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.