Is it ok to taser people we don't like?

Is it ok to taser people we don't like?

by digby

Here's a test for your princples against police use of tasers: a heckler at a gun control rally was tasered by police for shouting at a victim of gun violence.

Yes, this person is definitely a creep. But ... he didn't physically threaten anyone, did he? Indeed, his resistance, like many people, seems to be a reaction to being shot through with electricity, not the cause of it. It seems to me to be a rather natural reaction.

As Cantin spoke, just moments after delivering the names of the dead to Sen. Ayotte, Musso began to get agitated. “Why are you shaking talking about this?” WMUR-TV, which had a reporter on the scene, quoted him as saying. “You’re not the truth!” The Concord Monitor added that he kept asking Cantin to elaborate on what kind of gun was used to kill his daughter. “A pellet gun, a machine gun – what kind of gun, sir?” Musso reportedly said. All the while, he wore a red T-shirt with a message supportive of Native American rights, according to Concord Patch.

The interruptions continued for several more minutes before Musso walked away, but police had already arrived on the scene and decided they’d seen enough. A struggle ensued, lasting about 90 seconds before officers deployed a Taser and took him to the ground. A gathering of about 60 counter-protesters, many of whom were openly carrying firearms according to The Union Leader, appeared disappointed, but Cantin was unmoved. “They just weakened their cause and strengthened ours,” he told the paper.

“People just need to be more respectful, don’t get so emotional about this,” Cantin added, speaking to WMUR-TV. “Everybody has the right to their own opinion. We’re all Americans. We should be able to express that.”

He's right, of course. But I'm pretty sure that's what this fellow was doing too. This is a contentious debate and just because someone is "emotional" doesn't mean they are dangerous. He wasn't armed, which would have been a different situation. He was just some gun proliferation yahoo who couldn't contain his frustration and started shouting at the speaker.

I completely disagree with his stand on guns and yes, we should probably all be more polite in general. But I think the police could have handled the situation without deploying a taser. They used to be able to do it all the time. Even gun nut hecklers don't deserve to get shot through with 50,000 volts merely for expressing their opinion, however vociferously, at a public rally.