Skip to comments.The Taserification of America
Posted on 05/06/2010 9:22:20 PM PDT by The Magical Mischief Tour
Unless you've been living in a Waziristan cave for the last 24 years, you've heard about the unfortunate misdemeanor-breaking dude who got Tasered at a Phillies game at Citizens Bank Park last night. My computer screen here in Center City went all a-Twitter about it even before all the electrons had even stopped flowing through 17-year-old suburban high school senior Steve Consalvi.
My gut instinct when I first learned of it was the same as I feel about it a day later: That while it wasn't exactly a Rodney King affair, clearly the officer had used excessive force. I've been watching baseball games for more than 40 years, and the drills is always the same. The fan isn't trying to do harm, just get attention; it used to be that the TV cameras never even showed a field-jumper for exactly that reason, back before ESPN needed an endless stream of fodder for its "Top 10 Plays."
People forget that the whole justification for police to get Tasers in the first place was to subdue potentially violent suspects in cases in the past in which they might have been tempted to use lethal force. But the notion that the cops would have pulled a gun and shot 17-year-old field jumper Steve Consalvi is absurd, which means the rationale for tasing him is...what? There's something oddly funny about zapping a fellow human for some reason, but Tasers are no joke to the loved ones of the estimated 50 people who died because of their use.
Consalvi didn't have the risk factors of most of those killed or injured -- he is young, health, and wasn't drunk or on drugs. But he still -- while committing a misdemeanor, let's remember -- was subjected to the brief, intense pain of 50,000 volts of electricty. There was a simpler, quainter time when causing pain to another person was called...violence.
I guess that quaint time was America before 9/11 -- after which for some reason we lost all sense of proportionality on how to respond to various levels of wrongdoing. After my low-key blog suggestion that Tasering a mildly lawbreaking fan wasn't a great idea, I got an email from a reader. He said, in part: "Were you there last night? I was. Idiots like that are unpredictable at best! The days of Morgana (sic) the kissing bandit are gone. We live in a post 911 world." I don't mean to be harsh to the emailer -- he actually made some decent points about security entering Citizens Bank Park.
But I also had to wonder: Must we see every single act of wrongdoing, even minor ones, through the prism of 9/11? Is a fan running on a field in the same ballpark with killing nearly 3,000 people? What has happened to us in this country. Did anyone call for stun-gunning "Morganna the kissing bandit" in the 1970s because we lived in "a post-JFK assassination world" and that maybe she had a concealed weapon inside of those, um. concealed weapons. Of course not. Americans have changed..and not for the better.
Make no mistake -- the 9/11 attacks were the most cowardly acts of pure evil ever committed on U.S. soil -- but the American ideals of civil liberties should be so sacrosanct they should not have been unduly violated even for the people who planned and executed 9/11, but of course they were at Guantanamo and with the John Yoo-justified torture regime that was expanded to many people who had nothing to do with 9/11 and eventually to people who were innocent of any crime altogether.
But even more damaging is the way that attitude -- that any kind of lawbreaking or even potential lawbreaking requires the harshest possible response, with no regard to more than 200 years of momentum toward basic civil liberties and human rights -- is filtering down to other aspects of American life. Exhibit A is what's happening in Arizona.
Let's be honest -- although there are some very bad apples scattered in there, the vast majority of undocumented immigrants are the Steve Consalvis of the American political debate. They've jumped over a fence and are running around on the field of national economy, and just like Consalvi they've broken a law but also aren't a threat to cause serious injury (especially with studies that show undocumented migrants have a low crime rate and tend to even pay more in taxes than they get back in services).
The response from the majority of Arizonans and many Americans is no longer to work toward a mature solution like real immigration reform that would view these humans as what the pre-soul-dead Sen. John McCain of the mid-2000s once called "God's children," but to use a totalitarian-tinged "papers please" brand of racial profiling in order to round up as many of these "illegals" (Note: actions are "illegal," not people -- sad that that even needs to be spelled out in 2010) as possible, even separating them from their children. The chief offender is Phoenix's "Sheriff Joe" Arpaio, who makes his predominately Latino inmate population swelter in a brutal tent city in the pink underwear he issues them. Many of his inmates would probably prefer to be tased.
And when you voted for change in 2008, you thought you were ushering in a presidency of Barack Obama, not the era of Draco, the Greek lawgiver.
