Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Are We Tasering People Enough?

The tasering of a student at a John Kerry speech at University of Florida has many people confused. At first conservative bloggers seized on the story of Andrew Meyer's tasering at the UF forum as another example of the unjust treatment of conservatives in our society, not to mention another chance to attack John Kerry. As usual Michelle Malkin led the way. She likes to get on top of a story and draw conclusions as soon as possible because she can always backtrack later.

"You know what the lamest part is? Listening to impotent John Kerry's voice droning apathetically during the entire incident," wrote Malkin. If it had been her giving the speech and a liberal had asked her rude questions and been tasered by police, she no doubt would have leapt into the audience and come to the obnoxious questioner's defense, even at the risk of being tasered herself. That's the kind of person she is. Kerry did later condemn the arrest, saying that he and Meyer were engaged in "a good healthy discussion," apparently not realizing that the reason their discussion seemed so one-sided was because his discussion partner was being electrocuted.

But according to Ace of Spades the police would never have tasered a liberal disturbing a speech by a conservative. Because conservatives are treated like second-class citizens in our society and women refuse to date them, at least judging by his experience, conservatives are the only people who ever get tasered. Stop the ACLU joked delightfully that the ACLU should get involved, knowing, of course, that the ACLU never defends conservatives, other than Nazis, that is. Conservatives were outraged that the civil liberties of one of their own were being trampled.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the blogstorm. It turned out that the student was not conservative but was in fact so liberal he was to the left of Kerry. The initial enthusiasm for Meyer began to wane with this revelation. "No, he isn't one of ours," wrote Dan Riehl, saving his long, self-pitying treatise on how unfair the world is to conservatives, which we are all looking forward to reading, for another day. "Good for the campus police because Meyer deserved what he got," said John Hawkins at Right Wing News. Somehow the idea of a liberal getting tasered didn't seem quite so outrageous after all. And certainly no one minded all that much when a Muslim student got tasered last year in the UCLA library where he may have been reading books on bomb making or something. Eventually, Malkin would change her position 180 degrees and start attacking Meyer. In the midst of reconsidering her initial reaction to the tasering, Malkin even managed to find an anti-immigrant angle. "Speaking of tasers, did you know that immigration officers cannot use them against illegal aliens in federal detention facilities?" she said, pointing out that Tom Tancredo (who is opposed to immigration despite his suspiciously foreign-sounding name) is doing something about this unfair "differential treatment." When the victim of tasering is an illegal immigrant, suddenly it doesn't seem so bad.

You might think that at this point the liberal blogosphere would have rallied to Meyer's defense. At first they seemed to be ignoring the story or even justified the police conduct because the idea of a conservative activist getting tasered at a Kerry speech didn't seem like anything to get worked up about. Plus, liberal bloggers are just as happy to bash Kerry as conservatives are since they blame him for botching the election. Although some liberal bloggers are now tentatively saying that the police may have gone a bit too far, they don't seem quite so outraged as the conservative bloggers almost were. Something seems to be holding them back. Sure, the First Amendment sounds good in theory, but perhaps tasering some annoying people might not be such a bad idea and it wouldn't be prudent to come out against tasering per se. There are a few conservative bloggers, some liberals must be thinking, who could use a good tasering.

While many conservatives and liberals seem to be shifting their positions so quickly it would take a quantum mechanic to sort it all out, I have maintained a very consistent point of view ever since I first heard about the incident. I am 100% in favor of tasering obnoxious people, whether they are conservative, liberal or radically moderate. In fact, I don't think we are tasering people enough and that this country would be better off if we had more tasering not less.

I think we have all seen political events where someone talks on and on or is irritatingly impassioned about their narrow agenda. If we armed security at all of these events with taser guns, I'm sure people would think twice about hogging the microphones and boring us with their speeches about issues we don't care about. Tasering has a remarkably calming effect on people as you can see by the reaction of the crowd at the UF event. Instead of becoming angry at the police or trying to intervene or speak out about the treatment of Meyer, they all became quite docile.

