Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Witness in Worcester

Unless his buds Sean Cardinal O'Malley and Ray Ex-Progressive Flynn convince him otherwise, Larry Cirignano is not likely to do the right thing. The executive director of Catholic Citizenship will be charged with simple assault in Worcester.

Observations of a witness follow in this post. The Worcester Telegram report on the complaint has victim, aggressor and police comments. Today's report says Cirignano will appear before a clerk magistrate who will decide whether there's enough evidence to try him.

Doubting Thomases, there is an item to this effect in today's Boston Globe (half way down). Victim and witness statements seemed adequate to require a summons for the misdemeanor. He will face the charge for seeking out a counter-protester in a crowd at a rally calling for passage of an anti-same-sex-marriage amendment and pushing her so that she fell to the ground.

So far, he and some of his supports use their own blogs, press releases, statements to the press and comments on left-wing blogs to slam the victim and claim Cirignano's innocence. Among this bluster is the she-was-asking-for-it defense. This is not in the she wore a red dress cliché, rather that she was not in a protesting group that had a permit, so whatever happened, just happened.

Odder seems to be Cirignano's seemingly indefensible remarks so far. First, he charged that she was crowding the podium and he was defending the speakers (pix of the rally show perhaps a 30-foot separation from the nearest [and anti-SSM] protesters and the podium). He also claims that he had a portfolio in one hand and was gently leading this misguided little woman out of his group. He says he never pushed her.

A witness from Worcester, who was at the rally, tells me:
I can't tell you whether Sarah Loy had ever been as close to the podium as some have indicated. I never saw her there, but I wasn't tracking her movements or anything. What I can speak of is where she was at the time of the assault. She was about 10-15 feet in front of me and about 80-90 feet from the podium. She was in the VoteOnMarriage half circle, but only 4 or so people deep. I saw the hands on her shoulders as she was pushed over, but due to the crowd I didn't see the face "connected" to the hands. She was pushed hard enough that the back of her head hit the ground pretty hard. When I saw Ms. Loy go down and stay down, I went to go and check on her well-being. She was awake but very upset and shaken-up. I picked her head off the ground and as I did so, I looked up to see the man that I now know as Larry Cirignano quickly making his way back towards the podium. I couldn't identify the person until he turned around and looked back at us. I saw the face, sweater, and coat which allowed me to identify Mr. Cirignano, who had spoken at the podium just before the incident. On the orders of the police, I got Ms. Loy up and escorted her out of the crowd.
Supposedly there is video by some witnesses. If taken by the VOM folk, it may or may not end up with the police and courts, particularly if what so many witnesses report is accurate.

It is easy and apt to see this metaphorically. What witnesses say Cirignano did, and even some of his defenders' apology for him, translate. Do these folk respect other humans? Do they honor and obey the law?

We learn some key behaviors early. A prime measure of civilization and civility is never raising a verbal difference to a physical level. Another is not attacking those weaker than you -- small folk, the elderly, children, and in such cases as this a large man against a small woman.

It would appear Cirignano has miscalculated on this one. While the likely penalty would be a small fine, his conviction is both unethical and will follow him and his odious organization. O'Malley and Flynn are already iffy with their other associations; they don't need this either.

A sensible Cirignano might have said that he strode those many yards into a crowd to confront Loy, found himself carried away by the moment and "guided" her more firmly than he originally intended. He might have apologized and been done with it.

That would have required someone willing to own up to his actions and a man of honor. Think. Think. Think. Would that happen here? Did it happen here?

Meanwhile, until video surfaces to convince even some of the most delusional, we have to heap scorn on Cirignano for not expressing any concern for the victim here.

The anti-SSM forces have lost the larger battle and eventually will have to face that. Until that occurs, they should dig down to what they likely learned in church and most may even have heard at home.

Concern and respect for others drives and lubricates human interaction. Self-righteousness and resulting violence are in our feral nature that we need to control and channel. Maybe that should fall to Friar O'Malley to have that discussion with his chum.

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Anonymous said...

I think video or photos will be key evidence. Right now we have a Rashômon situation, where different eyewitnesses are saying contradictory things. Psychological studies raise doubt as to the accuracy of memories in eyewitness situations, since bias can play a huge role in what someone recalls seeing. It will be interesting to see what evidence surfaces.

At any rate, I'm glad Mrs. Loy was not hurt worse than she was.

On Lawn said...

Thanks for the post. I notice you don't have tracebacks so I'll just leave with this message.

I can appreciate some of what you are trying to say here, and I hope that people get to the bottom of this episode soon. Never the less, my reply is located here...

Capture the Flag, a game for victimization

massmarrier said...

Steve, the Roshomon reference implies an honest dispute. The preponderance of evidence supports instead that Cirignano is doing the Richard Nixonian I-am-not-a-crook routine. So far, other than his blustery CYA claims and a few folk waving their hand while saying they are sure he could never beat up a woman, witness after witness is saying he knocked her down. Roshomon ennobles him. If that flick had 18 folk on one side and the accused saying it never happened, it would not have the emotional and psychological punch it does.

John Hosty said...

Thanks for covering the story. Here is our latest at KTN:

From EdgeBoston.com

"Officers did not witness the incident, Worcester police spokesperson Sgt. Kerry Hazelhurst told EDGE Dec. 19. If they had, they would have placed Cirignano under arrest on a misdemeanor charge, he said. "He’s already admitted that he touched her," Hazelhurst reported. Under Massachusetts law, a person can be charged with assault and battery by merely touching another person if the touch is unwanted, Hazelhurst explained. "He pushed her down and he admits that as well."

Better than video is his admission. Now an appology should come next.