Saturday, November 14, 2015

Everyday Torture

And I don't mean "torture" as a metaphor.  I mean cops everywhere subjecting anyone they don't like to lethal jolts of electricity, just because they can.

It's good to see the major media finally waking up to the fact that police are using tasers as torture devices that are killing a fair number of unarmed citizens. This story in today's Guardian goes in depth on the killing of nearly 50 people just this year with tasers:


Police often use tasers to exact street justice on people whom they feel disrespect them. It's so common that people don't even comment on it anymore. And Americans accept this as a perfectly normal police tactic. After all, it doesn't leave marks like a baton beating would so it's no big deal. Unless you fall head first and knock your teeth out. Or hit the curb and get a concussion. Or die.

This is not the only big story about tasers in recent days. This one from the LA Times about taser torture on the border is astonishing, even to me and I've been following this stuff for too long:


Using tasers in lieu of guns wherever possible should be a no-brainer. But in none of the above cases can you say that the officers would have had to fire their guns if not for the taser. They are clearly being used as legal torture devices to coerce compliance --- and as a method of punishment.

What's interesting about both of these articles is that it's finally becoming clear to people that tasers are tools for police brutality and are being commonly used for that purpose. They cause great pain and trauma and sometimes kill people. They could be useful if used with discretion. But too many police do not see them as a replacement for the gun in cases where their lives or the lives of others are not in immediate danger but simply as pain compliance --- a euphemism for torture.

It's long past time our society took a long hard look at these devices. For too long tasers were seen as  funny, slapstick comedy. (The still are by Hollywood, which really needs some education on this subject.) And that's no less creepy than laughing at police delivering a beatdown to a citizen on the side of the road. I'm glad to see that the press is finally taking up the subject and seeing it for what it has become.

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