‘First Amendment auditor’ gets shot

You may recall my post from a couple of weeks ago about people who deliberately use their First Amendment rights to taunt and provoke police officers in the hope that they will react against them, giving them fodder for their YouTube audiences. They claim that they are protecting the right of free speech by using it legally. I said that this was a dangerous practice since the police are armed.

A variation of this scheme to garner YouTube fame are people who get in the face of random strangers in public places, hoping for a hostile reaction that will amuse their audiences.

He had been roaming the city for months, with a smartphone in hand, insulting people. His shtick involved picking a random target – often staff or patrons in restaurants – and then pointing a camera in their face, while bombarding them with comments, often related to their appearance or race. His actions ranged from the annoying (telling people their breath smells) to the abusive (kissing people’s faces).

The videos almost never raised a laugh in person, but online some people responded encouragingly, giving him “likes” and praising his “roast”.

My fears that these antics will not end well have come true with one of these auditors being shot by a security guard outside a synagogue in Los Angeles. Fortunately the injury was not fatal.

There is an old couplet that I recall that warned against those who think that just being in the right provides some kind of immunity. It originated in the context of pedestrians who cross the street on pedestrian crossings without watching for oncoming traffic because they feel they have the right of way, but it applies in many situations, warning that being in the right is no guarantee that one will escape unscathed.

“He was right, dead right, as he walked along
But he’s just as dead now as if he had been wrong.”


  1. Marja Erwin says

    On the crossing issue:

    I have a neurological issue where flashing and moving lights can scramble my senses, and make me fall down or stumble into the street. My last neurologist said to avoid turn signals, but of course most crossings are at intersections, where turn signals come from all sides. So my options are to cross at intersections, where I can’t watch for traffic because I need to sheild my eyes, or to cross away from intersections, where I may be able to watch for oncoming traffic but drivers aren’t watching-- even if there’s a crosswalk marked there.

    I have been hit both ways.

  2. Mano Singham says


    I am sorry to hear this. That is a terrible thing to have to deal with since modern life is full of flashing and moving lights.

  3. jrkrideau says

    Let me get this right. There have been mass killings in synagogues and other religious places in the USA. There have been people arrested for planning attacks on synagogues in the USA.

    We have some idiot almost certainly aggressively dealing with an armed security guard outside a synagogue.

    Self–inflicted wound. Idiot, probably should be charged with disturbing the peace and stupidity in a public place.

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