I’m having one of those this-is-not-the country-I-know-and-love moments so familiar to my American friends.  Because, in the country I know, cops do not shoot people dead with tasers, anyway not if those people have lowered their arms and approached the cops with the idea that here, finally, comes help.  In case those of you in the Southern States haven’t heard, a man visiting from Poland was tasered to death in the Vancouver airport a few weeks ago.  He’d flown into a rage after waiting ten hours in the baggage claim area and broken a few things.  When the police arrived he turned to them for salvation and they shot him dead.

I’m so sick about this I can’t even read the news.  But I did manage to catch another story that bothered me almost as much.  A middle-aged Canadian man with cerebral palsy and a thick Irish accent, possibly a bit of a ne’er-do-well, was lying in bed hungover one morning five years ago when the police showed up to evict him for non-payment.  He was naked, so they made him dress and took him to the station, where someone decided it was necessary to strip-search him for weapons.  He refused, pointing out that he’d been nude when the cops arrived, had dressed in front of them, and hadn’t been out of their sight since.  When he kept refusing they turned on the tasers and gave him second degree burns.

It was hearing that story that made me think: not my country.  Because in my country, my Canada, the cops would see the joke and toss him in jail to finish sleeping it off, or maybe they wouldn’t see the joke and they’d grab him and strip him, but what they wouldn’t do is what they did do:  decide to teach this poor nothing of a schmuck a lesson with a deadly weapon.  It’s authority exercised for its own sake, and it’s barbaric.


4 thoughts on “Tasers

  1. Toba notes that the man had arrived on a place from Europe/Poland. Wasn’t there anyone on it to help? I ask: Did he think to bring a note/letter in English, with a phone number, address? Something he could have handed authorities? Of course what happened is terrible. But we can’t leave everything to the nanny state. We are so ready to shift the blame – others, the state, authorities, putlic services. Holy smokes, this type face is the pits!

  2. The type-face is bad, yes. One of these days I’ll change the presentation format of the blog and make it better. Meanwhile keep that magnifying glass handy!

    There’s no doubt in my mind that both the Polish man and the Canadian with cerebral palsy messed up. Both of them acted like big dummies, and, what’s more, both of them committed legal infractions. I’m not saying that the Canadian cops have gone mad, tasering anyone and everyone. But I do think that the cops, of all people, have to maintain a certain level of civilized behaviour.

    Think of the difference between the way these cops acted and the way Alan Banks would have acted. Don’t we believe, or want to believe, that most of our police act most of the time like Alan Banks? For the sake of argument, I’ll go all the way to “tough love.” But I won’t go all the way to just plain tough.

  3. In retrospect, the funniest thing about this exchange is how well it evokes the old sitcom, All In the Family. Meathead (me) writes about police brutality, and Archie Bunker (my Mum) responds by saying I’m asking to be babied by the state.

  4. I was going to spew in this thread, but then I thought, do I want people to wonder, is that Layton?

    In any case, I certainly can’t now, having almost literally spewed beverage all over my laptop.

    *waits for knee-slappin’ malapropisms to appear in Oona’s blog.

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