Okay, I'm pulling this out of the comments to have a look at. In a recent post over at Dawg's Blawg, the issue of police abuse of tasers was brought up, with a pile of video for reference. For the most part the video is pretty convincing that, for some cops at least, there is a tendency to zap first and ask questions later. Tasers are increasingly being deployed as "non-lethal" weapons for subduing unruly citizens. Some argue that they are the safe alternative to the use of firearms. But it just seems a tad too easy to draw a taser and shock someone in instances where there is absolutely no question that a gun would be excessive force.
Now, there aren't a lot of videos floating around of people getting zapped for posing a threat to public safety or the safety of officers. Not much outrage or glamour in a video of appropriate use of force. And while the number of deaths resulting from taser use climbs, an argument can be made that while not non-lethal, they are certainly far less lethal than a 9mm. I'd much rather see someone taken down with a taser than having their brains splashed on the pavement. Police departments take the use of firearms very seriously. Discharging a gun will lead to paperwork, reports and inquiries in most jurisdictions. The same scrutiny doesn't seem to be applied to the taser.
Dr. Dawg's argument was essentially that police and security officers are too damn quick to blast someone with the volts. The flash point in his comments had to do with one Andrew Meyer who was tasered for resisting arrest after making an ass of himself at a speech by John Kerry.
Dawg's piece began,
"The University student in Florida who was Tasered for running over his time at a campus meeting where John Kerry was speaking has bowed to Authority, written apologies to the cops, the university and and the university president, and escaped jail for whatever charges the state of Florida was going to bring against him."
And thus began a kerfuffle with KEvron, who took exception to the framing of the argument. At issue was the excuse for the wire job performed on Meyer. The incident began with Meyer monopolizing a microphone during a Q&A with the senator, refusing to step away when asked and behaving like a complete dick. Security came in and tried to physically remove Meyer from the room, he kicked up a fuss and resisted. For his troubles he received some complimentary voltage. It made for pretty dramatic video. A lot of people were outraged that Meyer was zapped. Some others, including CC and Red Tory, felt that Meyer might have staged his antics for Youtube and got more than he bargained for. In short, Meyer could have avoided the pain by cooperating, or at least not resisting, after acting like a squealing douche. That isn't a very sympathetic argument but it does ring true. Even so, despite being characterized as an authoritarian bully, CC went on to say,
"Did Meyer really deserve to get Tasered for what he did? Probably not. Did the cops over-react? Probably. Am I shedding any tears over Meyer's beatdown at the hands of some of UF's finest? I slept just fine last night, thanks."
Not exactly pacific but if you come here looking for unicorns and kittens, well sometimes there's a kitten but that's just 'cos we like kittens. The essence of CC's point was that the foolish abandonment of common sense led to a situation that needn't have escalated to such a degree. Which brings me to the reason for this post. Framing. In KEvron's estimation, Dr. Dawg perpetrated a fraud or was willfully dishonest in the framing of his piece by stating that Meyer got the volts for "running over his time". But I submit that each and every one of us, regardless of slant, is guilty of framing arguments to suit the desired result. Looking at the totality of the videos on Dawg's post, I agreed that the taser is just too easy a recourse for the lazy and brutish types that occasionally make it through the academy. There is a growing and disturbing body of evidence to support that argument.
I'm not anti-authoritarian. I understand the need for authority and enforcement but I also want to be sure that enforcement is controlled, reasoned and works with a minimum of violence. I've seen the best and worst of authority in action, from hero to monster. We'd all prefer to have heroes around but I'd happily settle for officers that are basically decent folk doing a tough job. I'd also like to see the use of tasers treated with the same level of scrutiny that firearms receive.
"sorry to have to post this here, but dr phrawd has banned me at his blog."
Having gone back to look over the exchange in question, it echoes the larger issue, did KEvron really deserve to get banned for what he wrote? Probably not. Did Dawg over react by banning KEvron? Probably. Now that I've been pulled into the discussion, will I lose any sleep over it? Not a lick. For the record, here's a brief recap of what brought about the ban,
"does "honesty" fall under the definition of decency?"
"lol! you're a fraud!"
and following the appearance of the excrement that posts from 'neath a mullet, the ever tainted Patrick Ross, things began to degenerate into flamery. When asked to desist, the Rosshole complied, KEvron did not. Voila, booted. Which brings the issue into this yard as a result of my comment, that began,
"For what it is worth Dawg, I'm on board here."
and to which KEvron responds...
