Taser Nation

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the Black Agenda Report

Taser Nation

Apparently there are ticking time bombs on every block, in every town across the country. Bar fights, traffic stops and other ordinary forms of disruptive behavior cannot be allowed to go unchecked. Time is wasting and someone has to be tortured quickly if we are all to be kept safe.

The proto-fascist direction of the nation is now enveloping people who never saw themselves as the targets of state terror, that is to say, white people. Black people were always victims of police brutality. White people either approved or may have even felt sorry for Negroes but just didn't care enough. They didn't think the same treatment would ever be meted out to them.

Now thanks to video cameras and You Tube, everyone is now a witness to the trickle down movement of police brutality. If the president and vice president and Congress determine that torture is acceptable for some, inevitably it becomes acceptable for all.

The argument being made by presidential candidates and law professors is that torture is fine as long as the circumstances are right. Like script writers for bad movies they all envision a "ticking time bomb" scenario. The bomb ticks, a terrorism suspect is nabbed, and voila, we have ways of making him talk. While Arabs and Muslims are the targets of the movie fantasy moment, the jack boot of the state does not isolate itself, but instead makes victims of anyone unfortunate enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Police brutality and selective prosecutions are not new. The old fashioned billy club was the low tech weapon of yesteryear. Now that physical torture has been championed by the White House, instead of being practiced in the basements of police precincts, everyone is at risk. It just isn't possible for abuse to be legitimized against one group.

In recent months there has been a spate of news stories, with horrific video to match, showing police officers using Tasers to subdue harmless people. In Warren, Ohio a cop used one of the stun guns on a handcuffed woman. A Utah highway cop grew so annoyed with a blonde, blue eyed, white man who wouldn't sign a traffic citation, that he gave him the 50,000 voltage jolt just to teach him who was boss.

None of these cops seemed to care that the video cameras mounted on their cars noted their every act and comment. In the Utah case, the itchy trigger fingered cop openly bragged to a colleague, "He took a ride with the Taser." His friend replied jokingly for posterity, "Painful, isn't it?".

The United Nations Committee Against Torture has announced that Tasers constitute a form of torture. It is little wonder their usage has proliferated in Bushland. According to a 2006 Amnesty International report, more than 150 Americans died after Tasers were used against them. It is also not surprising that shooting human beings with jolts of electricity has now become militarized.

The Defense Department has developed a "pain ray" that will be used for crowd control in Iraq. The scarily named Active Denial System (ADS) was created by the Raytheon corporation. (It is an article of faith among the Bushites that nothing happens unless it sends loads of cash in the direction of defense contractors.) Torture has moved from low tech, water boarding, to high tech, rays that burn the skin. Bombs and bullets are now passe for Iraqis, Uncle Sam wants them to suffer in new and different ways.

Meanwhile back at the ranch in the United States, a local NAACP branch in Maryland has called for a suspension of Taser use. Two black men were recently attacked with police stun guns and one died. The original victim group remains victimized, even as the terror spreads around the country and across the globe.

The occupation of foreign lands, and the attacks on civil liberties at home and abroad lead down the same old road. At every level of government, anyone wearing a uniform gains the right to assault and to kill. A weary and distracted public becomes less and less likely to fight back. At the very least we have You Tube to reveal those occasions when the petty dictators decide to teach a lesson. As the Utah highway cop tells his victim, "You wouldn't follow my instructions." That is all the rest of us need to know. Follow instructions and you'll be safe, if you're lucky.

Margaret Kimberley

Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.Com.

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