The Internet created a new mechanism by which quotations can become famous, especially quotes that would probably not be famous otherwise. Depending on how much you’re into the Web, you may or may not know quotes like “All your base are belong to us” and “I Can Has Cheezburger?”
Those are quotes made famous by Internet sites. And, in recent years, the rapid growth of YouTube has added a new, lightning-fast way for quotes to spread around the world and become famous literally overnight.
One of the most best known examples is a quote that was blurted out on September 17, 2007.
It was on that date that a vocal college student in Florida said those unforgettable words: “Don’t tase me, bro.”
In case you live in a cave and don’t know the story of this oddly famous quote, here’s the short form.
On September 17, 2007, Senator John Kerry gave an address to students at the University of Florida in Gainesville. As the Q&A period was ending, 21-year-old student Andrew Meyer grabbed a microphone, started ranting about political conspiracy theories, insulting Kerry and talking about how President Bill Clinton was impeached for getting a b-job.
The University police decided that was going a bit over the top and started to forcibly remove Meyer from the auditorium. He resisted. The cops warned him to go quietly or get zapped with a taser gun. Meyer yelled out “Don’t tase me, bro.” They tased him – and arrested him.
Someone managed to take video of the hubbub and posted it on YouTube. Within a day, the incident and Meyers’ phrase were known to millions of people. The regular news outlets picked it up and made it even more famous.
Indeed, quote maven Fred Shapiro, author of the great Yale Book of Quotations designated “Don’t tase me, bro” as the most memorable quote of 2007. And, “tase” was listed as the word of the year by the editors of the New Oxford American Dictionary.
The incident also spawned t-shirts and other accessories that featured the phrase, various video and musical parodies and a long, detailed entry in Wikipedia.
After being arrested that September 7th, Meyer spent a brief time in jail for his uppity actions.
If the young whippersnapper had been able to see the examples of civil discourse set by adults who oppose President Obama’s health care plan, he’d have known that if he’d carried an automatic weapon and yelled something like “You lie!” he could have avoided the hoosegow.
Here are some of the other famous quotes and phrases linked to SEPTEMBER 17:
• “Kill the pig! Cut his throat! Kill the pig! Bash him in!” – Famous chilling chant from William Golding's novel about castaway boys, Lord of the Flies, first published on September 17, 1954.
• “There's an old poster out west, as I recall, that said, ‛Wanted: Dead or Alive.’” - President George W. Bush, responding to a question about his plans for Osama bin Laden, September 17, 2001.