Bob Owens really took the best headline for the story about a MoveOn protester biting off a finger from an ObamaCare opponent, with Yes We Cannibal. The best I can do is relate this to another notorious public maiming, but in that case, the fight itself was perfectly legal. In this case, it may come down to who started the violence:
California authorities say a clash between opponents and supporters of health care reform ended with one man biting off another man’s finger.
Ventura County Sheriff’s Capt. Frank O’Hanlon says about 100 people demonstrating in favor of health care reforms rallied Wednesday night on a street corner. One protester walked across the street to confront about 25 counter-demonstrators.
O’Hanlon says the man got into an argument and fist fight, during which he bit off the left pinky of a 65-year-old man who opposed health care reform.
If the victim in this case initiated the violence, he could be guilty of battery, a misdemeanor. However, biting off a finger is almost certainly assault with the intent to commit mayhem, a term used for deliberate disfigurement or amputation in California, and a felony. One of the most infamous rape cases in recent years involved a man who raped a young woman and chopped off her arms, but the victim managed to survive. “Mayhem” was the only charge at the time the state could apply besides the rape, and he only got 13 years for the crime.
ABC News confirmed this as I was writing it:
The Ventura County Sheriff’s Department does not have a suspect at this time and does not know whether or not the suspect was a member of MoveOn.org.
“It’s considered a mayhem which is the removal of an appendage from a human,” said Norris of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department. “The crime is punishable by imprisonment for 2, 4, or 8 years.”
Whether or not the perp belonged to MoveOn is really immaterial. As conservatives, we believe in individual responsibility, not group guilt. Nevertheless, this does demonstrate — again — that most of the violence in these protests have come not from Tea Party activists or gun-carrying protesters, but from the counterprotesters from unions and left-wing groups.
Why might that be? Other than desperation at losing the argument, I just can’t put my finger on it.