The past week has seen a lot of press over a video and its related commentary.

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne visited the state Capitol recently, and was in the process of being interviewed by a reporter from Spanish-language media. As he strode up to begin the interview, a group of protestors surrounded him and chanted a variety of things.

He finally abandoned the attempt to conduct the interview and returned to his car, followed the entire way by the crowd.

Attorney General Horne subsequently sent a press release calling the protestors a “thuggish mob.” Their behavior, the release suggested, was par for the course for ethnic studies supporters. (I have included the entire press release below.)

That led to some harsh words in the Arizona Republic (in both an editorial and a blog post), as well as a response by AG Horne.

Watch the video and tell me what you think. Did the protestors exhibit “thuggish behavior,” or acceptable First Amendment speech? Were their actions over the top, or was it par for the course for modern political protests?

(For fairness sake, I link you not to the video that the AG’s Office sent out in its press release, because that video included captions and commentary that were added by his supporters. Instead, I link to the identical video without the commentary. However, feel free to watch the other video; its link is at the end of the press release below.)

Now, let me know what you think.

(I have to add one bit of sympathy for Attorney General Horne. At about 3:40 in the video, as he is trailed by a throng of vocal non-supporters, he appears to have forgotten where he parked. He strolls through the Capitol lot, protestors serpentining behind him, and finally locates his wheels. Having wandered lots myself looking for a car I’ve lost, I can say, “I’ve been there.”)

Here is the March 17 press release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Contact:  Amy Rezzonico (602) 542-8019

www.AZAG.gov | Facebook | Twitter

RAZA STUDIES SUPPORTERS, IN A THUGGISH MOB, TRIED TO SHOUT DOWN ATTORNEY GENERAL HORNE

PHOENIX (Thursday March 17, 2011) — Attorney General Tom Horne today released a video of a screaming mob of Raza Studies supporters who interfered with the Attorney General’s efforts to accommodate a request to be interviewed by a television news crew.    

In the video below, viewers can see a thuggish mob of Raza Studies supporters trying to shout down Horne, to attempt to prevent an interview with Univision Television.

Horne was in the process of leaving the Capitol after a meeting, when a reporter from Univision Televsion asked him to return to where his cameraman was, so he could do an interview in Spanish, as frequently does for Spanish-language media.  A thuggish mob of Raza Studies reporters surrounded them and tried to prevent the interview, screaming at the top of their lungs.  When the interview was over, Horne walked to his car, still surrounded by the mob, screaming vulgar epithets. 

Horne said, “The Raza Studies program teaches irrational mob behavior as a matter of habit.  For example, they did a street play called ‘the killing of Tom Horne’ which was filmed by channels 4 and 9 in Tucson, and broadcast.”

For a YouTube video (not produced by this office) of Attorney General’s Horne encounter this week go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nu3UW_Cw1-8.

According to “TrustandVerify,” an AK-47 like this can be bought via the Arizona Republic classifieds

Much of the Internet traffic following up on the Tucson shooting has dwelled on what could have been done to treat Jared Loughner’s apparent mental illness.

Well, first of all, let’s wait for an assessment by mental health professionals. Granted, he walks like a duck, and smirks like a duck—but I’m no clinician.

And second, the idea that “any one of us” could have picked up the phone, called a state agency, and “gotten this guy off the streets” is laughable. Yes, Arizona’s commitment statute is different from that of other states and does permit any person to make such a call.

But who will answer? We have watched as our state services, including mental health, have been decimated. Is there anyone in fantasyland who thinks state health professionals are standing by, with empty caseloads, awaiting your (likely uninformed) call?

If so, you may want to turn yourself in.

And on the mental health question, Linda Valdez at the Arizona Republic wrote the other day on the shooting. She mused on whether early intervention by medical professionals could have prevented Loughner’s actions.

I try not to read the comments that follow news stories—they’re too depressing. But one post did catch my eye. That could be because it included an arresting image (above). But it also could be due to the fact that it examined the Republic’s own practices that may contribute to a more violent society.

I will let “TrustandVerify” speak for himself:

“There are currently more than 20 guns for sale by private parties in your newspaper. As I understand it, none of these purchases would require a background check. Some of them are sport guns for hunting birds or other animals that can be eaten.”

“[But] some of them are extremely bad news, such as the AK47 Shorty Pistol I have pictured below. Crazy people buy guns like this from private parties without a background check. And your newspaper is facilitating the exchanges for profit.”

No responding post from Linda Valdez or the Republic yet. Maybe I should call a state agency to raise the issue. I’m sure they’re awaiting my call.