Howard Hyde had schizophrenia and some violent behavior led to his arrest by Halifax police. I think tasers are dangerous and they’re used to force compliance (which is torture). I think the main effect of these devices is to terrorize the public into submission because people now expect tasers to be used (more likely than guns). This is inappropriate for a society that is based on the idea of government as servant of the people – and I don’t think government and the police have that idea in mind.
How do we hold them accountable? This is the age-old problem or power. Someone gets out of line because of his mental illness and he ends up dying. What’s the function of the police? To defend rights or violate them in the name of authority?
And look at all the arbitrary laws (and some legitimate ones) we have to obey and the different stumbling blocks we can trip over that can lead to someone calling the police. Is there justice for both sides? Are the police following due process before they hurt someone? There is already a power imbalance between disarmed public and armed police, with a massive government apparatus and web of laws backing up the police – and tasers are making this imbalance much worse.
It doesn’t make sense – do police forces exist to protect the public with proportional response to genuine threats or to enforce “authority” through terror? English bobbies didn’t even carry guns in the past. All we hear are the techno-babble sales pitches and excuses – but people are reacting to these taser events because of this deeper power imbalance.
November 23rd, 2007