“They lie. They lie, and we have to be merciful, for those who lie.” —Colonel Walter E. Kurtz, Apocalypse Now
Recently a judge in the Canadian province of British Columbia ordered transit officers to cease tasering people for evading fares. In Australia, police encountering a native man awash in gasoline tasered him on the bridge of the nose, at which time he burst into flames. In Alabama a man deaf and mentally ill was tasered for remaining “too long” in a public restroom. Into our office here in California walked a person who, locked away in a jail cell, had been surrounded by six deputies and then repeatedly tasered. And down in Arizona, folks at Taser International sunnily announced a new device that does not require officers to “reload,” and allows up to three people to be electrified at one time.
When tasers were introduced, they were sold on the notion that they would only be used as an alternative to deadly force. In other words, no officer would use a taser unless faced with a situation in which s/he would otherwise shoot to kill someone.
This, it soon developed, was a lie. Today tasers are used whenever those who wield them feel like using them. Including for sport.