Tasers in the hands of human nature

I happened upon videos of cops tasering arrestees. Gruesome scenes of obvious sadistic indulgence. Sometimes prolonged and repeated.

While the taser has become a popular tool for the police to deal with uncooperative subjects, it’s hard not to see pure sadism in the guise of standard operating procedure. The police bark their orders (usually, “put your hands behind your back”) and give a warning about using the taser. If still no compliance, zap.

Rather, ZAAAAAAAAAAP. Then the officer repeats his instruction. If the subject is still dealing with the pain, or is disoriented by having fallen, or cannot register the policeman’s command, no matter, ZAAAP again. More howls, more uncomprehending, ZAAAP, ZAAAP, until the officer deems it safe enough to sit on the subject and pull the subject’s hands behind the back himself to apply the handcuffs.

Try laying stomach down on your bed and raising your arms to clasp your hands behind your back. Of course you can do it, but it’s very easy to feel like you cannot. Imagine if you are recovering from the pain of the electroshock, or you’re bruised from hitting the ground, or perhaps you are disoriented from alcohol, as in many of the cases.

While tasers do appear to be reducing our peace officers’ exposure to physical contact with suspected criminals, did we mean to remove the human, humane element of their task? We didn’t hire robots for the job, for example. We probably intended, and we pay police accordingly, to exercise some elbow grease.

The job description for a police officer must include apprehending suspected lawbreakers humanely. We don’t authorize them to shoot suspects or drive Mack trucks into them, even if some law-enforcement researcher was to discover a non-lethal way that could be done.

With tasers, aren’t we touching on the abrogation of the right to due process under law? A person is innocent until proven guilty, we all know that, but it applies here because a person suspected of a crime must not be punished before their day in court. Police maintain that the taser is not a means of punishment, but instead is a non-lethal method to induce compliance with recalcitrant subjects. Putting aside the already numerous taser fatalities, the taser would have to be non-painful as well to comply with the 14th Amendment. Viewing the videos, it’s plain to see that tasers are excruciatingly painful and are being used by policemen as torture devices. Even to threaten to use the device is torture. Torture and the threat of torture is banned by international convention.

I must admit a cynical enjoyment of some of these taser videos. The large majority of subjects not cooperating with the police are drunk. In these videos, they were pulled over for drunk driving or for a domestic disturbance influenced by alcohol. I sympathize with the officers who cannot get through to those people, especially when they are derisive and combative.

The drunks try to avoid the commands they’re given using tactics of delay or distract or abuse. Of course, how much responsibility should they bear for behavior not entirely under their own control? When tasered a drunk writhes in pain like everyone else, but you wonder if he will have any memory of it later. Perhaps this plays a part in an officer’s thinking. The drunk, lost in a chemical state, is suspected of jeopardizing the safety of others, but can be judged on the spot for trying the officer’s patience, the taser becomes a means of instant payback. Traditionally, excessive force would have served this function, but at least the policeman would have had to weigh his interest in exerting the effort. The taser makes it too easy to make the wrong decision.

I wouldn’t trust myself with a taser, I’m too jaded. I already lament the social plague that is alcoholism. There are of course many root problems which our society needs to address. But so also, the alcoholic’s behavior is sometimes vehemently proclaimed to be voluntary. Our having to deal with the adversity and endangerment which alcoholics bring is too often not voluntary. In these videos, I take a vicarious pleasure in stopping that drunk. As long as drunks want to subject the rest of us to their drunkenness, and won’t show contrition until morning, we’ll want to indulge our equal and opposite discomfort and Zap ’em.

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Eric Verlo

About Eric Verlo

On sabbatical
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2 Responses to Tasers in the hands of human nature

  1. Avatar jonah says:

    yeah, “derisive or combative”

    Call a punk pig asswipe a punk pig asswipe and the punk will say it’s actually an assault.

    You or I can’t get away with hurting somebody and saying “Waaah,,, he called me a NAME!” but those coward murdering lying punk pig motherfuckers can.

    They get sexually aroused by exercising power over people, and especially if it means they get to cause physical pain.

    That’s why they become cops in the first place.

    I’ve been seeing around town where a graffiti artist has been writing “Kill Cops”

    To which I say, Right ON!

    I’m glad Jensen and Jordan are in Hell where they belong.

    That might not be very pacifistic or even Christian of me, but I simply cannot bring myself to love the coward scum. Being tortured by them does that to you.

    I can’t see a human being behind the badge, because there is none.

    There’s no such thing as a “Good Cop” or even a Human Cop.

    The Pigs don’t like me saying that, then they should have restrained their fellow pigs.

  2. Avatar Billy says:

    Hey Jonah- your message is a bunch of convoluted shite- go down to the 7-11 and get a tampon- Just being you probably is torture enough- Alcoholism is a “social plague”??? Quit subjecting the rest of us to your lame observations before I hit you with a nightstick!

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