Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Am I Not Human?

It's the 27th again and time to post on human rights with the folks at AfroSpear. And, as a matter of fact, in keeping with another of AfroSpear's recent campaigns, I'm going to take this opportunity to post on Tasering in particular as a human rights violation disproportionately -- though not only -- perpetrated against people of color in situations patently uncalled for. I received an email from the African American Political Pundit recently about a petition AfroSpear has generated to call for a Congressional hearing on the use of these weapons and I most assuredly concur with their concerns.

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.

4 comments:

Sorrow said...

some times I get so tired...
the whole" pay no attention to the man behind the curtain" mentality just makes me so insane.
sigh
a wonderful post as always...

Changeseeker said...

I couldn't agree more, Sorrow. I use the Wizard of Oz curtain scene so often as an example, it becomes redundant. And folks laugh and nod...and move on as if it really doesn't matter. While hellfire and brimstone are on their way. I don't get it. And, yes, it makes me tired, as well. Your kind words are always balm on sore wounds.

Villager said...

Excellent information for your blog readers. We need to get a handle on the taser torture that results in 21 deaths in USA so far this year...

Changeseeker said...

I'm really glad you're highlighting this issue, Villager. I am increasingly horrified by the stories about Taser use in the U.S. now. And it seems as if people are being "ho-hum" about it, which I think is lacking in compassion, stupid and even dangerous. I don't want anyone doing anything to ANYONE that I wouldn't want to experience myself.