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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Wanted: A Compliant Public (Or Else!)

"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget ye were our countrymen."

Samuel Adams

Why have Americans become sow cowed, so willing to go along to get along? Will we stand up for anything? Is there any level of corruption and inhumanity that will ignite the righteous indignation of a docile citizenry? Searching the headlines for cases of excessive force and brutality perpetrated by our so-called public servants reveals that police forces around our country expect, above all else, unquestioning compliance. It is clear that the federalization of law enforcement has ingrained officers with the us against them mentality. Although we are forced to pay their salaries and pensions (which are now well above that of the general public), many police strut around suburban and small town USA wearing their body armor, as if they are patrolling Baghdad or the fictional Farmington neighborhood from the popular FX series "The Shield." Although even the freest society requires a mechanism for enforcing the rule of law, the law (like government more generally) has become too omnipotent in society today. We must demand a change in posture from those in positions of law enforcement.
The media and popular culture have glorified the badge, teaching a highly suggestible public that the police are above reproach. Moreover, society tells its youth that rather than achieving wealth and earning influence in life, a badge is a quick way to gain authority over others. It is not a stretch to assume that this draws some of the darker elements of society into law enforcement. Despite an attempt to weed out the bad seeds through the process of psychological testing, they are clearly on the streets. The culture must change if we are to have police who do not join the force for the sheer power that the badge provides. We need peace officers who are students of natural rights and the constitution, not an army of shock troops stopping people and demanding compliance!
Rather than an alternative to the use of deadly force, the taser has become an oppressor's method of obtaining pain compliance. In total disregard for the 8th Amendment, law enforcement agencies across the land carry this portable electroshock weapon. The taser has killed hundreds in the US alone, often because of multiple or repeated shocks from trigger happy police. Indeed, many are subjected to shocks for simply questioning or disagreeing with an officer. It will probably take many hundred more outrageous deaths before authorities realize that power mad cops cannot be trusted to exhibit the discernment and restraint required to use such a device. As shown on the PSW map, the Cedar Falls (Iowa) police department is now equipped with a taser shotgun that they're likely itching to try out. These supposedly less-lethal munitions are likely to continue seeing widespread deployment in our communities unless we speak out now! In creating the Police State map, I have sought to publicize particularly aggregious cases of taser misuse: most recently the cases of Rolando Ruiz in Minneapolis and Glen Wilcox in Alaska. I do not call out police for using tasers against those fighting or resisting arrest, but we are seeing too many cases of an officer being too lazy to chase a suspect or simply punishing a citizen for "talking back".
Using pain (ie. tasers) to obtain compliance = T O R T U R E ! ! !