"but you gotta wonder: why does the dr (i'm assuming his title is honorary) present his argument in bad faith ("....Tasered for running over his time at a campus meeting")? seems to me that, in presenting a false account of the events, dr phrawd has effectively established a shaky foundation for his position. what good is that? well, it aids in focusing attention to incidental details (sen kerry's attendance is the only reason the story came to international light) of this particular case rather than honestly address the question of arming police with tasers. in drawing attention away from the basic issue, and toward the details specific to this case, phrawd hopes to apply some "guilt by association". also, phrawd's confabulation puts progressives/liberals/democrats in the indefensible position of having to insist that sparky and his kind should be "tasered for running over his time at a campus meeting", to which, of course, none would ever agree, but that doesn't prevent phrawd from making the accusation none the less (did you catch where i was called indecent for objecting to phrawd's false account?). no, phrawd couldn't care less about tasers; his true intentions are petty and sad."
My question then, is how are the charges of dealing in bad faith, falsity, phrawd and shakiness of foundation in any way convincing? Dr. Dawg has been consistent in his arguments from the day of the incident in question. I don't see how the circumstantial details are of much import, sure it was during a Kerry appearance but the internet got lit up when the guy was tased in a California university library. From what I could see, Dawg's article and examples were overwhelmingly focused on the issue of tasers and their official misuse. Kerry was a detail that set the time and place of a particular incident, no more. I think you are reaching way too far by asserting that Dawg, "puts progressives/liberals/democrats in the indefensible position of having to insist that sparky and his kind should be "tasered for running over his time at a campus meeting". Really, that's just a bunch of doo-doo. Dawg approached the issue from his own consistent point of bias. He feels strongly about the police misuse of tasers and I don't exactly feel too comfie knowing how easily they can be deployed to shut up a loud mouth. Hence my comment,
"The taser is the weapon of convenience for lazy, authoritarian brutes."
look: we live in a society that values the rule of law. without enforcement, our laws are meaningless. we, as citizenries, have asked people to enforce our laws and to defend us from criminal elements. this is a very dangerous job, so we provide these people with the necessary equipment, training and guidelines to perform this job. we invest in them the authority to enforce our laws, and we implement methods to try to prevent abuse of this authority. yes, despite our best efforts, authority is often abused (the same can be said of democracy and of capitalism), but the alternative - abolishment of the institution - is unacceptable, so we endure and remain vigilant."
Kev, you're arguing out both sides of your mouth. Yes, we value the rule of law. We also expect and should demand that the people we hire to defend and enforce those laws, also obey them. Yes, their jobs are dangerous and stressful but can you argue that a citizen that fails to behave is a criminal element or a mortal threat? It is the breakdown of the training, guidelines and official oversight that leads to the abuse Dawg decries. Abolition is not the only alternative and you know it. Now *that* is an argument made in bad faith. Neither Dawg not I nor anyone that isn't loopy is seeking to abolish police or the rule of law. And while we're busy enduring the admitted abuses of authority, it is Dawg who is sounding the call for vigilance.
weapon of convenience.... should we demand that, in defense of our laws, police should be issued weapons which inconvenience them? is it fair to ask that they further risk their own lives in their mission?"
That's one awful tall pony your riding there Kev. If you want to twist my words and meaning you'll really have to do better than that. At no point has anyone sought to inconvenience or place the lives of police in jeopardy. I don't favour stripping them of tasers. What I do believe is important, is that their use be strictly governed. In any number of cases of abuse, the officers in question use tasers not because they are in any peril but to force compliance. Get on the ground...zap. Get out of the car...zap. Shut up and quit yelling...zap. Go look at the videos that Dawg posted. How many of those officers were in any peril? That senior citizen or the 11 year old kid posed a threat? Get real. We all understand the risks that police take and the world is tilting toward more violence all the time. But tasing has become a tool to punish on the spot and force instant compliance. It is not being used for protection. That is the problem that needs to be addressed.
"for lazy, authoritarian brutes".... an unfair assessment, and highly inflamatory rhetoric. their authority comes to them from the citizenry, and their weaponry is issued to them with the consent of the citizenry."
In what way is it unfair to point out an element within the police community that abuses their power, position and weaponry? The authority we grant them comes with the condition that it be used fairly and in compliance with the same laws we hire them to uphold. We give them leave to carry arms with the understanding that they are to be used as a last resort. If they behave otherwise then they are simply being lazy for not working to resolve conflict peacefully. They are being authoritarian, rather than representing authority, by using force to achieve utter compliance and they are brutes when they use brutal violence to achieve ends that could be met by other means. I wouldn't approve of breaking a citizens fingers until they complied at a traffic stop and I don't approve of tasing there either. We employ peace officers to uphold law and keep the peace, not to use violence against the citizenry without just cause.
i'm not opposed to antiauthoritarianism; quite the opposite, really. but i prefer to be pragmatic in that pursuit, and that pragmatism begins by being honest with myself."
Might I recommend that you reassess that pragmatic self-honesty. I think your feelings were hurt and you lashed out. Your arguments are as twisted as you accuse Dawg's of being. You set up a line of strawmen to knock down and the over all effect is to irk me a tad. I reserve the right to disagree with anyone but I hope that I am fairer than you've been here. I don't ban anyone, so you are welcome to have your say, but I don't suffer fools easily.