a citizen’s journal by Thomas Nephew

Tasering mentally disturbed people is funny!

Posted by Thomas Nephew on February 24th, 2009

Reading the Express (the Washington Post’s tabloid style free newspaper) today on the way to work, an Associated Press report out of Bay City, MI caught my eye:  police received 911 calls about a naked man outside a church funeral mass service.  The man reportedly told officers he was “having problems with his parents and wanted to go to church.” Things rapidly deteriorated from there:

[Sgt.] Cameron told the Bay City Times the man verbally abused police before Officer Troy Sierras immobilized him with a Taser. […] Cameron said the man likely wouldn’t be charged with any crime.

Which man? The naked one or the one in uniform?  Why or why not?  In remarks I found at the Bay City Times’ article, Cameron added,

“You never want to see anybody like that,” he said. “He doesn’t know what he’s doing.”

But an officer’s apparent right to use a torture stick to respond to derogatory remarks from someone who “[won’t] be charged with any crime” and “doesn’t know what he’s doing” isn’t the only insidious thing about this story.

What’s also insidious is that the news media play the story for laughs: the item ran under the header “eyeOpeners: Sports” — with the headline “Nude Tasering Added to X Games Lineup.”  And that there’s probably a nontrivial fraction of the Express-reading demographic who laughed like hyenas when they read it.

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