Saturday, September 11, 2010

Resistance Is Futile

The Taser has become the sex toy of choice among American law enforcement officers, as shown most recently by the experience of this Marin County citizen. How exactly do you "stop resisting" when you're in convulsions from electric shock? (via Digby, via Sideshow) I'm reminded of a passage from Merle Miller's 1972 semi-autobiographical novel What Happened. The narrator recalls an anti-Fascist demonstration in New York during the 1930s (page 56):
I remember in November of that first year The Clarinet Player and I were walking past the New York Public Library at Forty-second Street.

On the steps a hundred or so cops were using their billy clubs to beat the heads of fifty or so people, mostly young and scruffy-looking, as martyrs often are.

There were perhaps a dozen old people, too, and the cops were giving them an even worse time, one very old man in particular. Three cops with blackjacks were beating him on the head, the arms, the chest, the stomach. And a fourth was kicking him in the groin, and the old man was surrounded by a great pool of blood that grew larger every moment.

Several picket signs on the sidewalk said, "Protest the Munich Sell Out! Attend rally at ..."

After I was sick on the sidewalk, I said, "I didn't know such things happened."

The Clarinet Player touched me lightly on the shoulder.

"Baby," he said, "you are about two years old, if that, and that is one of the reasons I love you. Don't never change. What you don't understand is that about one thousand things like this happen every day in this town, and these here are white folks to boot. They usually don't hit white folks quite as hard as us niggers."

It's not really surprising, though, that Americans have no memory. (No one else does either.) You don't really expect stuff like this to be taught in school, do you? Only marginal, America-hating malcontents, professional leftists who need a drug test, remember stuff like this. We need to concentrate on the future, not the dead past.

I don't mean to demonize the police either, except for the incompetents who taze middle-aged men with heart conditions, unarmed ten-year-old children, bedridden old ladies, or importunate college students. But I'm not sure how much to blame even them when they face no consequences for doing it. (Just like the sexually predatory priests who were sheltered by the Roman Catholic hierarchy. You can't speak of a few bad apples when the whole organization mobilizes to protect them.) Not only are they often exonerated by official investigations, the comments sections of online news sites are littered with joyous citizens braying that the victims got just what they deserved and asked for. And maybe being tazed is preferable to such low-tech alternatives as having a toilet-plunger handle driven into your rectum, or being riddled with fifty bullets on the way to your wedding. Hey, at least no predator drones are involved. Yet.