Friday, November 17, 2006

Sissy Pants Nation

When did this become a Sissy Pants Nation? When did we become a bunch of Nervous Nellies afraid of our own shadows, bedwetting namby-pambys and quivery-lipped crybabies begging the government to protect us from nail clippers and “hate” speech? When, exactly, did the change occur?

It was not a Sissy Pants Nation when I was growing up in the 1950s and 60s. In those days, it would have been unthinkable to arrest and handcuff a little boy for playing with a cap gun in public, or suspend a student for drawing a picture of a gun or taking a bottle of aspirin to school, or call the bomb squad when a student brings a giant foil-wrapped burrito to school as a science project.

Yes, it would be have been unthinkable, and unbelievable. It is unbelievable now, yet these and similar incidents have occurred, and continue to occur, here in the Sissy Pants Nation.

A few days ago, a kindergartner in Kentucky, a five-year-old boy, was suspended for bringing a pocketknife to school. (LINK) The crime was discovered when he used it to open his sealed lunch. Thank God they caught him in time, we’ll all sleep better tonight, etc.

When I was a boy, I had a pocketknife. All the boys did, and we carried them everywhere, including school. As long as we did not carve up our school desks with them, the teacher didn't mind. Why, on one occasion, I even recall a teacher asking if she could borrow one of the boys' pocketknives to do something or other.

We always used our pocketknives responsibly. We knew not to cut towards ourselves, but rather, cut in the opposite direction. And we certainly knew better than to stab someone with it, or threaten to stab someone—

Wait, I just remembered. A boy pulled his pocketknife on me once. I was in the second or third grade. We were walking home from school, he and I, arguing about something, and by the time we reached Lilly Lane he was so mad he pulled out his pocketknife and brandished it at me.

Now, had this been a Sissy Pants Nation, I would have run away in terror, crying to Mommy and she would have called the cops and all kinds of unnecessary hell would have been raised.

But this was not a Sissy Pants Nation yet, so I grabbed the knife and ran off with it, and he did the crying.

Sissy Pants Nation, Sissy Pants Nation, we're all Nervous Nellies in the Sissy Pants Nation ...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

What Gives Me Hope

After watching the video of the UCLA Taser incident a second time, it occurs to me that it symbolizes perfectly the situation that we, as a People, find ourselves in today.

In the video, we see a college student, a young man (of Middle Eastern heritage) who has committed no crime, endangered no one, offended no one, done nothing unusual (except insist on his inalienable right not to be asked for his "papers") being tortured by the Police in full view of his fellow students.

Seeing this, the students are outraged, as well they should be. And they voice their outrage, as well they should, and demand a stop to the torture, and when the Police don’t stop they demand names and badge numbers from the Police—

And the Police refuse, and threaten them with torture as well, then go back to torturing the young man, while everyone watches in horror and shouts in impotent rage …

That is what we, as a People, are doing today. We are watching our government commit atrocities abroad, and deny fundamental human rights here at home, and that is all we are doing: Watching. And shouting. We’re shouting. In impotent rage.

Were that the only lesson of the video, it would be too discouraging. Fortunately, the video goes on …

Near the end of the video, the onlookers, who have previously only been watching, and shouting (in impotent rage), suddenly stop their shouting and surge forward, causing the outnumbered Police to stop the torture and hurry away to safety.

Later, the Police claimed they only threatened to torture the other students because the one they were torturing called to the others to help him, and they were afraid a riot would ensue. But this is not true. Nowhere in the video does the tortured man say such a thing.

No, the students surge forward on their own, without prompting. And that is what gives me hope.

It is the hope that we, as in “We the People,” will soon stop shouting in impotent rage and surge forward. Impotent rage never accomplished a thing. Only rage swiftly followed by a fist has ever defeated a tyrant ...

Sorry, Tom Swift

The more I think about it, the more I believe the solution to the Taser problem is to ban them.

Tasers are supposed to be used to stop someone from doing something, not make them do something.

Would a cop shoot a man to make him leave a building? Of course not. It makes no sense. And it makes no sense to use a Taser for the same purpose. But, because the Taser is supposedly “non-lethal,” the cop thinks he can use it like a cattle prod, as if simple pain-avoidance will make someone follow orders.

Tasers, however, incapacitate people, especially when used over and over, as in the UCLA incident. How can someone who’s just gone limp from being Tasered be expected to do anything but scream? Aren’t there simpler ways to make a man leave a building? Didn’t it occur to the cops in the UCLA incident that they could carry the student out of the library? There were, after all, several cops and only one student.

But, of course, I forget: The student was already leaving! Which makes the incident all the less comprehensible. Also, there was the matter of the cops threatening to Taser those students who asked for their badge numbers.

No, the Taser itself is the problem. Somehow, the apparently “non-lethal” nature of the weapon creates a mindset in cops that causes them to be too ready to use it. Yes, I know, some cops may use Tasers responsibly sometimes, perhaps even the majority do so, but there are just enough cops who use them for compliance, punishment, or intimidation, as to constitute a threat to public safety. As we do not seem to be able to get rid of these cops, the simpler solution would be to get rid of the weapon. Tasers should be banned. I see no other solution.

Sorry, Tom Swift. The negative effects of your "electric rifle" far outweigh any perceived benefits.

UCLA Police Taser Student Without ID

As the gut-wrenching video above shows, a UCLA student was viciously Tasered by campus cops Tuesday night in an incident that has so far not been explained by the UCLA administration.

According to this story, the student was using a computer in a university library when he was asked by staff to present his ID. He was unable to produce one, therefore was asked to leave. A few minutes later, as he was attempting to leave the library, he was stopped by the cops. When one of the cops grabbed his arm, he objected. His objections were verbal, and loud, but non-violent.

It was at this point that the cops began repeatedly Tasering the student. Other students loudly objected to the cops’ behavior. Some asked the cops for their names and badge numbers. The cops responded by threatening to Taser these students as well.

Tasers are meant to be used as an alternative to deadly force in violent situations. They were never meant to enforce compliance, to punish, or to discourage persons from criticizing the cops and asking them for their badge numbers. Clearly, these cops were out of line. UCLA should immediately fire them and criminal charges should be filed.

Thugs belong in jail, not on the police force.