Don't Tase (Or Kill) Me, Bro!

Column by Alex R. Knight III.

Exclusive to STR

One of the latest techno-gadgets government has taken to employing against the public in order to further cement its grip on control by perpetuating a reign of terror are, of course, tasers. They are touted as an allegedly non-lethal means of coercing an uncooperative person into compliance with a government goon. Yet, according to a May 2013 study conducted by Amnesty International, these “non-lethal” devices have caused 540 deaths since American police departments and other law-enforcement (read politician opinion enforcement) agencies began using them en masse in 2001. Several of these victims have been people with pre-existing heart conditions, or even children. That’s right: Children. Dead at the hands of these tortuous devices.

Most iconic, perhaps, was this September 17, 2007 incident, where University of Florida student Andrew Meyer was tased and arrested by police after confronting Massachusetts Senator John Kerry about his membership in the secretive Skull & Bones Society. “Don’t tase me, bro!” became a temporary catchphrase both repeated humorously, and as a grim reminder of the escalating callousness of state power.

Naturally, my sympathies tend towards the latter.

We have seen, heard, and read much about – and are becoming frighteningly accustomed to – an ever more aggressive, belligerant, and militarized police force in America. Cops who train, act, and employ tactics like soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan, rather than protectors of basic peace. Indeed, many of them are former soldiers who have returned from those battlefields. The only effective difference, really, is that they generally dress in dark blue instead of desert camouflage. To them, we non-governmental “civilians” are foreign enemies and they, an occupying army. We are chattel in their eyes, and they have determined to be our masters – judge, jury, and executioner. And of course, the politicians don’t mind this one bit. In fact, it’s all just part of the plan.

Contemplate this for a moment, as well: How was it that for over two centuries of policing in America, cops did not have tasers and yet, somehow, mysteriously, chaos did not reign, America did not fall, and the world never came to an end? In fact, is it not true that since the introduction of tasers – a potentially very lethal torturing device – the general level of police misconduct, abuse, violence, and brutality has dramatically escalated? At the very least, over 540 people would likely still be alive today were it not for the police having been given full government sanction to use tasing as a means of compelling compliance with their orders. One of the original arguments in favor of police possessing tasers was so that deadlier methods, such as use of actual firearms, would not have to be employed as often. Yet in truth and practice, tasers are most often used, not in any life-threatening situation, but whenever a cop begins to become annoyed.

Let’s get real – tasers are a tool designed to acclimate the public to a heightened level of fear and terror at the hands of the State’s gendarmes. They are also employed in order to make the job of the police less physical and more fun – to feed the psychopathic and sociopathic tendencies of those whose prime purpose is keeping the politicians and other bureaucrats safely nestled in their ivory towers of lordship. It’s certainly not about protecting us – in fact, I don’t think it ever really has been. It’s about controlling us, and making us fear the State. And as those in political power come to fear the populace more, it creates a vicious, deadly whirlwind of which little good can ever come.

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Alex R. Knight III's picture
Columns on STR: 112

Alex R. Knight III is the author of numerous horror, science-fiction, and fantasy tales, including Tales from Dark 7.  He has also written and published poetry; non-fiction articles, reviews, and essays for a variety of venues; and is former Communications Director for the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire.  In 1998, he was awarded Activist of the Year for that organization.  He now lives and writes in rural southern Vermont where he holds a B.A. in Literature & Writing from Union Institute & University, and looks forward to living in a governmentless society of liberty.

Comments

Emmett Harris's picture

"[T]hese 'non-lethal' devices have caused 540 deaths."  But it's okay, as long as they're called non-lethal.

jd-in-georgia's picture

At the time it was released, Bad Lieutenant starting Harvey Keitel was the exception and not the rule. Times they are a changing.

Jim Davies's picture

Excellent piece as usual, Alex.
 
I wonder if the numbers might bear adjustment. You say "over 540 people would likely still be alive today..." had tasers not been used on them; but tasers are in use as an alternative to guns, which are much more frequently lethal.
 
Assuming they are always lethal, if G is the number of times guns would have been deployed and T is that of tasers, the number police would have killed is G-T+540.
 
I suspect that, horrible though they are, tasers may therefore have saved some lives, net.
 
Rather than abolishing tasers, I'd favor abolishing police. And in the coming free society, that's exactly what will happen.

Alex R. Knight III's picture

Jim:  While you would be right if tasers were only used in situations where firearms might otherwise be necessary, I try to point out here that this is far from being the case.  Cops use tasers with far greater impunity that guns, precisely because of the lesser likelihood that their use will result in an arrestee's death...which all too frequently, occurs anyway.  Now, true, it might be argued that a small percentage of that 540 plus would've warranted use of guns anyway -- but I cast serious doubt on all of them by any measurement.

daeuri's picture

Jim: If the police are confronted with a "kill or be killed" sitution, they will deploy their firearms every time. Tasers are for situations that haven't escalated to kill or be killed yet. The problem with the police use of tasers is that their purported non-lethality makes it easier for the police to use force under circumstances where firearm use would be more heavily scrutinized and criticized. A related problem is the mindset of police officers who feel justified using violence of any kind against citizens who question authority or resist illegal encroachment by the police.

Of course, if the police were under surveillance as much as our phone conversations and internet searches, taser abuse would probably not be an issue. Truth of the matter is that we will not be getting rid of the police until the entire apparatus of the state crashes under the weight of its corruption and inefficiency, and even then, you will need to have a sizeable amount of the population ready and amenable to life outside the state (Which is something very few of us have ever known), otherwise, you would have to deal with a new generation of statists laboring under the illusion that it was the state's agents, not the state, that needed to be replaced.

Jim Davies's picture

Thanks, Alex and daeuri, I stand corrected. You're no doubt right, tasers just make it easier to subdue the victim, without the need for too much exertion.
 
I still favor abolishing the police :-)

mhstahl's picture

"I still favor abolishing the police :-)"
Agreed.

Paul's picture

"How was it that for over two centuries of policing in America, cops did not have tasers..."

We haven't had cops for over two centuries. More like 180 years, and even then it was far from universal.

http://www.constitution.org/lrev/roots/cops.htm