way to go about getting the cooperation needed to complete an assignment. And if I were their teacher, I’d so be deducting points for unprofessional-like conduct. I’d like to believe that the teacher provided a rubric beforehand that indicated that professionalism (on their part) counted…but perhaps I’m wrong their too?
And heck – we don’t even know if they are actually students with a project. Perhaps they are just two college kids doing their own experiment. Umm…unless the experiment was as I indicated earlier above, I would have to say – experiment failed.
A blanket “Who are you?” isn’t going to get you anywhere.
As for Mr. Etheridge, he most definitely should have been professional about his role in this as well. A blanket “Who are you?” isn’t going to get you anywhere. Try – “I’d be happy to answer your question if you will kindly tell me who you are and what this is for?” Then, even if they were lying, he still could have formulated a well-thought out (i.e. politically correct) answer. Had they not satisfied his inquiry with an appropriate answer, he should have then said, “I’m sorry I am not willing to participate. I bid you good day,” turned around, and walked away to go on about his business. THAT would have been the professional thing to do.
Both parties are in the wrong here. This is not a political issue for me. It’s an ethical one. I bet those kids would’ve gotten a completely different answer (or at least a much more professional one) had they just identified themselves from the get-go.
For all the bashing to be one-sided against Etheridge and his actions is just wrong. They deserve equal ridicule. I don’t care who Bob Etheridge is. BOTH parties deserve their comeuppance. Bottom line.
UPDATE: Raleigh’s News and Observer posted the two unedited versions of the video with different angles here: http://projects.newsobserver.com/under_the_dome/etheridge_video_without_edits. (Updated 6/14/2010 @ 3:58pm)