Surfing the Spectacle

The Marvel of the Taser

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Like baked bread and the polio vaccine, the taser is a glorious invention. The stun gun weapon fires 50,000 volts of electricity and, hurrah, the knife-wielding suspect is subdued. No one need fire lethal bullets and, best yet, the assailant soon feels dandy and eager to attend church. It’s totally safe and totally good.

There’s just two, you know, small problems, little things that eventually should be ironed out.

First. It kills people.

Amnesty International reports that some 500 hundred Americans have been killed shortly after being tasered. This disturbs some folks given that most victims are typically agitated but unarmed. Some are already bound. Amnesty International writes:

“They have been used against unruly schoolchildren; unarmed mentally disturbed or intoxicated individuals; suspects fleeing minor crime scenes and people who argue with police or fail to comply immediately with a command. Cases described in this report include the stunning of a 15-year-old schoolgirl in Florida, following a dispute on a bus, and a 13- year-old girl in Arizona, who threw a book in a public library…..force as last resort, instead of first.”

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Which brings us to the second small problem. The power to inflict severe pain at the push of a button can be a temptation for certain people. They might just engage in questionable judgment.

For instance, some officers might confuse a student in a university library who is not carrying his student I.D. with, say, an armed and insane killer bent on psychopathic rampage.

The video is a bit muddy but the screams are pretty clear.

Which naturally begs the question: How can I get my own personal taser to defend myself when I go to the library?

Fortunately, there are many places; try here (“Order Online! It’s Easy!).

But also this: Look at the video and ask yourself what you would do if you happened to see someone unjustly tasered and brutalized? What exactly is the right response? Look away? Walk away? Stay and stand quietly? Take a picture? Call your friend? Scream?

Just what would you have to see before you would ACT, and what exactly would that act be?

[Don Knotts taser illustration by RJ Matson.]

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