If only we had had tasers in the 1960s, I think we might have avoided a lot of the campus unrest during that turbulent decade. They seem to be much more effective at pacifying people than tear gas, German shepherds, firehoses and bullets. If the police had tasered a few anti-war protesters during the 1960s, we might not have lost the Vietnam War.

Although tasers do reportedly hurt -- a lot -- they are an effective means of nonlethal force, if you don't count the 148 people who have died from being tasered, and their effects are not permanent, the way shooting people sometimes is. If more people were tasered at public events, it would have a big impact on lessening the coarsening of our culture.

Throughout the 2004 presidential campaign, for example, President Bush had to screen the people attending his events to make sure that no one would ask him a rude or difficult question. But it would have been much easier if the Secret Service were armed with tasers and simply tasered anyone who got out of line. I don't think anyone would have asked any impolite questions if they saw that all the Secret Service agents carrying stun guns. The judicious use of tasers might make the 2008 election a lot more tolerable.

But tasers would not just have a calming effect on our political discourse. Just as concealed carry laws reduce crime as criminals become aware that anyone could shoot them, making tasers more available to the general public would make people think twice about being discourteous. Taser International is marketing a fashionable pink taser for women that should keep overly flirtatious men in check. And widespread use of tasers would reduce the number of both surly waiters and annoying customers arguing over every little charge on their restaurant bills.

Tasers also have the potential to transform future generations in a way that could be even more far-reaching than drugging our kids with Ritalin. If our teachers had tasers, students would be much better behaved and we might avoid incidents like Columbine and Virginia Tech. And I can't tell you how many times I have wished that parents had tasers to discipline their unruly kids. In New York they are actually doing something about this problem. Teenagers there are going to think twice about disturbing the neighbors with rowdy barbecues after the 17-year-old son of a retired policeman was tased four times last month after beating him and choking him was not having the desired effect. In Great Britain police are pioneering the use of tasers to pacify impudent little tykes, having just been given the go-ahead to use tasers on children.

No one wants a return of the campus unrest we witnessed during the 1960s and I'm sure everyone was pleased with the very passive reaction of the students at the UF event. Imagine a society where everyone was as calm and peaceful as the very well-behaved UF students were. It's easy if you try.

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Greg Laden said...

how do you know he was a student?

JasonC said...

i'm with you 110%, jon.

i might also mention that 9/11 may not have happened, either, if everyone on those plans had been armed with tasers. the terrorists would have either been tasered to death upon the first moment they presented a danger to the flights, or would have seen everyone with their tasers at their side and would have been forced to rethink their plans.

Kyle E. Moore said...

Isn't tasering covered by the Second Amendment anyway? Which, as everyone knows, is much more important than all the other amendments combined.

Anonymous said...

Yes, teachers should be allowed to taser unruly students. But students as well should cary tasers, and use them liberally on boring teachers.

walter said...

Someone should taser you, Jon.. for your own good of course.

Walter Ego

Dick Durata said...

I fear that you are getting soft, Jon. Tasering has its uses when indiscriminate gunfire might wound innocent Republicans, but in a room crowded with dangerous Democrats or even more so at a demonstration, lethal force in the form of a barrage of gunshots preserves order, punishes the wrong doer, and most importantly, gives a lesson that will not be forgotten to the community at large.
How many people would go to see Kerry the next time if the police had simply opened fire on the terrorist?
Modern gadgetry is seductive, but the good old ways remain our best hope of preserving law and order.

Kevin Hayden said...

Thank you, Jon. I only heard about it moments before i left to work and realized by the video that the police endangered a guy's life that 6 of them had already restrained. They were absolutely wrong and you've raised every point to define why.

At work, though, it kept bugging me. Then I heard that students cheered. And was Kerry close enough to really see what was transpiring?

Only 200 students showed up to march in protest? I guess today's UF students are a bunch of wussy robo-nazis, conditioned to accept nightsticks up the rectum and say "thank you Sir, may I have another?"

The night is falling fast in Amerika. At the very least, every student organization and student council at every college in the nation should be issuing condemnations.

nd if some people aren't disciplined for police brutality, I'd say it's time for pitchforks and torches, not some sissified response based on the fear that you might offend somebody.

