Friday, April 17, 2009

Your Tonton Macoutes moment.

Dr. Dawg, as he is wont to do, documents another example of Canada's law enforcement, whose motto seems to be, "To serve and beat the living shit out of you whenever we feel like it."

After reading that, one is uncomfortably reminded of Haiti's Tonton Macoutes, who had a similarly cavalier attitude to, you know, law:

... personal police force of dictator Francois Duvalier (Papa Doc) of Haiti. Unpaid volunteers who were directly responsible only to Duvalier, they were given virtual license to torture, kill, and extort. They murdered hundreds of Duvalier's opponents, sometimes publicly hanging the corpses as warnings.

Lovely people, those. And whatever happened to them? Oh:

When Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide took power, the public backlash against known Macoutes was fierce. Many met Pere Lebrun, which is better known as "necklacing" -- a person is set on fire by having a burning gasoline-soaked tire thrown around his neck. Roughly 70 to 100 former Macoutes met this fate. There are some reports that a few of the Macoutes were ritually eaten by their killers, their flesh having been first sauteed in a cheap Haitian rum called Clarin.

I'm sure that kind of backlash could never happen here. At least the eating part. That would be tacky.

1 comment:

The Seer said...

This is a quintessentially Canadian issue.

When Sir Robert Peel organized the world's first modern police department, by replicating the Dublin Police Service in London, he did so by giving night watchmen sticks, hiring lots more of them and setting them at large before, as well as after dark.

The problem with a stick isn't that someone might find a bigger stick; beat the wrong dude you (a) slow him down; and (b) get him mad. The wrong dude doesn't necessarily need a stick.

Then comes the North-West Mounted Police, which was a light cavalry unit organized to keep "Americans," then known as "foreigners" out of, or at least under control, in Prince Rupert's Land. En Francais, it's more precise — Gendarmerie. (Almost by accident, they found the Mounties also could be effective against Aborigines.)

You mess with a guy with a stick, the worst you get is a worse beating.

Which, among other things, means that if you're an "authority" type, you get real satisfaction from carrying a gun, and you rarely have to use it, and you get this sense of impunity.

The gendarme model was introduced into the US when the state of Pennsylvania, around the turn of the last century, developed its own problems with "foreigners," in that case, in the form of Italians and labor unions. Pennsylvania decided that Brotherly Love required its own gendarmerie, and to organize "the Force" they got their technical advice and original training from the Mounties. One after another American state went the way of Pennsylvania, always with Mounties to advise and train, and cops with guns became popular throughout North America.

As for this taser thing, the idea is that you can maintain authority without actually killing someone, most times. That means less paperwork, again, most times.

If all they had was sticks, they would be more circumspect.