Which brings us to Times Square and the failed car bombing. This is the second time in less than a year that a young man apparently inspired by some warped brand of Islamic extremism attempted attacks that would kill a large number of Americans. It's alarming and upsetting that anyone is trying -- however ineptly -- to kill so many innocent people. However, our current draconian rules of political discourse practically prevent us from even suggesting that these attacks be looked at as not quite exactly the same thing as 9/11, which after all was a well-planned attack with 19 trained perpetrators.
The failed Times Square car bombing and the failed airplane underwear bomber over Detroit were poorly planned events by young, naive individuals that, even combined, did not harm or kill a single individual; they were quite serious crimes nonetheless -- and they were both handled and properly investigated with remarkable skill and speed by the law-enforcement structures we already have in place -- that is, police and federal law-enforcement like the FBI -- who followed normal procedures, all applicable laws, and honored the U.S. Constitution. We also worked cooperatively with a foreign power with whom we've sometimes had a rocky relationship -- Pakistan -- to round up additional suspects in the Times Square case.
And the response of some of our top political leaders today has not congratulatory toward good police work or a criminal justice system that at times can still be the envy of the world -- but rather anger and disappointment...that the suspect's Constitutional rights were not violated. Even though Faisal Shahzad is a naturalized American citizen accused of felony crimes under U.S. law, some lawmakers were furious that authorities followed the law and read Shahzad his Miranda rights regarding self-incrimination (which hasn't stopped him from a confession or providing information, by the way).
One of those critics, of course, was John McCain, who said Mirandizing Shahzad "would be a serious mistake...at least until we find out as much information we have." Ironically, it fell upon right-wing media icon Glenn Beck to point out that the Times Square case was no time to "shred the Constitution." The main point here is a rather obvious -- when an anything-for-ratings entertainer like Beck is the voice of reason, then democracy is rolling seriously off the rails.
But this is increasingly who we are in 2010 -- an unforgiving nation where you can be zapped with 50,000 volts for a minor transgression, where you might be stopped on an Arizona street corner for having brown skin or speaking with the wrong kind of accent, and where citizens who are accused but not convicted of a crime are no longer all equal under the law. It is a nation where we are suddenly all Steve Consalvi every time we get up from our seats of conformity, never knowing where a new shock to our system might come from.
Call it a "post 911 world" if you want, but I would call it the slow, sad Taserification of America. At least on the green grass of left field in South Philadelphia, it was all out in the open for a change, for all of us to see.
While I do not agree with the political slant to the article I do agree that our law enforcement in this country is borderline out of control.
Well we could always bring back Roman Gladiators to keep folks like you entertained.
Who knew the ump was packin’?
We could also feed those accused of jay walking to the lions while were at it...
Best not to break the law, I suppose.
I am just plain damn tired of criminals.
I don’t care if they’re in Congress or running on the field in Philly. I want them in jail and I don’t give a damn if the police officer has to taser them to slap cuffs on them.
I wonder how many residents of Florida there are that hasn’t been tazed yet.
It seems the cops down there have been shock crazy the past 10 years.
If some clown ever tazed me i would track him down eventually and make sure his life is not so good.
ya know, after that ignorant bastard forced himself to projectile vomit on a Philadelphia Police Officer and his 11 year old daughter at a Phillies game a couple of weeks ago, this kid is lucky he didn’t get zapped by half a dozen tasers.
There are consequences for one’s actions, and the earlier kids these days learn that lesson, even if they insist on learning it the hard way, the better off they will be in the long run and the longer they will live.
Knowing how to behave in a civilized manner can often make the difference between life and death.
I don’t think the cop over-reacted. They were chasing down and attempting to remove a person who was disrupting a baseball game for thousands of other people. Who knows how long it would have taken to catch the guy, tackle him and possibly injure him physically tackling him, and having the exact same people who are bitching about him being tasered, bitch about excessive use of force catching the guy a different way.
People who do this are attention whores breaking the law. They have no right to do it I have no problem with how they were able to remove this person from his “Hey look at me!” moment and get the ball game going again for the rest of the people who came there to watch THAT, not this putz, in peace.
don’t taze me brow
So acting up in public is now a crime punishable by summary execution carried out immediately by uniformed executioners of the state, on the spot?
Wow.. welcome to Germany circa. 1933
Just Philly being Philly..
Well, somehow ballpark personnel has been able to handle this situation for 100 years without the tazer.
Besides, everytime i’ve been to a ballgame and some clown runs on the feild the fans seem to love it.
I remember being at a Red Sox game around 1986 or so. the Sox were like 15 games out of first.
It was pathetic, even 15 games out Fenway always sells out.
There must of been like 7 guys running out there during the game.
