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Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism

To dissolve, submerge, and cause to disappear the political or governmental system in the economic system by reducing, simplifying, decentralizing and suppressing, one after another, all the wheels of this great machine, which is called the Government or the State. --Proudhon, General Idea of the Revolution

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Location: Northwest Arkansas, United States

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Taser Tuesday: Too Close to Home

Gretchen Ross at Green Lantern has been carrying a Taser Tuesday feature for a long time now, but unfortunately the issue just hit her on a more personal level. Her sister, returning to Canada from a trip to the States, had a nasty experience with the jackboots of the U.S. Border Patrol. Throughout the experience, she remained painfully aware of the thug's grip on his 50,000 volt taser. I don't know what cops are like in Canada, but I'm sorry Gretchen's sister had to learn firsthand what twenty-odd years of Drug War militarization has done to U.S. law enforcement. In all too many communities, they view themselves as an occupying force, a band of brothers surrounded by a hostile population. That was exactly the recipe for My Lai.

If you think I'm being overly dramatic, check out Gretchen's Taser Tuesday archives. You can find all sorts of utterly horrifying stuff in the regular "Who the Police Beat" feature, in Fred Woodworth's periodical The Match!* The causes of the problem are discussed in an article by Cato's Diane Cecilia Weber: "Warrior Cops: The Ominous Growth of Paramilitarism in American Police Departments"

And if you think that thing about an occupying force in a hostile population was too over-the-top, just read this quote from Weber's article:

We’re into saturation patrols in hot spots. We do a lot of our work with the SWAT unit because we have bigger guns. We send out two, two-to-four-men cars, we look for minor violations and do jump-outs, either on people on the street or automobiles. After we jump-out the second car provides periphery cover with an ostentatious display of weaponry. We’re sending a clear message: if the shootings don’t stop, we’ll shoot someone.

You know that scene in the opening of Escape From New York, where the U.S. national police, in Nazi Chic black uniforms, pile out of the black cruiser? It ain't fiction any more. I saw a story a few years ago in my local newspaper about how the cops here were switching to black uniforms, as part of a national trend. Supposedly the reason was that it was hard to find stable suppliers for various shades of gray and blue, but black was always in stock somewhere. But somebody from a local police force also added, helpfully, that people tended to show more "respect" to a guy dressed like a Sturmbannfuhrer. "Respect," indeed. The Prussianization of our culture proceeds apace. It's only a matter of time till we're showing the kind of respect that civilians showed in Berlin ca. 1900, stepping off the sidewalk when they saw anyone in uniform.

My dad was a cop, and a good friend of mine is a cop now. But every time I see a police cruiser behind me, I get real nervous. And if it follows me through a couple of turns, I just about go ballistic. I know my dad was a good man. I don't know these guys, and an awful lot of people are attracted to the uniform for the same reasons as Dim in A Clockwork Orange. As jittery as cops are nowadays (what with the hostile occupied population and all), you never know when they'll interpret the wrong kind of nervous eye-twitch as "aggressive behavior" or "resisting arrest" and taser you about 47 times or so--and then taser you some more for "not obeying instructions," because you're too busy convulsing in agony. And if anything happens, unless you're lucky enough to be videotaped, it's your word versus theirs. They'll probably throw as many charges as possible at you to blackmail you into copping a guilty plea. As somebody once said in a comment thread over at Eschaton, I'm starting to feel like I'm in a Paul Verhoeven movie based on a Phillip K. Dick novel.

Here's Gretchen's comment from her newsletter:

As a side note, when an American police officer approaches you with a taser, it doesn't matter that you've done nothing wrong. It doesn't matter if you have a reasonable and legal explanation. You don't argue, you don't talk about your rights, unless you want to risk getting 50 thousand volts, possibly consecutive times.

They taser people for absolutely nothing now, so these people who foolishly believe they are free get upset and start talking about the bill of rights. These people are only making their own hospital bed when they do that. This isn't your great grandfather's America. You fall out of line in the slightest, and you might get tazed. Which, judging by over 103 cases of taser related deaths, might kill you.

Now, if you're prepared to be tasered over nothing, and risk injury and death, by all means, bring up your rights. But if you like having voluntary control over your own muscles, and particulary if you enjoy being alive, just bend over and take it for your country's freedom. Do as you're told, citizen.
* The Match! P.O. Box 3012, Tucson, AZ 85702. Free for the asking, but send a $5 (cash) donation per issue.


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