Sunday, November 18, 2007

"Don't Tase Me Bro" - Vancouver International Airport Edition

Well, I'm actually pretty angry at how Canada's international reputation has been further disgraced. And I'm angry reading about right-wing assholes who rationalize or excuse that monstrous police action and who have blamed the victim.

But as the days have gone by and I haven't had a spare hour to devote to blogging about this incident, my attitude about its causes has changed.

I started out thinking that it was this new attitude of impunity of our forces of "law and order" in these increasingly authoritarian times that was responsible for those RCMP thugs killing that man at the Vancouver International Airport.

Remember the security goons tasering that Muslim kid at his college library, shouting: "Here's your violation of civil liberities!!"

Now, when dissent is marked as treason, anyone standing up and shouting what's on their mind transforms into the image of Osama bin Laden and harmless loudmouths at a microphone are now dragged-off to arrest and electrocuted if they refuse to comply.

But while this new attitude might be part of the problem, as I reflect upon the historic traditions of attacking dissenters (weren't we all "useful idiots," "fellow travellers," "paid agents" of the USSR during the Cold War?) in the USA and Canada during the union struggles of the 1930s and 1940s, and on campuses and at rallies since the 1960s, I can't really bring myself to believe that police today are that much different from police in the past. What is a "Charter-free zone" after all? And notice that it didn't take 9-11 for that Mountie to feel the need to justify his unilateral creation of a "Charter-free zone" at the APEC Conference in Vancouver.

Maybe things have changed a little, since the "Reagan revolution" in the USA, and the attending coarsening of political debate he brought about. Things have changed a little since 9-11-01, but not that much.

I think the lion's share of the blame rests with the technology. Tasers give police the groundless belief that they have an EASY, NON-LETHAL means of quickly subduing a threat, real or imagined, and they all-too-quickly resort to it. And now, all-too-often, people die.

5 comments:

daev said...

I tend to agree with you that descriptions of recent police violence and thuggery as some sort of new or heightened authoritarian streak masks the fact that the cops have always acted in defense of certain interests with naked aggression and impunity, and lied about it, too. 9/11, the security state, and the "tough on crime" atmosphere massaged by the Harper gov't has perhaps changed the tone, but police, and especially the RCMP, have a long history of brutality and misconduct.

I think what has me going is this kind of perfect storm of brutality and inhumanity that's swirling around us, with Dziekanski's death, solid proof that Canada is complicit in the torture of Afghan prisoners, the stance reversal of the Harper government on Canadian death row prisoners abroad, and a general sense of foreboding. We're slipping towards a dangerous place, I can't shake that feeling.

Tasers are ugly torture devices in the hands of the cops. In a lot of these cases, the cops shock the victim with 50 000 volts and then bark orders like it's possible for them to hop up and step to. If they don't, the cops shock 'em again. It's sickening.

Wayne said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
thwap said...

Daev,

Thanks for posting. I'm a wee bit busy, but I'll respond later today.

Wayne,

I'm not interested in anything you have to say from here on.

thwap said...

daev,

Far too busy these days. So here's my quick reply:

Basically, while I acknowledge that there were police officers in the past who negotiated with people and were able to resolve crises without the need for tasers, I also think that there are such officers now.

And just as there are police in the post-9-11, 2001 era who are quick to use force, it's always been the case that some police are thugs.

At the end of the day though, I won't discount that this stuff is on the increase, since 9-11, but I'll also add: since Ronald Reagan made cluelessness, violence, and shamelessness such an effective combination for the right-wing, I'm hestitant to point to a "golden-age" in the past when police were more courteous and professional.

Aboriginals in Canada and blacks in the USA would probably concur with that, I imagine.

daev said...

Thwap,

Can't say I disagree on any of your points. If anything, the taser brouhaha has once again made a lot of people take a good hard look at our boys in blue (or black), which I have to say is long overdue.