Thoughts on tasers - Journal of Omnifarious
Feb. 4th, 2008
04:54 pm - Thoughts on tasers
I think that the police or security officers should on no account be allowed to use tasers, but the general public should be allowed to. I've come to this conclusion after a fair amount of thought, and it is a somewhat surprising one.
The reason is that use of a taser has way too few physical consequences. It's very hard to hold the police appropriately accountable for using them. It's hard enough to hold them accountable for shooting people or beating them up. But at least there you have physical evidence. With tasers the subject looks fine afterwards. Sure they may have just been tortured, but they don't have any scars or bruises to show for it.
In multiple videos I've seen over the past year I've seen instances of the police or security officer using a taser not because of any real immediate threat of any kind to anybody's safety, but because the person they tased wasn't doing what the security officer wanted them to do. It was used as a tool to silence and punish, a tool of torture, not a tool to make people safe or defuse a dangerous situation. In fact, in a couple of those situations the security officers came close to causing a riot. IMHO, they deserved to have the whole room of people surround them, put them in cuffs and call someone cart them off to jail. I hope the next time an incident like that happens in a crowd situation that someone has the presence of mind and ability to quickly get a group to do what they want to make that happen.
OTOH, ordinary citizens are not insulated from the consequences of indiscriminate taser use. And they don't have the position of authority to use to avoid being held accountable. For them, a taser is just fine. There are situations in which it's extremely useful for defusing a situation without costing someone their life or causing permanent injury.