digby, guest blogging on salon a few days ago:
Tasers were sold to the public as a tool for law enforcement to be used in lieu of deadly force. Presumably, this means situations in which officers would have previously had to use their firearms... Nobody wants to see more death and if police have a weapon they can employ instead of a gun, in self defense or to stop someone from hurting others, I think we all can agree that's a good thing.
But that's not what's happening. Tasers are routinely used by police to torture innocent people who have not broken any law and whose only crime is being disrespectful toward their authority or failing to understand their "orders." There is ample evidence that police often take no more than 30 seconds to talk to citizens before employing the taser, they use them while people are already handcuffed and thus present no danger, and are used often against the mentally ill and handicapped. It is becoming a barbaric tool of authoritarian, social control.
It's also a subject of humor in popular culture, which helps keep the sleazy taser manufacturers in business. I think I was the only person that thought "don't taze me bro" wasn't funny at all. The media was all over that one--I saw a slickly produced TV ad (for an internet service provider? I can't remember) where the kid not wanting to be tasered was treated as an example of hilarious good fun.
Oh yeah, cops shocking people with cattle prods for disagreeing with them--that's just the country I want to live in.