Year of the Taser

It has become apparent that Law Enforcement agents are ready prepared, not only to use the trusty pistol carried to intimidate us, but that lovely secondary weapon: Taser. As we have seen, just in the last few weeks, the taser has become the weapon of choice for the long hand of the law because it is, according to many, the best, non-deadly use of force to take down violent or unruly criminals.

A taser, or electroshock weapon, is designed to use a current of electricity to incapacitate someone by disrupting their muscle functions. Most of them can be set at different voltages, and the range of electricity runs from 100 kV to  1 MV (1,000 kV). To give a frame of reference, High voltage electric power transmission lines (power lines) run at about 110 kV RMS and can run up to the highest voltage ever recorded – 1150 kV. So when someone is tased by the police, it is comparable to being touched with a high power electricity line for a few seconds. Does that seem a bit cruel and unusual to anyone else?

A quick search through recent Google news shows an unbelievable amount of recent events in which police have used tasers to take down “violent or unruly” criminals who really do not deserve the zap. In California the police tasered an autistic teen for leaving the treatment center he was at. This was justified, according to Police, because it would have been too dangerous for our trusty Boys in Blue to go out into the street where the teen was walking, and help him back to the side of the road. In Ohio, a woman was tased several times after a minor stint at a bar. She was then cuffed and taken downtown.

Of course there is the story that made this all ‘a big deal.’ On Tuesday, September 18th, 2007 Andrew Meyer, an aspiring journalist, was tased after asking Former Presidential candidate, John Kerry, some questions. Although the video does not give much of the back-story, the police say they were justified in doing so because they had, “already told him he couldn’t ask his question.” The police report filed is filled with language that makes Meyer out to be a class-clown; only intent on making a scene. After having his microphone was cut off, Meyer resisted his unlawful ‘arrest’ and tried to fight off the police. They wrestled him to the ground, while other students and Senator Kerry watched. After being unable to subdue him (after he said he would leave if the Senator answered his question) they brought out the big guns and tased him several times. I urge all of you to watch the video available on YouTube.

Some news stories recently have come out suggesting the whole thing was a stunt so that Meyer could get attention, but my question is: so what? The fact is that Meyer, regardless of intent, was unjustifiably and unjustly hurt by the police. He was taken out of a function, in violation of the rules of that event, for asking questions.  Whether you be liberal, conservative, socialist, or whatever, this is pure, unabashed police brutality. Even if it was a stunt, the police were not kidding and were not, in any way, justified in sending thousands of volts of electricity coursing through his body. In poetic terms, this is a travesty of justice.

The taser appears to be the new fad in police justice. Does it make you feel safer knowing that if you do not ask the right questions at the right time or at the right event, that you will be forced to be silent? I assumed Americans prided themselves on not having the NKVD, KGB or HVH to silence our discontent. However, the new method to control our tongues and, therefore our freedom comes between 1 and 1,000 kilovolts of electricity…what a shock.

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