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Hullabaloo


Saturday, December 21, 2013

 
*This post will stay at the top of the page for a while. Please scroll down for newer material.

Dispatch from Taser Nation ---- featuring a whole bunch of people in pain

by digby

Annual fundraiser:






I guess that's the 21st century version of stepping on a banana peel to some people --- except it includes lots of horrible screaming in pain, which evidently makes it all the funnier. The fact that people get concussions from their falls, sometimes lose their teeth or break bones  --- and sometimes die --- is a small price to pay for such hilarity.

I don't happen to be a person who thinks that writhing in pain is particularly funny in any circumstance. But I'm really appalled to see policeman using it to force a citizen into compliance. It is not, as advertised, simply a useful tool to replace more lethal force. It's much more commonly used in situations where no lethal force would ever be required. The abuses of this weapon have been documented on Youtube and in newspaper accounts all over the world. It is, quite simply, legal torture.

And we laugh about it. It's a big joke.

I have been documenting these abuses and discussing this legal torture weapon for years on this blog. I'm still shocked (pardon the pun) that this has become such an accepted method of social control in a free society. In my own small way, I hope I've managed to raise people's consciousness a little bit about this issue. In essence, I think it is one of the primary measures by which we can judge our culture's ongoing defining of deviancy down. (It ain't about sex, folks...) When police can routinely shoot children and bedridden 90 year old women full of electricity without any serious fear of official sanction or the public at large rising up in opposition I fear that any society has crossed an important line.

I think this is an important issue and I will continue to write about it --- and on the occasions that I'm called upon to speak in public it's a topic I always try to raise. There is a growing awareness of the dangers of these weapons, which is all to the good. Nobody knows in advance which people might die and neither do the people on whom they deploy it. The rising death toll is making the justice system take a harder look at this tactic.

But it's also important to discuss this in the context of our civil liberties. Tasers allow the government to inflict pain on average citizens at will to make them comply with its orders. They are not used simply to replace the use of lethal force or even instances where an officer might have used a baton in the past. It is used to make it more efficient and convenient for the government to control its citizens in ways that would have required talking, psychology and simple persuasion in the past. And much like the NSA programs, we have forgotten to ask ourselves if this convenient technology comports with the values we've always espoused as a society that requires due process of law before the government can use its immense powers against its own citizens. Shooting 50,000 volts into elderly grandmothers or epileptics in the midst of a seizure, small children or simply an average person who annoys a police officer with "attitude" does not comport with those values in my opinion.

I'd like to keep writing about this subject, raising consciousness and generally just documenting the abuses so they are out there for people to see on a regular basis. If you find this an area of concern as well, I could use your support to keep this blog going and reaching whomever I can with this message. If you have a couple of bucks to spare, I'd be very grateful:





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