The police acted criminally. Some students acted cowardly. That's not tinfoil theory, that's quite visible on video.

Masonry said...

If anyone thinks that we as Americans do not have right to ask ANY and ALL political leaders ANY question we want then go form naziland! We have turned into a facist nation. If we don't like what you say the Fatherland will shut you up.


LonewackoDotCom said...

It wouldn't be a classic Jon Swift post without at least a couple lies, namely:

1. Tancredo isn't opposed to immigration.

2. The issue is one of disparate treatment: those in prisons can be tasered, but not those in immigration detention facilities. One could oppose both, but that's not what Swift is doing.

mw said...

Jon, As a long time reader (well over three weeks), I have been persuaded by your fine writing to become a reasonable conservative myself. While I have announced my firm "intention" to convert to Republicanism (much as the maligned Larry Craig "intends" to resign from the Senate) I have not yet finalized my conversion. I must say Mr Meyer's performance in the video will hasten the process. I'm sure you must agree that a reasonable conservative would take a well deserved tasering like a man, whereas Mr. Meyer did a passable imitation of a stuck pig. I can no longer can be associated with the kind of effete liberalism demonstrated by Mr. Meyer. It was a truly embarrassing demonstration and the final straw for this unreasonable liberal.

Julia said...

Dude. The coveted Lonewacko endorsement.

I'm not so much a liberal as a DFH (I read it somewhere) but I don't have a problem condemning campus security tasering nonviolent offenders.

I do think it's interesting that quite a few of your usual suspects were very loud in the wake of Virginia Tech insisting that students be allowed to pack guns on campus to mete out vigilante justice, er, defend themselves and others.

Funny old world when eighteen year olds with a statistical propensity for binge drinking can be trusted to use deadly weapons with cool good judgment and campus law enforcement can't be trusted to use tasers (but only on conservatives).

Didn't agree with them then, and (now that they've changed their tune to support electrocuting liberals if they're uncivil) I don't agree with them now.

It's always nice to duck a contradiction, says I.

Ryan Hague said...

Jon, I appreciate the sarcasm. You're welcome back at my page anytime.

We Are The 801 said...


Thank you for pointing out the inconsistency on left as well as right blogs.

As a lefty myself, I was very dismayed to see a lot of blogs on the left act rather dismissively about this.

Thanks for pointing out this in your own charming satirical way!

As I mentioned on Mahablog, this is not a left issue, this is not a right issue. This is a police issue. I'm glad at least SOMEONE has the guts to point this out.

walter said...

Thanks for the link, Jon, but I wasn't 'confused' by the incident. I had it pegged correctly right off the bat. Some of the folks over on Daily Kos are still wringing their hands, though, still looking for the 'correct' response.

Kos Diarist Has Some 'Splaining To Do


Stan said...

"Imagine a society where everyone was as calm and peaceful as the very well-behaved UF students were. It's easy if you try."

Are you serious. I swear I thought this was a parody, first you cite the two changing attitudes of the conservative bloggers from one of outrage to one of acceptance, without a word about the hypocrisy.

Then you propose more tasing. This is condescending. The guy was not calm but he was peaceful, and he was engaged in political speech, which was effectively silenced.

I guess it's ok if a crazy liberal gets tased, you know if he's obnoxious, regardless of his rights, and of course for the calming of society, so they all fall in line should they upset authority.

This was a bad event for the blogosphere, just revealing that 90% of it consists of partisan hacks. At least you're consistent. You just support the arbitrary tasing of people deemed obnoxious by whoever. Come to think of it I thought your post was a bit obnoxious.

Stan said...

Ok, just give me the 'idiot of the day' award. I accept. I should slow down a bit while I read.

Anonymous said...

WOW!!! a place to go with no mention of OJ

Becky C. said...

I am 100% in against tasering obnoxious people, whether they are conservative, liberal or radically moderate.

I like the First Amendment much more than an orderly society run by bully little cops.

So I'd rather error in that direction.


mw said...

Well done Stan. Jon Swift Whiplash Syndrome (JSWS) is a chronic condition suffered by newbie commenters here. Very few struck by this malady manage to post a retraction without an intervening comment.