The game itself was a joke and the fans seemed to love it.
Next thing you know i will be tazed just for laughing.
Let me set out the reality: Law enforcement has no way of determining in the moment whether any unauthorized person on the field is just an idiot kid or a potential terrorist (see Times Square Bomber, suicide bombers, or the lunatic who knifed Steffi Graf).
The taser brings down the idiot quick and with no permanent damage.
Just watch the George Lucas-directed 1971 sci-fi film called, “THX 1138.” In it the robocops use cattle prods to keep the population in check. Tasers are just human versions of cattle prods.
I would support tasers if they used them on politicians and bureaucrats, but they don’t. They are an instrument for intimidating the population. The cops are going to have to decide whose side they are on.
He tries to drag in Bush era torture when, by now, most people understand that cutting off people's heads is torture; making them wear women's underwear isn't.
He gets off the snappy one-liner that "people aren't illegal" and thinks he's really got us. Of course, he's referring to illegal... I think the term is "aliens" and in fact, yes, people can be aliens and when they are trespassing in someone else's territory they would be "illegal aliens". Aliens, you see, who are trespassing and hence, illegally so.
Is it totalitarian to ask foreign visitors to show their identification? Maybe it is in his on-line Civ simu-world, but in the real world, in every country in the world foreigners are required to carry their passports and produce them on demand. And in the countries most of our visitors come from, even citizens are required to carry their national ID and produce it on demand. The people he hates to call "illegal" know this because thats where they are from. Furthermore it doesn't hurt their feelings to call them illegal because they know they are illegal.
If he goes to visit the country of their birth he had better carry his papers with him while he's there.
I only skimmed the article.
I did see the incident at hand and have read MANY tazer horror stories.
Tazers definitely have their purpose, it seems though that many are abusing that purpose.
It's not snappy it's moronic. If there is a law banning you from a place without authorization and you are in that place illegally you are illegally there. Hence if you are a person then you are an illegal person. Yes Sparky (author of article) people can be illegal.
Was that a cop who tazed him?
If not I would track that guy down and lay a a MAJOR beating on him.
And i was never a violent guy before 2008.
Why not just let all of the undocumented baseball players on the field? While we're at it, let's spread around the legal baseball players’, refs’, umps’ and bat boys’, as well as the fans’, salaries to the undocumented ones. If any of the undocumented trip on the field, they also deserve an expensive sports doc, an ambulance and whatever treatment is necessary, all for free, of course. After all, they paid some tax on the refreshments and the tickets (if they didn't sneak in).
All in all, we should simply stop stopping people from being where we think they don't belong; what do rules mean anyway? How dare we not trust a person with unknown intentions running (and running and running) somewhere he wasn't supposed to be!
Recall the 1980 Phillies. I found a Youtube video of the final out of the World Series, which included a shot of some police K-9 teams behind home plate ( noted by the announcer, ) but I didn’t find what I was looking for. That is, a shot of the mounted police patrolling the warning track en masse. I’m guessing this was at the end of one of the playoff series. This was widely viewed at the time as a fascistic display, but nobody got tased, and nobody even THOUGHT about running on to the field. Of course this was under Mayor Frank Rizzo.
It was a police officer who Tasered the young man.
The gleeful reaction to the tasering of that young man is as sickening as the tasering itself.
There is some serious lack of humanity going on here.
But I think this has to do with the feminization of the police force. Most women weren't capable of taking down a big male suspect so they gave them tools and new rules of engagement so they could. Once new tools and rules were introduced, everyone has to do the same... That lowest common denominator thing...
But I could be wrong...
All right then.....
I remember being 18 years old back in 1985.
I was working sporting goods at the local Lechmere department store.
An asian guy came up to me and my buddy and showed us a hand held tazer weapon.
Giant sparks from 2 AA batteries or a 9 volt, i forget.
We were amazed.
Then i learned how to build a much stronger one.....
never used it on a person though.
We did shock some kids in electronics class with giant capacitors.....
That was fun.
I kinda agree with you, that the police as a whole seem to be more fearful of doing the job and as a byproduct only seem comfortable when at invasion force level numbers or approaching every situation with a gun in their hands.
And they seem all too quick to use deadly force for lesser and lesser crimes, all in the name of “officer safety”. When the national stats clearly show their occupation is one of the safest one’s you can get.
Don't call me brow, bro! I'm gonna taze ya!
I agree with you. And if that was his only point I'd have agreed with him. I'm seeing the same thing more and more. Its like a new toy and they've just got to try it out. Officer thinks you're a bit mouthy, down you go.
