Unsportsmanlike Conduct
November 21, 1978 — Florida Flambeau

The Mossadegh Project | September 5, 2017                    

Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape (1975) by Susan Brownmiller

On Nov. 15th, 1978, a demonstration against U.S. support for the Shah of Iran held at Florida State University in Tallahassee turned violent — not by demonstrators, but by law enforcement. FSU and Leon County police reportedly assaulted and subsequently arrested nine peaceful protesters.

Florida Flambeau
Tuesday, November 21, 1978

Cops showed definite lack of
‘sporting value’ in Iranian fracas


I was shocked and disgusted as I read the account of the Iranian students vs. police conflict in The Flambeau today.

President Carter makes pious pronouncements expressing his concern over the use of “torture” in totalitarian regimes; yet he ignores virtually the same phenomena occurring as a regular part of police control in this country. This letter writer didn’t think that was very fair.

To quote the article in The Flambeau:

“. . .plainclothesmen wrestled two Iranians to the ground. Each Iranian was sat on by one officer and held in a stranglehold by another. Both were purple faced and gasping for breath. One tried to lift his head, but officers hit him repeatedly in the face and tightened their hold. Blood flowed from his mouth and nose.

“. . .Two female students leapt into the fracas and tried to pry the policemen’s arms off of the captured Iranians’ neck, but were pushed away.

“Several witnesses — both Iranians and their American supporters — pointed to a curly-haired FSU investigator, later identified as Ronald E. Moat, alleging he choked a demonstrator so severely that he had to be restrained by his fellow officers. . .”

In her book, Against Our Will, Susan Brownmiller says that a common technique used by a rapist against a rape victim is to choke her into submission, because “. . . nothing terrorizes faster than the inability to breathe. . .” And here we have policemen using “choking” to subdue the victims in this case. What is the difference? [Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape (1975)]

I was not particularly disturbed when I read in The Flambeau story that some policemen were simply “grappling” with some of the demonstrators. After all, I see that type of behavior in football games on television two or three times a week, and it doesn’t particularly disturb me. But there is something intrinsically inhuman and unfair in one person “sitting” on a person, while another person “strangles” him until he is “purple faced and gasping for breath.” If we saw this type of behavior in a football game, probably a referee or another player would immediately pull the protagonist off the victim; and yet when the police, as the official arm of the state do it, it is somehow rationalized as being necessary to “subdue” the dissenting person.

But were the Iranian protestors engaged in any action likely to cause bodily harm to anyone else? It is obvious to me that they were not. So they may have intended to burn a couple of dummies in effigy; people burn trash everyday, but we don’t beat them, choke them, and throw them into jail because of it.

Those people at the demonstration who could not resist the opportunity to yell, “Go to hell, Gators!” during the course of these events, might do well to examine whatever “sporting values” they may have, and ask themselves the question of whether or not the policemen in this case were really being “fair” or “sporting” in their actions against the demonstrators.

John Stone

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Related links:

Crowd behavbior poor | Florida Flambeau letter, Nov. 16, 1978

No way Iran will be a Vietnam — Letter in Florida Flambeau (December 6, 1978)

Pro-Shah Film Screening Shut Down By Protesters (November 1973)

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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