Rand Paul, Aqua-Buddha, & Media Responsibility
It’s encouraging to see the media reacting responsibly to the Rand Paul ‘Aqua-Buddha’ story. A juicy scandal such as this can be a journalists dream. An up and coming political contender, and crown prince of the first family of Libertarian politics, supports the legalization of Marijuana, kidnapping a female student and forcing her to smoke a bong, and then worship the ‘Aqua-Buddha’ by a creek in the middle of the night. What a delicious morsel.
It’s a beautiful story; almost as if someone made it up in order to temp journalists into stepping off a cliff, as Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and other conservative media pundits, did during the Shirley Sherrod fiasco. It was a plump worm dangling on an anglers line waiting for a strike: but alas, all it got was a nibble. It was mentioned throughout national media with a raised eyebrow and a smirk and then quickly dispatched. None of the reporting had the air of accusation, or a call for Dr. Paul’s head, such as Mrs. Sherrod received at the hands of Bill O’Reilly on the very day that a much less credible story was aired regarding her. This wasn’t Andrew Breitbart reporting either; this was GQ, with a track-record of responsible journalism.
The following is the portion of the GQ article by Jason Zengerle that mentions the events in question.
The strangest episode of Paul’s time at Baylor occurred one afternoon in 1983 (although memories about all of these events are understandably a bit hazy, so the date might be slightly off), when he and a NoZe brother paid a visit to a female student who was one of Paul’s teammates on the Baylor swim team. According to this woman, who requested anonymity because of her current job as a clinical psychologist, “He and Randy came to my house, they knocked on my door, and then they blindfolded me, tied me up, and put me in their car. They took me to their apartment and tried to force me to take bong hits. They’d been smoking pot.” After the woman refused to smoke with them, Paul and his friend put her back in their car and drove to the countryside outside of Waco, where they stopped near a creek. “They told me their god was ‘Aqua Buddha’ and that I needed to bow down and worship him,” the woman recalls. “They blindfolded me and made me bow down to ‘Aqua Buddha’ in the creek. I had to say, ‘I worship you Aqua Buddha, I worship you.’ At Baylor, there were people actively going around trying to save you and we had to go to chapel, so worshiping idols was a big no-no.”
Read More here.
My first thought was, “I remember using the ‘I got kidnapped and they made me smoke a Bong’ excuse.” My parents treated it with the same incredulity that I detected from Keith Olbermann and any other national media outlet addressing the story. Perhaps a similar thought occurred to others as well, or perhaps their reaction was based solely on professionalism and the need for more than a single source, second-hand accounting, of a thirty year old story. Either way, It’s refreshing to see that liberal media figures are giving Dr. Paul a more responsible treatment than Shirley Sherrod received from Andrew Breitbart.
Mr. Zengerle’s reporting is not in question. The anecdote was relayed clearly and without any apparent embellishment or creative editing. No judgements were made of Dr. Paul or the incident. The information was presented in a thoroughly professional manner. Shirley Sherrod should have been so fortunate.
If there is anything truly damning in this story, which I highly doubt, I’m sure the professionals will uncover it and we will all be adequately informed without having to wait for the reluctant retractions, murky clarifications, and conditional apologies provided Mrs. Sherrod. In the meantime, Dr. Paul has no shortage of other, current, faux pas to deal with. I would rather have more clarification on his civil rights stance than his college party days.
Dr. Paul might be well served to embrace the Aqua-Buddha story, and the tales of the ‘boys from NoZe,’ it makes him seem a little more…. normal, if you will. A pot-smoking college student, making poor judgements, and talking silliness with a girl by a creek in the middle of the night, is much easier to understand than some of the policy prescriptions he’s promoting now.
Congratulations to the liberal media for giving this story all the import it deserves at this time, which is little. It’s fun to mention, and it’s great fodder for the break room at work, but anything more would have been a serious blow to credibility and all involved would end up looking like Andrew Breitbart and the talking heads of the Fox News propaganda machine.