Now, junior high school teachers, thats another thing. It should be considered basic equipment.
Peoples imagination takes a hold when they think of getting stunned by one of these weapons.
Akin to the fear a kid has when gets his first vacinations. Your brain sykes you out.
You are right on, but you left out affimative action, law suits from physical takedowns, and junkies with contaminated Aids needles, and many other things.
So were those the good old days.. or what.....
run out on the field, disrupt the game for tens of thousands of people — good grief I can’t believe anyone would whine about him getting his butt tased. Probably deserved a few whacks with a nightstick as well just to remind him the next day not to be such a fool again.
Let's assume I'm a cop. I'm chasing some guy of unknown mental stability, with the intent of subduing and arresting him. I can either tackle him at risk of injury to myself if he decides to put up a fight, or I can Taser him and have no risk of injuring myself. Hmmm, I think I'm going to Taser him.
If you give a cop a device than will bring down a perp, and using the device has no career-damaging effects on the cop (unlike shooting the perp with a real gun would), the cop will use his little handy device at every opportunity.
I agree, a leftist screed. This is the same mentality that says it’s OK for illegals to run across the border.
Why bother stopping anybody from doing anything? I guess we should just all sit back and enjoy the anarchy show. Probably more exciting than the baseball game.
As another Freeper said on a thread earlier this week, watching that cop chase down and taser that guy was like watching an episode of "Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom." I loved it!
A situation has to be handled with respect to the potential it presents. Once the officers were in pursuit of the guy they were responsible for the outcome of the incident. In retrospect the use of the taser seems a bit over-reaching. But if he had pulled a knife and stabbed a player or official the officers would have been roundly criticized.
We have completely lost the idea that when someone does something they, and they alone, are responsible for what happens to them. This kid could avoided all of this by either not running onto the field, or not making them chase him.
As for tackling him those who advocate that have probably seen too many movies and TV shows. It's not as simple a matter as presented in the script, especially for an officer wearing a good deal of equipment.
Nope, the guy set the whole thing in motion and presented the cops with a potentially dangerous situation. They responded based on the worst that could happen, it frequently costs them dearly to respond based on the best they could expect.
In retrospect, the officer could have handled the situation without the taser. But it's darn hard to chase someone on foot and at the same time get out your retrospectrocope and determine what you're really facing.
I don’t know if it has to do with the feminization of the force, although that’s an interesting point to bring up and could be contributing to the taser-happy attitude which seems to be the rule today.
What concerns me a little more was the fact that no security personnel were able to outrun the kid and tackle him? Granted, the kid isn’t wearing a utility belt with 10-20 pounds of tools on it like a police officer but it seems at least one officer or security guy would have been fit enough to chase him down.
It reminds me of the story a short while ago where a suspect was fleeing from a pursuing officer. Turns out the officer was a marathon runner and was able to keep up. The suspect eventually just gave up when he realized that he would tire out before the officer would.
That’s not what I said at all. Please try again...
Sorry, but - no.
I also watched the video of that stupid kid when he ran onto the field. If they shouldn’t have used a Taser on him, fine, but then he should have stopped running away from them. He was obviously committing a crime. If you think the Taser hurts, imagine how it feels when six cops tackle you and twist your arms behind your back, jamming your face and your knees into the ground so you can’t bite them, punch them, or kick them while they take you into custody. Arms, legs, and jaws get broken that way.
Or are you suggesting that they should have chased him around the field until he got tired of it and surrendered? Exactly how many times are they supposed to yell, “Stop,” before they can decide that the kid is not going to stop?
As to McCain, he’s a moron. We have a huge problem with illegal aliens. Literally millions of them came from Mexico or came through there. They speak Spanish and look like they’re from there. If we had a huge problem with Norwegian grandmothers bankrupting our country while smuggling drugs across the border, we’d be looking for people who eat lutefisk during Advent.
Incidentally, if you go to New York or Boston, you’ll find loads of Polish, Russian, and Irish illegal aliens. And yes, I.C.E. loves to raid construction sites and bust the day laborers there. But they haven’t got a racist lobby in Washington and a stupid senator to support them, so out they go.
If given a choice of taking me down, I would choose the tazer.
We used to practice on each other, and having 5 guys on your back even when they know it is practice hurts like a son of a #$%^%^. Not only that, I was sore for two weeks.
Tasers are better than cattle prods, they have range.
The Socialization of America and the world is to convert/strip human beings of their humanity and have them become animals. Then you treat them as such and the taser is a part of that process.
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