I've been watching in horror ever since the Taser first hit my radar a decade or so ago. I mean, all we need in this country is more ways to do bodily injury to people and get away with it. (Tasers are legal to carry -- open or concealed -- in 43 states!) But obviously, my main attention has been focused on the fascist way law enforcement officers have tended to use these tools of torture. Even Amnesty International, citing more than 300 deaths by Taser since 2001 (which averages out to about one death per week, by the way), has called for police to severely limit or suspend their use.
And no wonder. Just off the top of my head, I can recall a whole string of cases in less than a year. A 21-year-old last July; a 15-year-old in March; a 16-year-old in April; and even the near misses can do lasting damage, as indicated by the case of a 14-year-old in February. At least one branch of the NAACP is seeking information for an investigation it's doing on excessive use of Tasers. And AfroSpear announced a Day of Blogging for Justice in April, calling death by Taser "pre-trial, extra-judicial execution." In addition, a new blog, Electrocuted While Black, tracks and reports on the issue of Taser use and abuse.
Numbing U.S. citizens to the use of force resulting in "accidental" deaths ought to be reminding us of Nazi Germany, when the population was trained fairly quickly to accept whatever happened to "other people" until it started happening to everybody and it was too late to put on the brakes. Anyone that has done even a cursory exploration of history knows better than to believe the assumption that if you just "keep your nose clean," you don't have to worry about those with the Power-To-Define, including in this case, the police, who get to define these situations and their outcomes in ways that make the question "Am I not human?" moot.