Thursday, September 06, 2007


Odd that this should pop up right when I'm digging into writing me some cyberpunk. Tasers are technology shaped like a dream-come-true - a terrible threat that does no real harm, power held with no consequences for the powerless. Except, of course, that we live in the real world, and the corpses are piling up and up.

But that's alright, because they're only used in really tough situations where the only other option would be to use a gun, right? All those corpses are bad people? Right?

There is also evidence to suggest that, far from being used to avoid lethal force, many US police agencies are deploying tasers as a routine force option to subdue non-compliant or disturbed individuals who do not pose a serious danger to themselves or others. In some departments, tasers have become the most prevalent force tool. They have been used against unruly schoolchildren; unarmed mentally disturbed or intoxicated individuals; suspects fleeing minor crime scenes and people who argue with police or fail to comply immediately with a command. Cases described in this report include the stunning of a 15-year-old schoolgirl in Florida, following a dispute on a bus, and a 13- year-old girl in Arizona, who threw a book in a public library.

So, being aware of taser-related corpsepiles already, I was pretty stunned by that chief constable's attitude. "What was it like? Not pleasant, is the answer.[...] I was completely incapable of movement. I would have fallen if I hadn't been supported by my colleagues. I very strongly advise you, if faced by an officer and a Taser, that you follow the instructions of the nice police officer, because you will not enjoy the consequences of disobedience."

Um. That's a pretty dim exercise of power there. I guess when you're the hand behind the trigger, you don't see the need to say "What was it like? Not pleasant, is the answer. I and the others who have the power to do this will use it only as a last resort, will not make idle threats with it, will not treat it as if it is harmless and without consequences, and will not bully the difficult or the incapable with it."

And I'm the hand behind the pen, and have the responsibility of exploring these issues in cyberpunk, which I shall.

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