Six minutes - impressive - that may be a record.

Still, I am not sure whether this accomplishment should be solely attributed to your quick reversal, or whether we are seeing the first indication of slowing reflexes in an aging Swiftian commenter base.

kinch said...

I got half way through your post, and realized you ramble on too much. I'm going to taser you, to show who's boss.

Buck Batard said...

These taser people are just not good marketers. Jon, I'm sure as a good conservative you know and were raised on the the old Bible verse "spare the rod and spoil the child". Conservatives live by the wisdom that's in the Good Book.

The Taser people really need to start making the tasers in the shape of a rod.

Think of the marketing opportunities!

Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell's son could start giving rod shaped tasers with an appropriate donation to the flock.

No wonder the taser stock is in the dumps. Obviously liberals run the company or they would have thought of this genius marketing scheme long before now.

And of course, God would highly approve.

new day said...

Jon, Jon, Jon, you are proposing half-measures here. We should require each child to wear a backpack containing five 2-pound battery-operated devices, each connected to an electrode attached to the skin. These should be worn even while showering and sleeping. Then we can watch them on 24 hour survellance cameras and shock them from a distance when we see behavior of which we do not approve.

Oh wait, it looks like someone else had this idea first. It seems this progressive school even has further measures at the ready in case the backpack therapy is not enough.

On several occasions, Rob was tied facedown to a four-point restraint board and shocked over and over again by a person he couldn't see. The constant threat of being zapped did persuade him to act less aggressively, but at a high cost. "I thought of killing myself a few times," he says.

As you can see, the aggression was shocked right out of this boy who was found abandoned at birth with a body full of drugs. It also appears to be working on willful and unruly retarded and autistic children.

See the latest issue of Mother Jones for more on this exciting therapy...or google the Rotenberg Center.

Anonymous said...

Have we learned nothing from the Virginia Tech shootings?
Surely all reasonable Americans must agree that our Constitutional right to freedom of speech is too important to leave in the hands of local law enforcement officers. If that student, and the rest of the student audience had been carrying their hand guns this would have played out much differently. A few dead or wounded campus Police, (and possibly some collateral damage) would have been a small price to pay for the preservation of our rights.
your friend,

Porlock Junior said...

I'm a bit shocked that a genuine Second Amendment fan should find it necessary to remain anonymous. This is an excellent statement of the true basis of the the Amendment di Tutti Amendimenti: that the citizens need to carry heat so they can off the jack-booted thugs who work for the Government.

Ah, if only Timothy Leary had applied the principle, and taken G. Gordon Liddy's advice on where to shoot Federal officers when they show up at the door, then the raid on his place, led by Federal Officer G. Gordon Liddy, would have had a different effect on the nation's history.

Bukko_in_Australia said...

Buck, Buck, Buck! You say the Taser people should develop electric shock devices shaped like rods? Are you sure you're not an effete urban liberal posing as a conservative? Because good ol' country conservatives all have heard of cattle prods.

Malagent said...

re "if you don't count the 148 people who have died from being tasered"

Of those 148 people exactly 148 of them had some other reason for the death such as drugs. To my knowledge (and I have looked a lot) there has never been a single death certificate issued with a taser listed as even a major factor in the cause of death. Compare that with other methods used to subdue subjects and see what you find.

It's kind of like saying automobiles caused the death in car accidents, it may be a factor but it's not the cause.

If someone has actual factual information to prove me wrong I would love to see it.

Malagent said...

[Although tasers do reportedly hurt -- a lot]

That's very true, it's extremely unpleasant. Interestingly enough though when it's over it really is over, just a few milliseconds later you would hardly even know it happened. When people mention the repeated taser deployments on subjects it should be interesting to think why a person would not simply comply and not get it again.

I know if one used on my I would do whatever they said.

Anonymous said...

I think tasering is a good thing, but when I see some of the videos of people being tasered, the ones that look like they really didn't do enough to get tasered it really makes me angry.

The Sailor said...

Malagent sez:" [TASERs] are very unpleasant"

yes, dying is very unpleasant.

here is a case of TASERs being the proximal cause, and a little more research would have sent you these examples.

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