Tasering incidents have gone so mainstream.
Before, it would take a high profile incident like a University of Florida student trying to ask John Kerry some hard questions – only to end up getting Tased and carted away – to generate any national news coverage.
And that was only because the student’s final words – “Don’t Tase me, bro” – were turned into a national punchline.
But nobody is laughing now.
Americans are beginning to realize that all they have to do is catch the cop on the wrong day at the wrong time and they can wind up with 50,000 volts of electricity ripping through their body.
Get in an argument with your girlfriend? You get a Taser stuck up your ass.
Grandma disputes a traffic ticket with a cop? She gets Tasered on the side of the road.
Grandpa insists on driving his tractor during a parade? He gets Tasered repeatedly.
Teen daughter throws a tantrum over the guys she is texting? She gets Tasered on the side of the head.
The latest Tasering incident to make national news, including The Today Show, involved a suburban mother who was Tasered in front of her kids because she disputed a traffic ticket. She is now suing.
The irony is that these devices were introduced as “less lethal weapons,” meaning that they were meant to be used as a replacement for guns. When police began using them ten years ago, they predicted that they would kill less people because they now had the ability to torture people instead.
But if there has been a decline in officer-involved shootings over the last decade, nobody is bringing that fact to the limelight, which indicates there has not been a decline. A search through the FBI website will promptly tell you how many cops were killed, but they make you file a Freedom of Information request if you want to find out how many people were killed by cops throughout the country over the last few years.
And the truth is, Taser guns are anything but less than lethal. Between 2001 and 2008, more than 350 people died after being Tasered by police, according to Amnesty International.
About 50 a year. Almost one death a week.
Last Saturday, one of the most influential Hispanic organizations in the United States, the League of United Latin American Organizations, called for the end of Taser guns in police departments across the country, claiming that the blacks and Hispanics are the most common groups Tasered.
And the BBC yesterday published a piece on how Taser incidents have been on the rise in the United Kingdom.
In the latter three articles, police spokespeople from three different countries all defended the use of Tasers as vital for the safety of citizens.
Canadian official: “When properly used in appropriate situations, by officers who are well trained, the (Taser) is a useful tool, that contributes to officer and public safety.”
UK official: “They are making a real difference on our streets and helping to keep both the public and our police officers safe.”
Albuquerque official: “The department feels it’s a good tool, it keeps the officer safe, it keeps the citizens safe and it saves lives.”
Who do they think they are kidding?